The BMW M5 is up for a facelift, but will there be any significant changes?

The BMW 5 Series is in line for a mid-cycle refresh and it won’t be long before it comes to full effect. What’s more, the revamp will also affect the M5 performance sedan, as our spy photographers have spotted a heavy-camo’ed facelifted BMW M5 mule out on the open road.

BMW is tight-lipped about the revised M5 (as it is about the 5 Series as a whole) but the test prototype displays a couple of interesting changes that touch on the front and rear light clusters and bumpers. There’s no word on power upgrades yet, but let’s take a better look at what the revamped M5 might have in store for us.

Exterior

  • Redesigned front and rear light clusters
  • New front bumper and grille
  • Tweaked rear bumper
  • New wheels designs could be offered
  • Larger air vents
  • All in all, expect subtle, well-aimed tweaks
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Our first good look at a facelifted BMW M5 test mule showed us a lot of camouflage covering the front and rear end. This hasn’t stopped us from noticing that the headlight design will suffer some mods, though. The same can be said about the front grille and front lower bumper, although we’re fervently hoping that BMW won’t go for a gaping grille as seen on the current BMW 7 Series or the BMW Concept 4.

More changes will follow suite in the rear, where we also expect a taillight revamp of sorts, as well as a new design for the rear bumper and perhaps the exhaust pipes.

If we are to exclude the trick it pulled with the current 7 Series, BMW is not known for changing too many design cues whenever a new facelift is due, so based on that, we expect subtle changes for the M5 as well.

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Maybe we’ll also see larger air vents, new wheel designs and whatnot, but don’t expect massive fireworks. Moreover, the BMW M5 has always been a candidate to receive a more mature look compared to the Mercedes-AMG E63 S, for example, so it’s highly unlikely that BMW will start going berserk with the design on this particular occasion.

Interior

  • Minor tweaks
  • Revised instrument cluster
  • Addition of BMW’s OS 7.0
  • Will retain the back-hugging front sport seats
2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Interior
- image 727598

Unfortunately, our spy photographers weren’t able to capture the test mule’s cabin. Thankfully, though, we can look back at BMW’s other facelift treatments for its M-badged cars and know what to expect: in this case, the interior will reflect the exterior in terms of changes and their impact. In other words,

we’re looking at a short list of minor tweaks meant to spice up the ambiance inside the cockpit, but again, massive mods are definitely out of the question.

We’re basing our forecast on the fact that BMW is known to milk the interior topography featured in its cars for as long as possible, so there’s no point in going overboard with the facelifted M5, which will be, in essence, just a nip and tuck. However, this doesn’t mean the Munich can’t tweak stuff for the M5, especially in the technology department. And yeah, we’re looking at the driver’s instrument cluster.

2018 BMW M5 Interior Exterior
- image 727633

The new X5, 8 Series, 3 Series, and even the young-blooded 1 Series got BMW’s new Operating System 7.0, a massive departure from the old setup in the sense that it comes with a high-tech digital display that now acts as instrument cluster. It’s also a worthy response to Mercedes’ stunning MBUX interface, but with a sportier twist, typical for BMW’s ethos as a brand. Since the current M5 doesn’t have it, we think that adding it to the list of mods related to the facelift might do a lot of prospective customers happy.

Elsewhere, there’s not much we would change for the M5’s cockpit. The M steering wheel is one of the sexiest offerings out there both visually and from a tactile standpoint, and the general feeling inside the cabin is, now more than ever, that everything revolves around the driver. Sure, you could argue that on luxury terms, the M5 is yet to reach the same heights as the more opulent-looking Mercedes-AMG E63 S, however, that has a lot to do with BMW’s vision on how cabin ambiance relates to their cars’ sporty character.

Drivetrain

  • Same 4.4-liter V-8
  • Power could get a bump from the current 600 hp
  • M-tuned xDrive
  • 8-speed M Steptronic gearbox
  • 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds (3.1 seconds for the M5 Performance)
  • Top speed of 156 mph
2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 727612
...And what the badge really means!

Information on a possible bump in power and torque for the revamped M5 is nonexistent at the moment. BMW is, however, known to slightly boost a model’s output as part of the mid-life facelift treatment, so it remains to be seen if that will be the case for the M5 super-sedan as well.

Until further details on the topic, we’ll consider that the refreshed M5 is going to rely on the same 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 massaged to produce 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque between 1,800 rpm and 5,860 rpm.

