A V8-powered 'budget' M5 alternative.
If you're itching for a preview of the next M5 take a good long look at the new BMW M550i xDrive. The automaker unveiled the newest member of the 5 Series family today, making a bit of history in the process. This is the first time a 5 Series has gotten the M Performance treatment. Even though it’s not a “real” M car the M550i xDrive still packs a big punch. Under the hood is a twin-turbocharged V8 engine making 456 horsepower and a burly 480 lb-ft of torque, with peak torque coming in at just 1,800 rpm.
Power is sent to all four wheels with a power bias towards the rear set of tires. An official 0-60 mph time wasn’t released but BMW said it will be under 4.0 seconds. Like all BMWs the top speed of the M550i xDrive is electronically limited to 155 mph. Controlling all the action is an eight-speed automatic complete with paddle shifters. BMW says the shift modes have been custom tuned to work in perfect harmony with the 4.4-liter V8 under the hood. Further enhancing performance is the Adaptive M Sport suspension that drops the ride height by 10 mm. Sporty cues can be seen all over the exterior, with the M aero kit giving the sedan a more aggressive look to match its new engine.
The kit includes a decklid spoiler (squint and you’ll see it), new mirror caps and M Performance design accents on the front air intake and air breathers. The standard light-alloy wheels measure 19 inches but 20-inches can be optioned. The overall look is semi-subdued. You can’t get too wild with the new M5 still on the horizon. That being said the M sport exhaust in black chrome is sure to draw eyes even at idle. The interior is largely the same save for the fact that previously optional M sports extras, including a flat-bottom steering wheel and aluminum pedals, are now standard. In case you were wondering the seats are Black Dakota leather, although Nappa leather is also an option on offer.
All of the driver-assisting and safety tech you can spec on a standard 5 Series is present in the M550i xDrive, including gesture control. BMW didn’t announce pricing for the M550i xDrive, saying that it would release those details closer to the car’s launch in spring 2017. Now that the M Performance version has been revealed and given a release date it should only be a matter of time until we see the new M5, which will feature a better AWD system and much more powerful V8 engine. If we had to bet we’d say it’ll make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.