What you need to know

Share

  • Pinterest


The BMW 5-Series built its reputation on being a Jack-of-all-trades, an understated, European midsize sedan highly adept at completing everyday mundane tasks, yet engaging enough when piloted spiritedly to convince enthusiast drivers to take the long way home.

Akin to walking on tightrope, it’s fair to assume that if anyone can execute such a vehicle, it would be BMW. After all this is the company that introduced the E28 M5 back in 1985, which many believe invented the sports sedan segment. For decades, BMW was particularly guarded about that M badge, reserving it for models of a very specific pedigree that represented the brand’s most capable, performance focused road-going hardware.

But consumer tastes have changed over the years, so BMW’s overall mission with that venerable M badge is trying to change with it. More and more, buyers want the look and feel of a sport sedan without compromising any of the comforts of a luxury sedan.

That leads us to the seventh generation 5-Series and the 2018 M550i xDrive. While it wears an M badge, it’s not the next M5. We still have to wait a few months for that car. Instead, the M550i seeks to split the difference between the M5 and the 540i. In the M550i, buyers can expect more power under the hood and more capability from the chassis than any other 5-Series model currently sold. Just know the overall package will yield a softer touch than the coming full-blooded M entry.




The Execution

The M550i certainly looks the part of a legitimate sports sedan. Outfitted with M Sport brakes, M-specific 19-inch wheels, a handful of subtle aero bits, and an M Sport suspension setup that drops the car 0.4 inches versus the standard sedan, this Bavarian machine looks ready to run.

And run it will. Under the hood is a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 dishing out 456 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Mated up with the eight-speed ZF automatic – the only transmission offered – the M550i will sprint to 60 miles per hour from rest in 3.9 seconds. BMW claims the M550i is the quickest 5-Series they’ve ever produced, despite being significantly down on power versus the previous generation M5. Chalk that up to all-wheel-drive as standard equipment.

It’s fast, but also heavy — this sedan weighs nearly 4400 pounds. Clearly the M550i was built more for coddling its occupants in comfort and a vast array of technologies than in nailing apexes.

A handful of laps around the big course at Willow Springs International Raceway reinforces the notion. While the M550i is supremely quick in a straight line and the gargling eight-cylinder mill sounds right at home flying down Big Willow’s main straight, both the brakes and the suspension seem to be a step or two behind that boosted mill.




Already burdened with a few three-lap sessions before my time on the track was enough to make the brake pedal get soft. While the big M Sport brakes still offered a reasonable amount of stopping power, the lengthy travel wasn’t particularly confidence-inspiring. The suspension was a similar story, tuned to be more grand-tourer than track weapon. I noticed a fair amount of body roll and brake dive when muscling the car around a fast course like Big Willow. All of it is compounded by steering that feels vague and disconnected.

Getting the M550i out on the open road improves the situation, though. Here you can sink into the 20-way adjustable leather sports seats, fire up some tunes using the gesture controls, and admire the brightwork around the cabin while the car effortlessly soaks up the miles.



2018 BMW M5 is here: A new super sedan



Encountering some twisty backroads at an enthusiastic pace seems more in tune with the hardware on hand too. This M550i included the optional Dynamic Handling Package, which adds adaptive dampers and active roll stabilization, and I kept the dampers set to Sport+ for any of the curvy bits. But as the road straightens out, dropping back down to the Comfort drive mode softens the suspension, lessens the steering weight, and relaxes the transmission, turning the M550i into a high-speed isolation chamber. I wager that’s the setting most M550i models will spend the vast majority of their time in.



2017 BMW 540i xDrive First Drive



The Takeaway

Starting at $73,095, this example came with six option packages as well as a $3400 Bowers and Wilkins audio system, bringing the as-tested price to $86,685. The M550i finds its closest competition in the similarly-priced Mercedes-AMG E43. Like the BMW, the E43 is a model that was designed to provide a middle ground between a garden-variety E-Class and the hardcore performance of the E63 S. And, like the BMW, the E43 is much happier on your favorite back road or slogging through the daily commute than it is being pushed to 10/10ths out on a road course.

But the M550i’s eight-cylinder party piece under the hood provides the kind of authoritive grunt that the AMG’s V6 simply cannot match. For those who are looking for a fast, luxurious mile-eater, the M550i certainly delivers on that promise. But folks who’ve been waiting for a return to the kind of driver-focused engineering that put the 5-Series on enthusiasts’ radars more than thirty years ago might want to look elsewhere to find their kicks –- or perhaps just hold out for next M5. 







Base Price: $73,095


As Tested Price: $86,685


Powertrain: Twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, 8-speed automatic, AWD


Output: 456 hp @ 5500rpm, 480 lb-ft @ 1800rpm


Curb Weight: 4,372 pounds


0-60 MPH: 3.9 sec


Fuel Economy: 16/25/19 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)


Pros: Brilliantly strong motor, dynamite in a straight line


Cons: Not as light on its feet as something with an M should be



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

x

Check Also

2018 Jaguar E-Pace first drive review

The Jaguar E-Pace is a small prestige SUV that’s plays rival to the likes of ...

New Cars at Auto Expo 2018, धमाकेदार एक से बढकर एक कार, CARGURU Start Count Down, Maruti, Hyundai

Auto Expo 2018 starting from 9th Feb 2018, Many new cars are in the queue ...

2017 Cars Worth Waiting For ‘’2017 Ford Mustang‘’ New Cars For 2017

2017 Cars Worth Waiting For ‘’2017 Ford Mustang‘’ New Cars For 2017 2017 new cars, ...