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Auto Express
Chris Thorp

Engineers have lifted the lid on the new M5 - and it looks like BMW has gone power mad. Exclusive pictures in the current issue of Auto Express magazine show early reports that the V8 unit from the last version would be dropped in favour of a V10 are true, and the result is a 493bhp supercar-chaser that will be racing up alongside Mercedes' E55 AMG by the end of next year.

Thanks to the 5.0-litre engine, the M5's power output has increased by 93bhp, while torque is up 10 per cent to a huge 550Nm. Unlike on rivals from Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar, the firm has shunned the use of turbo or superchargers in favour of the smooth delivery of a normally aspirated unit. Performance is still expected to be blistering, with 0-62mph covered in 4.5 seconds and a limited 155mph top speed.

Power will be fed through a revised version of the M3's six-ratio SMG gearbox, but some other hi-tech aids may be left on the options list. A traction-control system will be fitted, along with the Dynamic Drive suspension set-up, but the German firm's new Active Steering could be frowned upon by buyers who want a more raw experience. The car will be officially revealed in the metal for the first time at the Detroit Motor Show in January, with production starting next autumn.

For those who want even more performance, a lightweight CSL version set to produce 542bhp is also in the pipeline. After the M5 project has been finished, BMW's motorsport division will turn its hand to the next M3. As with its 5-Series stablemate, this will get more cylinders, with the straight-six being replaced by a potent V8 when the newcomer goes on sale in 2006.
 
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