For as impressive as the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive is, after picking my tester from BMW Canada I had to doublecheck the car’s accompanying spec sheet to ensure I was in fact driving a car with a V8 engine – it’s that quiet.
Sure enough, my carbon black metallic tester is indeed powered by BMW’s venerable 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8, a silky smooth and powerful engine that produces 455 peak horsepower and 480 lb-ft. of maximum torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels.
Now, a distinct exhaust note can be heard if one dials the drive mode selector to Sport or Sport+ and drives the car with a heavy foot, but in day-to-day traffic in comfort or eco pro mode, the big V8 goes about its business in a muted fashion, something I think most owners will appreciate.
Just to reset, the 5-Series is all-new for 2018 and, in the case of the M550i, it’s the first-ever M Performance version of the mid-size executive sedan. This means it gets some performance tuning under the hood (twin scroll turbochargers, high precision injection system, Valvetronic variable valve lift and double-VANOS variable camshaft timing), to go along with an xDrive system that has a rear-wheel torque bias and a (stiffer) M Performance chassis.
Working in conjunction, these factors have helped make the 550i the fastest 5-Series (non-M5) BMW has ever built, with a 0-100 km/h time of four seconds flat and a top speed of 210 km/h, which can be boosted to 250 km/h.
Other standard performance kit on the 550i includes an Adaptive Sport suspension that lowers the ride height by 10 mm, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, an M rear spoiler and an M sports exhaust system.
As good as all the go-fast stuff is, however, the M550i also excels as a finely styled, appointed and finished luxury sedan.
The 550i wears the 5 Series’ sleeker and more emotional appearance well, and its performance character fits snugly with the more sculpted sheet metal that wraps around the car’s sides and rear flanks. Standard LED adaptive headlights and tail lights, large front air intakes and a squarish take on BMW’s signature kidney grille nicely combine sharp style with high performance.
Inside, my tester features heated and cooled ivory Nappa leather seating with contrast stitching and piping, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, and a 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen that features Intelligent Voice control, Gesture control (first introduced on the 7 Series in 2015) and an iDrive 6.0 console-mounted touchpad controller among many other features.
My time with the M550i was all too brief, but its high level of style, refinement and outright pace impressed. In Sport and Sport+, the 4.4-litre V8 becomes twitchy fast, with nicely weighted steering and tight handling. Equally impressive is its demeanor in everyday driving situations, where it capably serves as a comfortable and smooth-riding luxury sedan.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2018 BMW M550i xDrive
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $80,900 / $91,895 (incl. $2,245 destination)
FINAL ASSEMBLY: Dingolfing, Germany
ENGINE: 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8
HORSEPOWER: 455 hp @ 5,500 – 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 480 lb-ft. @ 1,800 – 4,750 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 2,058 kg
CONFIGURATION: front-engine, all-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (L/100 KM - CITY / HWY. / COMB.): TBA (pending)
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000
ALTERNATIVES: Audi S6, Jaguar XF S, Lexus GS F, Mercedes-AMG E 43
Premium Package ($6,500)
- Universal remote control
- Soft close doors
- Side and rear sunshades
- Ventilated seats
- Comfort seats, front
- BMW individual reading lights
- Massage function for driver and passenger
- Ceramic controls
- Parking assistant plus w/surround view
- SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
- BMW ConnectedDrive Services Professional
- 360 Surround View w/ 3D view
Advanced Driver Assistance Package ($1,500)
- Driving assistant plus
- Steering and lane control
- Evasion assist
- Cross traffic alert (front)
- Active cruise control w/ stop and go
- Lane keep assistant
Smartphone Connectivity Package ($750)
- Apple CarPlay preparation
- Wireless charging w/ extended Bluetooth and USB
- WiFi hotspot
Total – $8,750
Photography by Lee Bailie