In recent years BMW has been putting more emphasis on luxury than performance. This has been troubling to the BMW faithful as the company has a stellar reputation for its legendary performance automobiles. Fear not, the powers that be in Munich are still focused on making fast and great-handling cars whether compact or mid-size. The M550iX sedan is one such model capable of going from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in four seconds! The twin-turbo, 4.4-litre V8 is a real powerhouse delivering 455 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. Yes, the M5 sedan has more horsepower, but at a higher cost. Consider the M550i xDrive a bargain starting at $83,000.
The power is sent via a specially tuned Steptronic Sport 8-speed transmission, playing a key role in the dynamics of the BMW M550i xDrive. The M Performance configuration of the shift modes has been tailored to the characteristics of the V8 engine for even faster engagement across the entire rev range. The 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission can also be operated using the shift paddles on the steering wheel or the shifter in the centre console. So suffice to say the M550 xDrive can have a Jekyll-and-Hyde attitude depending on how hard you press the gas pedal.
With all-wheel drive the M550i xDrive grips the asphalt and pulls like a CF-18 fighter jet pushing the brain against the back of the skull. The driver of this powerful sedan will conquer all stop-light drags, although that’s not really what the 550i is about. With the M specially tuned chassis this car has sharper steering responses and with xDrive you get rear-wheel bias that combines sporting dynamics with everyday practicality. That includes powering through winter’s snow or gravel as I found out driving back from Smoky Lake this summer along back roads to Josephburg and Fort Saskatchewan.
The intelligent xDrive all-wheel-drive system power is split between all four wheels as the situation demands – seamlessly and with a rear-wheel bias. BMW xDrive is key to delivering two fundamental elements of the trademark M Performance driving experience under all conditions: increased driving performance and extremely precise handling. The Adaptive M Sport suspension lowers ride height by 10 millimeters.
Driver and passengers will not be disappointed with the comfort of the seats, abundance of rear-seat legroom and various electronic amenities. It’s a pleasant place to be for a long road trip, and although restyled for this model year, the interior still has some familiar design cues that remind one of previous generations of 5 Series cars. I recommend the Nappa leather option ($1600) it’s comfy and looks good. I’d also say go for the premium package too at $6,500. It includes everything from soft-close doors, sunshades, ventilated seats with a massage function for driver and passenger, and parking assist.
But wait, there is a long list of options like the $750 Smartphone Connectivity Package which includes Apple Car Play, wireless charging with extended Bluetooth and USD. Plus the car becomes a Wi-Fi hot spot. All that should keep the techno geeks in the family happy if you use the 550i xDrive to haul the family around.
The trunk is large enough you could take everyone and the family dog (provided it’s a small pooch).
But really, do you want to risk sticky candy on the carpet and scratches from the dog’s claws on the fine Nappa leather? No, of course you don’t. Save the 550i xDrive for a leisurely commute or a weekend trip to the mountains. It’s a wonderful getaway car.
Read more of Garry Melnyk’s Auto Talk at https://www.stalbertgazette.com/st-albert/scene/auto-talk