Our own Chuck Vossler recently flew to the stunning Bavarian Alps to drive the new BMW M550i xDrive, the fastest BMW 5 Series ever made. Needless to say, he was impressed, as are we. The M550i is a car we like quite a bit and one we’re very excited to get our hands on here in the ‘States and give a more thorough test, as press launches only allow for brief samples. However, one might accuse us of being biased about a new BMW 5 Series, as we’re already big fans. So what does another publication have to say?
Automobile Magazine was also invited to Bavaria to give the M550i a good bashing and came away with some pretty positive remarks.
Under the hood is a reworked version of BMW’s 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, making a healthy 456 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. When paired with its ZF8 automatic transmission and a rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system, the M550i can get from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. That makes it the fastest BMW 5 Series ever developed, faster even than the previous-gen M5. Apparently, this engine isn’t just brute force, as it sounds great and has character as well. Drive it gently and it will gladly and quietly putter around town, with effortless torque and smooth responses. But step into it and it comes alive with a deep growl and proper V8 noise. Good stuff.
According to Automobile, the new M550i is also a good handling and enjoyable car to drive. “Steering is smooth and accurate, the ride — aided by the smaller diameter winter rubber, certainly — is controlled but soothes away the few stretches of bad surface we encounter, and the engine always seems to have so much in reserve.” said Jethro Bovingdon. If you realize what the car is, it’s an absolute blast. Many fans are hoping it’s some hardcore precursor to the upcoming M5. But it’s not, it’s a car that has 80 percent of the M5’s performance with far more comfort and usability. According to BMW M CEO Frank Van Meel, “We develop the BMW M Performance Automobiles for customers who are seeking very sporty driving characteristics yet do not wish to sacrifice any of their BMW’s everyday practicality.” If that was the BMW M550i’s mission, it nailed it.
If you want something more hardcore, the upcoming BMW F90 M5 is on the way. But the BMW M550i is like an M5-light. It’s 80 percent of the fun but twice the usability. If you can appreciate it for what it is, the M550i is hard to dislike.