The BMW M5 may have been put out to pasture for the time being, but its 5,5-litre V10-engined successor has been spotted during a European test session and will début at next year’s Paris Motor Show.

The BMW M5 may have been put out to pasture for the time being, but its 5,5-litre V10-engined successor has been spotted during a European test session and will début at next year’s Paris Motor Show.

CARtoday.com reported last week that production of the M5 and Z8 would stop at the end of June. The Z8 is being killed off after not being a huge success globally, but the iconic M5 did not have an image problem. Since the first version of the super saloon appeared in the late ‘80s, the M5 has been held in high regard for its power and performance. However, it was dropped because the new 5-Series will not use the 5,0-litre V8 that powers these two cars.

Fortunately for BMW aficionados, the Munich-based manufacturer is developing a new M5 that will take the battle to the Mercedes-Benz E 55 AMG and Audi S6.

As these spy pictures show, the exterior of the M5 will be characterised by huge 19-inch wheels, wider door-sills, chrome-less window frames and an additional air-intake behind the front wheel houses. The front will be dominated by a bigger airdam and the rear end will feature a clustered skirt and two pairs of exhaust pipes.

The next M5 is likely to be powered by a 5,5-litre V10. It will be mated to a beefier, third-generation version of BMW’s SMG gearbox. Expected performance figures are zero to 100 km/h in 4,6 seconds and a top speed limited to 250 km/h.

Meanwhile, the Touring version of the new 5-Series is also due during 2004. It will be bigger in every dimension - longer, wider, taller - with an emphasis on improved interior space, especially on the rear bench. To keep weight low, the entire body will be made of aluminium, though the chassis will be strengthened by steel elements.

Fully adjustable air-suspension and variable dampers, both also available for the saloon, will be standard for the Touring. Both will be mounted on the Z-axle arrangement. This will also include the newly-developed Active Steering, which automatically steers the wheels to correct the skid in far less time than the average driver could.

The 5-Series Touring will be powered by 2,7-litre and three-litre six-cylinder units with FSI direct injection technology. The more powerful version will be coming with 3,5- and 4,5-litre V8s taken from the 735i and 745i grand saloons.

The return of four-cylinder engines for the 5-Series will be limited to the saloon, of which entry-level models will be available with a 2,2-litre four-cylinder. Before new diesel engines will be ready, the Touring and the saloon will be offered with two-, 2,5- and three-litre diesel engines.

Original article from Car