As long as there are M Performance cars, there will be a debate about whether or not they’re better alternatives than their true M Division siblings. BMW’s less expensive, less powerful and less sporty M Performance models aren’t always necessarily lesser cars. Sometimes, in fact, they offer better all-around packages than their M Division siblings. One M Performance car that many fans seem to feel is a genuine alternative to its M car is the BMW M550i.
While F90-gen BMW M5 is almost a perfect all-rounder, the less expensive M550i might be even better to some fans.
Of course, it’s far less capable than the superhero-M5 but it’s far more capable than most luxury sedans, if not all of them. It might not pack the immense power of the M5 but it still makes 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque from its own 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8. So it gets to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, which is so much faster than any luxury sedan customer needs. So while it’s not quite the performer that the M5 is, there’s still so much performance available that very few customers will be able to notice the difference.
However, there are also things the BMW M550i does better than the M5. For starters, it’s more comfortable. The M550i’s softer suspension, squishier bushings and better NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) levels allow it to be the nicer luxury car for everyday driving. It also has rear-wheel steering, which the M5 does not, so it actually can feel a bit more nimble on a twisty road, while also having a smaller turning circle. That latter bit might not sound too important but if you live in a city or an old town with narrow roads, the M550i’s superior agility at low speed can make a big difference.
The BMW M5 is obviously still the more exciting, more fun and much faster car, while still being comfortable enough to drive everyday. However, if you prioritize comfort more than outright agility and would prefer something that’s a bit more refined than athletic, the BMW M550i actually is the better option. It has its own distinct flavor that can be more appealing than the full-blown M5’s, price be damned.