The iconic new BMW M5 has been launched in South Africa and brings super performance to the family saloon with its advanced F1-inspired engine.The iconic new BMW M5 has been launched in South Africa and brings super performance to the family saloon with its advanced F1-inspired engine.

The beast is powered by BMW's most powerful production engine yet, the 5,0-litre V10 that was recently voted the International Engine of the Year by a panel of 56 motoring journalists.

The next in a line of illustrious M-powered sports saloons dating back to 1985, the new M5 uses a high-revving powerplant to produce its maximum power of 373 kW at 7 750 r/min and peak torque of 520 N.m at 6 100 r/min.

With its F1-inspired engine, the car produces about 25 per cent more power than its predecessor and BMW claims it should accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 4,7 seconds. The M5 is able to reach 200 km/h in 15 seconds before reaching a top speed electronically limited to 250 km/h.

Stopping power comes courtesy of cross-drilled ventilated discs and twin-piston calipers. The M5 decelerates from 100 km/h to zero in 36 metres, and from 200 km/h to zero in 140 metres.

A new seven-speed version of BMW's sequential manual gearbox (SMG) is operated via twin paddles fixed to the steering wheel or a stubby, chromed-topped gear lever. Drivers can choose from 11 different programs - five automatic and six manual modes - to alter the gear-change characteristics and preferred SMG, electronic damper control and DSC modes and, if specified, the rate of support the Active Seat Control side bolsters offer, via the iDrive controller.

It was recently revealed that the M5 would also be made available with a traditional six-speed manual transmission, but probably only in the US.

Dry-sump lubrication has allowed for the engine to be placed further back and closer to the ground, which has helped achieve the car's 50/50 weight distribution.

Along with its mandatory M Suspension, the car also comes with ABS, CBC, DSC and an uprated version of BMW's limited-slip M differential. The diff measures the difference in wheel rotations left to right and distributes power depending on traction levels.

From the outside, the new super-saloon is distinguished from its 5 Series siblings by its modified front and rear aprons and side sills and, for the first time on an M5, the side sills also incorporate an air duct which helps to keep the engine bay cool.

Apart from the standard equipment available in the 5 Series, the M (at R850 000) can be ordered with a full leather interior and heads-up display at an extra cost.