These days, Malaysian car enthusiasts don’t have to wait long for the latest German models to arrive in showrooms officially. It used to be that a new model launched in Europe might take a year or more to appear officially, while private importers might be quick to exploit the delay and bring units in from the UK earlier. Furthermore, distributors back then were less willing to bring in every new model especially if their volume was going to be small. However, with the establishment of sales offices of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the early 2000s, the situation changed and very quickly, the offerings have become more extensive.

The new BMW M5 (F90) is a good example. It had its global debut in September last year in Frankfurt and on June 1, 2018, it will go on sale in Malaysia for RM942,759.86 (without insurance), just months after global deliveries began early this year. It would have been unlikely in the 1990s for this to happen as the focus then was only on models which could be assembled locally, providing the important volume to justify investment in supporting them.

Of course, BMW Group Malaysia still gives a lot of attention to assembling its models locally, having started in 1980 with the 3-Series. It’s even started assembling engines here so that some of its models assembled in Malaysia will have the minimum of 40% ASEAN content to enable them to be imported to ASEAN countries without being charged import duty.

Introducing the new M5 in Malaysia, BMW Group Malaysia’s Managing Director & CEO, Harald Hoelzl, said: “The fascination for BMW M has lived for more than 40 years; its legacy carried on and renewed by people who express their passion for motorsports through the driving experience of these exceptional vehicles, and this is evident in the BMW M5 – which has long made history as a powerful premium business sedan. The BMW M5 still dominates the segment it competes in and is a statement of supreme engineering skill and innovative driving intelligence.”

The M5 continues in the tradition of the model like with a classic 3-box style, appropriately modernise in its design with newly developed front bumper trim incorporating larger air intakes. The hexagonal central air intake in the front end not only separates itself sculpturally from the side air intakes but it also incorporates the oil cooler, further reinforcing the form following function concept. Aluminium is used for the bonnet while the roof panel is made from extremely lightweight, high-strength carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

The rear diffuser has also been redesigned. Together with the side skirts, the M rear apron and M rear spoiler do their bit in giving the new M5 its powerful sporting appearance, while the exterior mirrors have a dynamic, M specific design.

Under the bonnet, the new M5 is powered by a S63B44T4 4.4- litre twin-turbocharged V8, which produces no less than 600 ps, with 750 Nm of torque generated between 1800 and 5600 rpm. A whole range of enhancements have also been implemented by BMW M engineers to endow the twin-turbo V8 with its phenomenal performance capabilities. These include newly developed turbochargers and a higher maximum injection pressure of 350 bar, which allow for shorter injection times and improvised atomisation of the fuel for sharper engine response as well as more efficient mixture preparation.

The 8-speed M Steptronic torque converter automatic transmission can be managed with 3 response modes (Efficient, Sport and Sport Plus). The gearbox includes BMW’s Drivelogic system with 3 shift modes, allowing drivers to transition from efficient and comfortable driving to shorter shift times, and on to extremely short shift times when they are on a track.

The output level has probably reached the point where using all of it will mean pushing the limits of driving skill and while very good drivers will be able to keep the car under control, BMW has decided that providing all-wheel drive would also be a good idea. And what better AWD system than the M xDrive, which has undergone progressive improvements since the first X5 of the late 1990s.

The system has various modes customisable to suit the driver’s needs. 4WD and 4WD Sport allow the driver to exploit the driving dynamics in an optimal and safe way but for those who insist that the M5 must be rear-wheel drive only, there’s a 2WD mode too.

The team tuning the chassis only had one goal in mind – unbeatable driving dynamics with maximum directional stability. This took place in part on the company’s own race circuit in the south of France as well as the world’s toughest test track, the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany.

Sophisticated stiffening elements in the front and rear structures ensure the body structure is extremely rigid and provides instantaneous feedback. The driver can also choose from Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes for the Variable Damper Control system, which has M-specific tuning and M Servotronic steering.

The M5 is fitted standard with M compound brakes which are lighter than the conventional grey cast iron offering and therefore also reduces the car’s weight.

With blue-painted 6-piston fixed calipers at the front and single-piston floating calipers at the rear, plus perforated, inner-vented brake discs all around, the M compound brakes have the speed shedding power to match the car’s dynamic potency.

BMW Group Malaysia also offers the RM95,000 option of M Carbon Ceramic Brakes, which are identifiable by calipers painted in gold. The M Carbon Ceramic Brakes will take another 23 kgs off the car’s overall weight which any racecar engineer would be delighted to achieve. The 23 kgs taken away means better deceleration and considerably more resistance to fading.

The new M5 is also said to set the benchmark for interiors in the executive sedan segment. This includes innovative infotainment concept as well as greater functionality with features such as BMW Navigation Professional with 10.25-inch with Touch Display capability, Head-Up Display with M-Specific Content as well as the full suite of BMW Driver Assistance systems as part of the BMW ConnectedDrive features.

The large digital instrument cluster has an M-specific design and keeps the driver informed on the driving dynamic mode, M xDrive all-wheel-drive system’s setting and Drivelogic option currently engaged. For sporty drivers, the variable rpm pre-warning field and shift lights that show the best time to change gears when in manual shift mode, can also be reflected on the M-specific Head-Up Display. Virtually all the driving dynamic systems can be configured using the central touch display, buttons on the centre console or M sports steering wheel, and the central information display offers Gesture Control.

Standard are the new M multifunction front bucket seats trimmed with Merino leather and having multifunction adjustments. Visually prominent are the illuminated M designations embossed on the headrests. Seat and upholstery choices include a two-tone combination of Aragon/Black and complete Black matched with interior trim finishers in Aluminium Carbon structure with Dark Chrome highlight.

BMW Group Malaysia also offers step-up options, priced from RM30,000 to RM55,000 in the form of the Performance Pack, Advanced Safety Pack and Entertainment Pack. As with most other models sold by authorised BMW dealerships, the new M5 comes with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty with free scheduled service programme, 2-year tyre warranty programme (for the Run Flat Tyre offering and services), BMW Roadside Assistance and Accident Hotline, BMW Group Loyalty+ Mobile App – BMW White Card Elite, and BMW Service Online.

Previous generations of the M5

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[Chips Yap]

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