The rumours were true – BMW will be electrifying the next-generation M5. Even though prototypes of the new 5 Series Saloon haven't been caught yet in near-production form, our spies have already stumbled upon the flagship version flaunting its quad exhaust tips. You can tell by the sheer size of the brakes this isn't your run-of-the-mill 5er, but the test vehicle is a lot more interesting than that.
A purist's worth nightmare, the "Hybrid Test Vehicle" sticker on the driver's door reveals the M5's electrified nature. As if that wasn't obvious enough, you can easily notice the flap on the front wing/fender on the driver's side further revealing it will be a PHEV. The extra fuel cap has just about the same size, shape, and position as the one you'll find on the current 545e xDrive.
Gallery: 2024 BMW M5 first spy photos
The million-dollar question is: Will BMW retain the V8? If we were to bet, the answer would have to be yes. In an interview with Auto Motor und Sport last November, ex-M CEO Markus Flasch said the engineers are still finding ways to make the eight-cylinder engine (and the inline-six) more efficient to cut fuel consumption and meet stricter emissions regulations. The former M head honcho went as far as to say both performance engines will live to see 2030 at the very least.
Not only that, but the polarising Concept XM coming in production guise towards the end of the year will retain the V8 working together with an electric motor. Speaking of which, the first dedicated M car after the iconic M1 might lend its PHEV setup to the revamped M5. The electrified SUV is estimated to have somewhere in the region of 750 bhp, so look for a similar combined output from the super saloon.
Weight will certainly be a concern seeing as how even the hardcore M5 CS with its 230-pound diet over the Competition model still tips the scales at over 1,800 kilograms (4,000 pounds). The additional power provided by the electric motor will offset the weight gain to some extent, but we're not expecting the new M5 to be as nimble through a corner as the current model.
BMW will have the new 5 Series on sale in 2023 when the fully electric i5 should also hit the market. As for the M5, don't expect to see it until later that year or early 2024. All these models will share the iDrive 8 with the love/hate side-by-side screen setup.