These resources are sent to all four wheels via an M-tuned xDrive setup with rear-wheel-drive capabilities and an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles and a launch control feature. As a result, the BMW M5 can zap from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds en route to a top speed of 156 miles per hour. The performance sedan also stands out when it comes to its thirstiness, as customers have unsurprisingly discovered that in reality, it returns a lot less than the advertised 17 mpg combined.

2021 BMW M5 specifications
Config/No of cyls/valves V/8/4
Effective capacity cc 4,395
Stroke/bore mm 88.3/89.0
Compression ratio :1 10.0
Horsepower 600 HP @ 5,600 – 6,700 RPM
Torque 553 LB-FT @ 1,800 – 5,600 RPM
Transmission Eight-speed M Steptronic
0 to 60 mph 3.2 seconds
Top Speed 156 mph

BMW also sells a slightly tweaked version of the M5 under the Competition nameplate. This one’s good for 617 horsepower (torque’s the same) and can sprint from zero t0 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds, according to BMW literature.

Prices

2021 BMW M5 Exterior Spyshots
- image 862183

It’s too early to dwell on the topic, but we’ll tell you this: the BMW M5 retails for $102,700, while the M5 Competition can be had for at least $110,000. Sure, all the changes implied by this mid-cycle revamp are likely to bump up the M5’s starting sticker to some extent, so

it’s possible that the “regular” M5 could start at $104,000 or $105,000.

This however, is pure guessing for the time being and we’ll know more once the facelifted M5 actually makes its market debut.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG E63 S

2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S - Driven
- image 836806

The M5’s direct rival coming from Affalterbach’s stable is the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. It’s true that the Germans also offer the E53 on the U.S. market, but it uses a 3.0-liter inline-six good for 429 horsepower, so it’s not exactly on par with the M5 when it comes to engine configuration and power. The Merc-AMG E63 S, however, makes use of a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8 good for 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque routed to all fours by the AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive setup and the AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission. Despite packing a tiny tad more horsepower than the M5 and some extra 74 pound-feet of twist, the E63 S is actually slower to 60 miles per hour from a standstill, as it needs 3.3 seconds to dispatch the sprint. At the same time, the $107,350 E63 S is more expensive than the M5 but cheaper than the M5 Competition.

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG E63 S

Lexus GS F

2016 Lexus GS F High Resolution Exterior
- image 608999

The $85,010 Lexus GS F is not only cheaper than the BMW M5, but also less potent and devoid of turbocharging. Packing a naturally-aspirated, 5.0-liter V-8 good for 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, the GS F can sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds on its way to a Vmax of 168 miles per hour thanks to an eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift gearbox. Unlike the M5, however, the GS F sends power and torque to the rear axle only. Stopping power comes from a set of Brembo brakes with slotted and ventilated discs on all four corners.

Read our full review on the 2019 Lexus GS F

Porsche Panamera Turbo

2018 Porsche Panamera High Resolution Exterior
- image 681044

Porsche’s response to the BMW M5 is, of course, the Panamera Turbo. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, the Panamera Turbo makes do with 550 horsepower unlocked between 5,750 rpm and 6,000 rpm, as well as 567 pound-feet of torque available from as low as 1,960 rpm and then on to 4,500 rpm. With this kind of grunt and aided by the silky smooth and blistering quick eight-speed PDK double-clutch gearbox, the Panamera Turbo needs 3.6 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from a standing start, but it can also sustain the charge to a top speed of 190 miles per hour. The Panamera Turbo is, in fact, the most expensive of the bunch with a starting price tag of $153,000.

Read our full review on the 2019 Porsche Panamera Turbo

Conclusion

2021 BMW M5 Exterior Spyshots
- image 862179

The M5 is expected to spawn a facelifted model in 2021. But don’t expect a radical change from the current generation, as BMW will most likely be interested in fine-tuning certain aspects rather than change stuff in every department. More power could be on offer, but visually, the revised M5 won’t be much different from the current model, albeit some changes in the headlights/taillights department, as well as in the front/rear bumper design. What’s more important for the M5 is for it to retain the same performance levels and thrilling driving experience as before - and we’re in no doubt that it will do just that.

  • Leave it
    • Too mature exterior design
    • Not as luxurious inside as the Mercedes-AMG E63 S
    • Still pricy for most buyers out there
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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