BMW, Audi, and Mercedes had overlapped each other for years while streaming for number one spot in the premium segment. But sometimes not all offers were matched and we had situation in which Audi offered for years milder sport versions designated with prefix “S”, while “RS” designation stood for full blown rockets ready to take the stand with AMG and M models. Since Audi had quite a success with sportier, yet not hardcore models, it was natural for BMW and Mercedes to follow. Mercedes have recently introduced E43 AMG slotted below E63 AMG model to tackle S6 and Munich giant is coming to the picture with new 2018 BMW M550i Xdrive on the way. Embrace yourself as M Performance has infiltrated 5 Series for the first time in history.
Since this is not a proper M version, don’t expect radical styling changes emphasizing its racing abilities, same as you don’t expect S7 to have styling cues from RS7. What you get is the M Performance aerodynamic kit which comes down to small deck lid spoiler and modified accents covering the edge of air intakes on the front bumper. Same accents along with side mirrors, fins right next to front wheels and grille frame are coated with Cerium Grey Metallic coloring. And guess in which color are 19-inch alloys?
If mentioned coloring sounds familiar try to recall our story about M760Li model which featured same styling ideas. Interestingly on our special 5 Series window frames are black, which may create a presumption that chrome lines are excluded, but yet they are here and are just painted in black, happily with high gloss effect to avoid confusion.
It would be fair to have some changes here too, and here they are. So, as standard seats count on Multi-contour seats that are otherwise optional for regular 5 Series, which are plated with Black Dakota leather with blue contrast stitching, while Nappa Leather upholstery is offered for an extra charge. You’ll also get M Sport’s steering wheel, sporty aluminum pedals, M design badges on floor mats and inscriptions “M550i xDrive” on door sills.
2018 BMW M550i Xdrive ENGINE
It will be the same engine as in the previous generation 550i model, but now it propels lighter and liner body so the change would be highly visible. We are talking about 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 456 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque with the help of two twin-scroll turbochargers, Valvetronic variable valve system, and Double-VANOS camshaft timing control. It is enough for blistering 0-60 mph time of under 4 seconds and the top speed that is limited to 155 mph.
Mentioned unit is paired with BMW Steptronic automatic transmission offering eight speeds, and it shifts power to rear wheels, but if needed xDrive system can easily distribute it to all the rest. The suspension is also changed, and while it is adaptive, it allows the car to sit 10 mm lower, adding to the sportier look.
Should you take it before the rivals? Audi S6 carries 4.0-liter V8 with 450 hp and acceleration time of 4.4 seconds, which is visibly slower than BMW’s. Infinity Q70 outdated 5.6-liter V8 with 420 hp and 4.8 seconds of acceleration time and Mercedes E43 AMG with even less power from 3.0-liter V6 delivering 396 hp and 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds are well beyond our Bimmer here.
Should you go for it, or wait for proper M5? Well, this thing would be significantly cheaper with expected price tag of around $77,000 and it is the fastest 5 Series currently. You read it right and until the new M5 arrives, old one takes 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph, we have quickest model in the lineup. This thing is today faster than proper M and who cares what tomorrow is going to bring.