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BMW’s new M5 is undergoing rigorous testing ahead of its expected public debut next spring — as these shots of the car being drifted around the Nordschleife prove.

The firm’s engineers lit up the hot 5-series’ rear tyres around the historic German circuit, then lifted the bonnet to plug the M5’s powerplant into diagnostic equipment, giving us the first glimpse of its new 4.4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8.

Replacing the outgoing car’s naturally aspirated V10, the forced-induction V8 is expected to produce at least 550bhp in the new M5, comfortably eclipsing the current car’s 500bhp and offering considerably more torque because of its pair of turbochargers.

In the X5 M and X6 M the same engine produces 501lb ft; that’s 117lb ft more than the outgoing M5 can manage. The hottest 5-series currently available is Alpina’s B5 Biturbo — but while the specialist manufacturer’s offering also uses a twin-turbo V8, its inlet and exhaust systems differ from the likely set-up in the M5.

The M5 is expected to get a dual-clutch transmission instead of the B5’s eight-speed auto, too, and BMW’s product will feature stop-start in a bid to improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

The next M5 is expected to appear at the Geneva show next March — although its debut, like the outgoing car’s, may yet be made in the form of a design study instead of the full production model.

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