BMW unveiled its new M5 super-sedan at the GamesCom event in Cologne, Germany August 22, showcasing its latest sports car which, in a major departure for the M division, will feature all-wheel-drive when it arrives in North American dealerships next spring.

Long chided as a mechanical overstep, the engineers based at BMW M headquarters in Garching, Germany finally decided it was time to power all four wheels of the sport brand’s flagship four-door, in order to effectively transfer the car’s immense power to the ground.

Speaking of power, the new sixth-generation M5 will be motivated by an updated version of the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that found a home in the previous M5, now tuned to produce 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.

All this firepower will be capable of catapulting the M5 from a standstill to 100 km/h in only 3.4 seconds, doing its best imitation of a scared cat as it claws at the ground with all four.

Top speed is a claimed 305 km/h (189 mph) when optioned with the M Driver’s package.

In an effort to appease both the purists and those craving ever-fast acceleration figures and all-weather traction, BMW M developed a unique AWD system that allows the M5 to be driven as a rear-wheel-dive car when so desired—presumably when one has the hankering to steer mostly with the throttle, drifting the M5 with aplomb.

When left in AWD mode, the M5 still sends the majority of its torque to the rear wheels, thus giving the sedan a sprightly, rear-wheel-drive feel.

As with the outgoing M5, the new car features variable damper control, allowing the driver to tune the car’s suspension system form soft to firm at the touch of a button.

Thanks to the use of lightweight carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the roof, exhaust system and body, the new M5 is lighter than its predecessor, despite the addition of its AWD hardware.

Fuel economy for the new M5 on the EU test cycle is rated at a combined 10.5 L/100 km, so you can expect slightly improved mileage versus the outgoing model, if driven conservatively.

Along with the launch of the new M5, Electronic Arts announced the car’s presence in its soon-to-be-released Need for Speed Payback videogame, which bows this Fall.

Canadian pricing has yet to be announced, but expect to pay slightly more than the outgoing M5’s $103,500 staring price when ordering one at your local BMW dealer.

(BMW)