One of Europe's historic sports saloons, the BMW M5, is celebrating. In 2025, it will celebrate its 40th anniversary with more horsepower than ever before in its latest generation (727 PS) and, once again, a choice of two body styles, including the return of the Touring estate.

But how did we get to the current electrified beast, with its twin-turbo 4.4 V8 engine and PHEV? It's been a long road, no doubt, and in mechanical terms, there's been a bit of everything. That's why, a few days after its unveiling, we'd like to take a look at the mechanical evolution of the BMW M5.

Engines which, until now, have 'avoided' electrification and which, for much of its history, have avoided turbos. But times are changing, and we all know that we must evolve or become extinct.

BMW M5 E28 (1985), the pioneer

Manufactured since the end of 1984, but presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1985, the first M5 in history was born in response to those who demanded more than the 218 PS of the M535i at the time.

The solution? Opt for the powerful M88/3 engine, the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre inline-six already used in the M635i... and which was nothing more than an evolution of the block from a super sports car like the M1.

With a kerb weight of 1,430 kg, the first M5 in history was capable of a top speed of 152 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 6.5 seconds, making it one of the best sports saloons in the world at the time.

BMW M5 E28

BMW M5 E28

3.5" in-line six-cylinder engine

3.5" in-line six-cylinder engine

Logo for the first BMW M5

Logo for the first BMW M5

BMW M5 E34 (1988) - continuity

The third generation of the 5 Series made a quantum leap in every respect, from design to technological equipment. But as far as the sports version was concerned, the new M5 continued to use naturally-aspirated in-line six-cylinder petrol engines.

A 315 PS 3.6-litre unit was used initially, before being supplemented in 1992 by a 3.8-litre unit with a similar architecture and 340 PS.

Logically, the weight of the model also increased, reaching 1.7 tonnes, but this was not a problem in improving its performance: 155 mph top speed (self-limited) and 6.3 seconds from 0 to 62 mph. In addition, this generation offered the M5 Touring for the first time, a real 'unicorn' in this day and age.

BMW M5 E34

BMW M5 E34

The BMW M5 E34 was equipped with 3.6-litre and 3.8-litre engines.

The BMW M5 E34 was equipped with 3.6-litre and 3.8-litre engines.

BMW M5 E34 Touring

BMW M5 E34 Touring

BMW M5 E39 (1997), the desired model

For many, this is one of the best BMW Ms in history. And no wonder, because even today, the 5 Series E39 is highly appreciated for its design, build quality and engines.

What's more, when it was launched in 1997, the M5 E39 made history by being the first in the series to opt for a naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine, developing 400 PS for the occasion.

Weighing in at 1,795 kg, it had no trouble accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds and reaching a top speed of 155 mph (self-limiting).

BMW M5 E39

BMW M5 E39

Multimedia system on the M5 E39

Multimedia system on the M5 E39

First V8 engine in the series

First V8 engine in the series

BMW M5 E60 (2005), the only V10 in history

Launched in 2005, BMW being the engine supplier to the Williams Racing F1 team, the fourth generation BMW M5 will go down in history for its link with motorsport.

The reason for this? The V10 engine with which it was equipped was directly derived from that of the FW27 used on the circuits of Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld, but adapted for the road, with a power output of 507 PS and a maximum torque of 520 Nm. The seven-speed SMG automatic gearbox did not convince everyone, however.

With a weight of 1,830 kg and a high performance of 4.7 seconds from 0 to 62 mph and the usual top speed of 155 mph (self-limited), it marked the return of the M5 Touring to the range in a very limited number of examples.

BMW M5 E60

BMW M5 E60

The only V10 engine installed in an M5.

The only V10 engine installed in an M5.

BMW M5 E60 Touring

BMW M5 E60 Touring

BMW M5 F10 (2011), welcome to the turbos

Bigger and heavier, balanced by more power than ever, that's the formula for the fifth M5, the last rear-wheel-drive M5 in the series and the first to adopt turbocharging and a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

To make matters worse, the return to the V8 engine is based on a 4.4-litre unit, fitted with twin-scroll turbochargers. The result? The highest power output of its time, 560 PS, rising to 575 PS for the M5 Competition Edition and 600 PS for the M5 30th Anniversary.

In the latter case, acceleration was reduced to 3.9 seconds (4.3 for the standard model), while speed was still limited to 155 mph.

BMW M5 F10

BMW M5 F10

The M5 F10 is fitted with a turbo... in duplicate.

The M5 F10 is fitted with a turbo... in duplicate.

Manual transmission not available in Europe

Manual transmission not available in Europe

BMW M5 F90 (2018), all-wheel drive and broken record

After a few years during which BMW M sports cars were described as 'difficult to drive' models (a statement that obviously included the M5 F10), the German company decided to introduce all-wheel drive on its new M5.

This is a rather interesting way of getting the 600 PS and 750 Nm claimed by the new model onto the asphalt with guarantees, ensuring 0-62 mph acceleration in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph (self-limiting).

However, for those who wanted more, there was the corresponding Competition version, with 625 PS, 3.3 seconds from 0 to 62 and a top speed of no less than 190 mph, and the CS, with 635 PS and 3 seconds in the same acceleration test.

BMW M5 F90

BMW M5 F90

The V8 engine is

The V8 engine is aided by all-wheel drive.

The competition variant develops 625 bhp and reaches 305 km/h.

The competition variant develops 625 bhp and reaches 305 km/h.

BMW M5 G90 (2024), PHEV and record power and weight

The latest generation (for now) of the BMW M5 arrives with two strong points. It has taken the turn towards electrification and the return of the Touring estate has been announced.

The plug-in hybrid powertrain combines the 585 PS 4.4 V8 biturbo combustion engine with a 197 PS electric unit to achieve a combined output of 727 PS and 1,000 Nm of torque. These figures allow it to reach 155 mph or 190 mph, if you pay for the corresponding option, but accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds, worse than all versions of the previous F90 generation M5.

And the fact is that the weight of the F90 was around 1,900 kilos, while in this new generation, the M5 weighs no less than 2.4 tonnes on the scales.

BMW M5 G90

BMW M5 G90

Charging socket for plug-in hybrid system

Charging socket for plug-in hybrid system

The Touring bodystyle will return in this generation.

The Touring bodystyle will return in this generation.