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BMW M5 may go AWD

BMW is making a serious assessment of its first all-wheel drive passenger car.

The twin-turbo V8 in the muscular new mid-sizer is stretching the friendship with the back tyres in the fifth-generation M5 and there are concerns about customer reaction in snow-belt countries around the world. An all-wheel drive upgrade is the logical solution and BMW M chiefs from Munich admit they are considering the move.

"We are thinking about it," says Max Ahme, M5 project leader. "If you are increasing the power more and more, maybe you need it."

The basic powerplant in the M5 is the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 already used in the M versions of BMW's full-sized SUVs, the X5 and X6, but is tweaked to unleash 412 kiloWatts of power and 680 Newton-metres of torque.

"The block is the same, but the cylinder heads are new. The inlet track is new, it has double Vanos (variable valve timing) and more revs. So, more power," says Ahme.

He refuses to go into much detail but it's clear that BMW M is making a serious assessment of its first all-wheel drive passenger car. "It's a good idea, but it would add 120 kilograms to the car and it's all over the front axle," says Ahme.

Other companies have made all-wheel drive conversions successful, including Ferrari with the lightweight system fitted to its new FF supercar.

Ahme admits BMW has had an FF in its workshop, although he believes the system would not be suitable for an M5. "We have looked at this car. We do some swaps with Ferrari." But Ahme is totally black-on-white on one potential stretch of the M5, into a new Touring wagon. "This will not happen," he says.

There have been three M5 Touring models in the past but the sales record of the car is not good, and numbers dropped dramatically in the previous-generation car. "It does not make any sense. Just look at the numbers," says Ahme.