- 2020 BMW M550i xDrive (image supplied)

Why the 2020 BMW M550i xDrive is better than an M5

THE 2020 BMW M550i xDrive is not some powered up SUV or angry hot hatch. Nay, it’s something much better.

6w ago

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It’s a proper sporty sedan with just the right dose of raw twin turbo V8 power, coupled with an exact measure of luxurious comfort.

If that sounds a bit like a recipe, that’s because it is. BMW have taken the insane brute weapon-like nature of the M5 Competition (a new version of which is headed to our shores in October) and fettled it down to be more ‘everyday’ friendly.

Out of the melting pot, or should that be cooking pot, comes what could just be the perfect daily driver performance sedan, offering 390kW of power and 750Nm of torque from its fire breathing TwinPower turbocharged V8.

All weather traction capability is provided by the highly sophisticated, rear drive biased and variable BMW xDrive system, with the 4.4-litre engine aboard the M550i xDrive featuring two twin scroll turbochargers for unrelenting power and a loud, evocative note.

To describe the combination as anything other than breathtaking would be harsh. It’s fast, 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds, kind of fast, and while sure, it’s down on the power offered by its big brother, the M5 Competition, you honestly don’t need it.

2020 BMW M550i xDrive (image supplied)

2020 BMW M550i xDrive (image supplied)

Between the effortless grunt the xDrive system delivers to the road, and the excellent 8-speed Steptronic sports automatic transmission, it’s a dream to drive, eating up the tarmac like nobody’s business.

Power is delivered well across the entire rev range and it makes for a refined driver experience, that’s agile, without the sharpness of the full-blooded M5. If you’re chasing knife-edge precision response, then you’re better off looking at that.

And while we’ve said it already, we’ll say it again. You don’t really need it. Unless you’re tracking the car, or drag racing your mates (not that we’d condone it), the M550i xDrive offers the perfect sports saloon package.

The suspension is a little stiff when compared to other manufacturers but that’s become a bit of a hallmark across the performance BMW range, so you almost expect it, even if you are not completely rapt in it.

It’s loaded with M goodness too, including M Sport brakes, an adaptive M suspension, an M aerodynamics package, and M Sport differential. There’s also active anti-roll stabilisation and piercing BMW laserlight headlights.

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

Inside, there’s a fine wood interior trim, sport seats, BMW live cockpit professional, head-up display, driving assistant plus and a Harman Kardon surround sound system, a leather BMW Individual instrument panel, and ambient air, including air ionisation.

The front seats are super supportive, with adjustable side bolsters and a flat seat base cushioning, which is a nice touch if you’re a bigger or taller person. Rear seating is great too, with plenty of room for your passengers. There’s even multi-zone climate control.

Rear leg and headroom is exceptional for passengers sitting in the two main seats, although the centre seat space is a little cosy, noting that’s not unusual. A 12.3-inch infotainment system is the feature of the dash up front as well.

It’s home to everything from satellite navigation to Apple CarPlay, vehicle status information and details of which drive mode you find yourself in. These include Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. The last one is definitely a favourite.

That said, Sport Plus does alter the M suspension package, and Comfort is probably a nice middle ground, delivering the power without the anger of Sport and Sport Plus, but with a nicer ride. There is support for Individual settings, so you can tailor this to suit.

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

The 2020 M550i xDrive is priced from $149,900 plus on road costs, and is available in 16 exterior colours, including Aventurine Red Metallic, Alpine White, Carbon Black Metallic, Black Sapphire Metallic and Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect Metallic.

If dark colours aren’t for you, then there’s also Phytonic Blue Metallic, Bluestone Metallic, Bernina Grey Amber Effect, Tanzanite Blue Metallic and Alvite Grey Metallic.

Not that we’re done yet, there’s also a selection from the BMW Individual range, including Brilliant White Metallic, Frozen Brilliant White Metallic, Pure Metal Silver, Frozen Cashmere Silver Metallic, Frozen Dark Silver and Verde Ermes Metallic (a personal favourite).

The nature of BMW and its customisation options is such that you also expect a million different wheels, upholstery and trims, but in reality that’s not the case at least with the wheels. It rides on 20-inch M Light alloy double-spoked Cerium Grey wheels.

Trim on the other hand, well, where do we start. There are four Dakota leather offerings, including black with contrast stitching (as found in our test vehicle), Ivory White, and a Cognac coloured option.

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

In addition, there’s three Nappa leather choices, including Mocha, which actually looks better than you might expect, and three BMW Individual selections, including Caramel, Smoke White and Tartufo.

Nine trim variants complete the process, including aluminium grey, piano black, and a variety of fine-wood options. In an odd way, we’re kind of glad we’re not buying one, because if there’s such a thing as being spoiled for choice, this is it.

Our test vehicle was supplied by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2020 BMW M550i xDrive, contact your local BMW dealer.

This story first published as "2020 BMW M550i xDrive (car review)" on Exhaust Notes Australia.

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It's a big call, but we'd rather have this than an M5. What do you think?

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Comments (12)

  • I suspect this car has a place however I don’t believe BMW will sell many of them, anyone wanting a powerful BMW will opt for the M5 otherwise what’s the point.

      1 month ago
    • There's a massive price difference. For someone who can't afford to bridge the $ gap, this is the perfect solution.

        18 days ago
    • I’m not sure about that price gap, I get there is a difference but surely someone in the market for this type of vehicle could just buy a 6 month old M5 and there is no price gap.

      If you leased this car the demand for used is far lower so I suspect...

      Read more
        17 days ago
  • Nice article, it was a good read. What’s this stuff about “not needing” more power though? :). I was eyeing off a new M5 excited about the prospects of tuning it further - the gains are out of this world, as per most modern BMW turbo engines.

    Back to reality these M lite cars really do make a lot of sense in Aus where our luxury car tax exaggerates the difference between M and M lite.

      1 month ago
    • Thanks Ben. There's definitely a lot to like about M lite cars... including the price. I agree though, the M5 is pretty magnificent.

        1 month ago
    • Funnily enough, I just picked up a lightly used X3 M40i for this reason. At 80k vs 130k (for equivalent X3M) it was a no brainer. The X3M is prob a bigger compromise than the X5 though, with many journos saying it was a bit rough for an SUV.

        1 month ago
  • yeah but it doesn't come as a Touring tho.. The 540 does, but then you might as well have the lighter m340i, so personally I'd go Alpina B5 Biturbo Touring, but I guess that's the same difference.

      1 month ago
    • The B5 Touring is an awesome car. We drove one earlier in year. We rated it massively.

        1 month ago
  • Although this is in my opinion the sweet spot in the 5 series lineup, I just cannot recommend it to family/friends. The 540i is also plenty fast enough and as comfortable, although it don't have a V8 under the bonnet no one should ever be ashamed for owning a straight six bimmer, while being quite a bit cheaper. The M5, obviously being more expensive (though I just went on the UK configurator and found out that a generously specced 550i is "only" 10% cheaper than a M5 with the same equipments), feels more "special" because...its an M, its an M5 (and comes with that special feeling is the same special prices for services and stuff), and the 550i is "still just a regular 5". Anyways we all know the ultimate 5 isn't exactly made by BMW, its made by Alpina, yes it comes at quite a high price, but then I guess "the ultimate model" will always come with a "ultimate" price tag...Good thing the diesel Alpina D5S isn't half bad either?

      1 month ago
  • Crossovers are even worse then SUV'S and SUV' are utter crap....

      18 days ago
    • What does that have to do with sports saloons/performance sedans.

        18 days ago

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