The next 5-Series, which will include 375 kW V10 and 280 kW biturbo-engined derivatives, debuts next year. What does BMW design chief Chris Bangle have in mind for the look of the future Fives?
Just what does BMW design chief Chris Bangle have in mind for the next generation of the Bavarian manufacturer’s 5-Series? Will the Fives have what it takes to take on the keenly awaited Mercedes E-Class, which is due to reach SA showrooms by the end of the year?
BMW has kept the development of its mid-ranger under a veil of secrecy. But partially-disguised prototypes of the new 5-Series, which has been codenamed E60, have been spotted testing. At first glance it appears the new Fives will have styling similar to that of Bangle’s very controversial 7-Series design… dynamic coupé-like lines and more rear space than the current car. But, will the Fives have the like-it-or-hate-it boot of the Seven?
It is expected that elements of Bangle’s latest designs, namely the X-coupé and CS1 concepts, will be incorporated into the 5-Series. The car will also be the first of a new series of BMWs built off the same platform – close relations to follow will include the 6-Series coupé and the next-generation X5 SUV, due in 2005.
The new Five, like its 7-Series sibling, will be a showcase for BMW’s latest technological developments and its vision for the future look of the marque’s model ranges. Although there will still be a common aesthetic thread shared by the ranges in BMW’s stable, Bangle is reportedly keen to inject more individuality and differentiation into the mix.
According to , the new Fives’ lightweight chassis construction is a hybrid of an aluminium spaceframe for the front section, and a traditional steel monocoque for the passenger compartment and rear end, incorporating lessons BMW has already learned with the space-framed Z8 and the forthcoming Rolls-Royce.
The new chassis is predicted to be even more performance-orientated than that of the current range, and will feature independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link layout behind.
The Five will be packed with a host of electronic control systems, including the latest and more user-friendly evolution of iDrive (as an option, or standard on the top of the range variants) and electronic driver aids including automatic damping control, body roll control and a new system called Active Front Steering.
According to the report, the Active Front Steering system “automatically corrects the angle of the front wheels under sharp braking or other sudden external inputs”.
The engine line-up is said to include 2,2-, 2,5- and three-litre straight-six units, albeit with some modifications, plus versions of the 3,6- and 4,4-litre V8s used in the 7-Series. These powerplants will be revised to feature both BMW’s Valvetronic technology and direct fuel injection system.
There will also be several diesels on offer, including two-litre four-cylinder and 2,5-litre and three-litre six cylinder units, plus a new four-litre V8. The transmission systems on offer will include a six-speed manual and a six-speed Steptronic gearbox.
The tried and trusted 4,4-litre V8 might not be the most powerful petrol engine on offer, though. At some point of the Fives’ development, a new 283 kW bi-turbo three-litre engine is on the cards to power BMW’s rival to the Jaguar S-Type R, Audis S6 and, when it eventually arrives, the AMG version of the latest Mercedes E-Class.
But, the biturbo engine is not destined for the next-generation M5. The M5, already a benchmark sports saloon, will have a monstrous 5,5-litre V10 engine – derived from BMW’s F1 unit – which could produce as much as 375 kW. BMW claims the future M5 will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in under five seconds, which will make it the fastest production Beemer on the planet.
The new Five is set to be unveiled at next year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and will go on sale at the end of 2003. Right-hand drive versions – and Touring estate and “X” four-wheel drive versions – should follow by 2004, a BMW spokesman told .