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The new BMW M5 will pack a 700bhp+ hybrid V8 when it arrives this year

A new plug-in hybrid BMW M5 is on the way, and these spy shots provide our best look yet at its swollen wide-track bodywork

It's no secret that BMW M is heading towards electrification, with the XM SUV marking the biggest step – both literally and figuratively – towards an upcoming series of hybrid-powered performance cars. The next M5 supersaloon will follow suit, launching this year with a plug-in hybrid V8 powertrain to rival the newly facelifted Porsche Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid and future electrified Mercedes-AMG E63 and Audi RS6 models. 

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These latest spy shots provide our clearest look yet at the new M5, which is undergoing development with near-production bodywork. As a first for an M5, the next-generation model will adopt pumped up wheel arches at the front and rear to cover wider tracks, where the previous F90 used small plastic flange extensions (a much cheaper solution). These combine with beefier sills for a muscular, broad-shouldered stance, which will clearly distinguish the M5 from lesser 5-series' when the covers come off.

The M5's plug-in hybrid V8 will be derived from BMW's XM SUV, which previews the kind of performance we can expect from the new supersaloon. The XM is available in two specifications – the standard 653bhp version or the 741bhp Label Red – and given that Mercedes-AMG has already squeezed 670bhp from its hybrid C63 S E Performance, the E63-rivalling M5 will almost certainly offer more than 700bhp. 

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In the XM Label Red, the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 generates 577bhp and 553lb ft of torque, pairing up with a 194bhp electric motor. Combined torque stands at an enormous 738lb ft, and thanks to an M xDrive four-wheel drive system, the 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 3.8sec. Given that the M5 should be significantly lighter than the 2795bhp XM, expect it to slash a chunk from that time. 

The next M5 will once again come equipped with four-wheel drive, but exactly what layout the new plug-in hybrid powertrain will take is less clear. The XM's electric motor is integrated into its eight-speed automatic gearbox, but a rear axle-mounted electric drive unit (like you'll find on the Mercedes-AMG GT63 S E Performance) would give the M5 better weight distrubution. BMW M might have something like this in store to keep what will be a heavy car balanced between the axles. 

In the wake of other new-generation plug-in hybrid performance cars like BMW’s XM and AMG’s latest C63, we can say that the M5 will be a heavy beast, almost certainly tipping over two tonnes. BMW has also confirmed that this next-generation model will see the return of a Touring estate version, positioned above the brilliant G81 M3 Touring.

The new M5 will enter production this year, taking over from the electric 593bhp i5 M60 as the most powerful 5-series-based model available. Expect it to cost in excess of £130,000 when it goes on sale.

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