By Andrew Ganz
Monday, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:30 pm
 
Answering the pleas of many an Internet commenter, BMW has confirmed that it will introduce for the U.S. market a low-price M5 wagon powered by a massaged version of the automaker's 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline six-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission

The 2014 BMW M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d is designed to appeal specifically to BMW's enthusiast base, a group the automaker has long been accused of abandoning as it pushes for higher volume in North America.

"With its diesel engine, six-speed manual and M-tuned all-wheel-drive, the M5 Sport Wagon xDrive35d is the ultimate enthusiast's driving machine," said BMW M diesel division chief Garth von Falkenhausen, the adopted American grandson of legendary BMW engineer Baron Alexander von Fankenhausen.

The elder von Falkenhausen is credited with spearheading the four-cylinder engine line that eventually spawned the automaker's first "cult car," the 1968 BMW 2002, so it is appropriate that his Iowa-born grandson has developed an enthusiast car for the 21st century.

The 2014 M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d, which will compete against wagon versions of the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and the Cadillac CTS-V, is powered by a 325 horsepower, 563 lb-ft. of torque 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. A six-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission on offer. Notably, BMW has abandoned its drive-by-wire system for the new wagon, instead relying on conventional cables and hydraulic power steering.

Underneath, the M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d will use an M-tuned version of the company's all-wheel-drive. A performance menu in the car's iDrive system offers 367 M preset driving modes that vary everything from ride firmness and steering heft to the brightness of the dome lights.

All M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35ds will be swathed in a single metallic brown paint scheme tailored specifically for the new car: Fanthusiast Brown. Inside, carbon fiber trim contrasts with acres of synthetic suede for a thoroughly track-oriented feel.

Since the new wagon was tested on the Nurburgring before the track went bankrupt, a 'ring sticker will be included on the car's tailgate. A fitted ///M hat sized to the new owner's cranium is the only option aside from a block heater.

Ultra-limited edition
Reflecting its low volume status, each M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d engine will be hand-built in the M Division's factory by the same engineer, who has been told he cannot take any sick or vacation days until all nine engines the automaker expects to deliver with U.S. specifications are built.

Of those nine, eight have been pre-sold. Six will be destroyed as press fleet vehicles by voracious wagon-loving media members, one has been reserved as a corporate errand car at BMW's North American headquarters and one is headed to its South Carolina museum to be preserved for posterity. That leaves just a single 2014 BMW M5 Sports Wagon xDrive35d set to be offered to the public - a sales challenge that even BMW admits will be tough to overcome.

"Most of the surveys we have offered to visitors of our website's new car configurator have indicated interest in a diesel M5 wagon with a stick and all-wheel-drive," said William Loman, the automaker's newly-appointed chief of M Wagon sales.

"However, enthusiasts are generally more interested in haggling on $1,500 Craigslist cars," Loman conceded.

To leap over that hurdle, BMW says that another diesel-powered M variant tailored more to mainstream American buyers is on the way. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a BMW engineer hinted to Leftlane that an automatic-only 2015 BMW M5 GT xDrive35d has been green-lighted for high volume production. Stay tuned.