2020 BMW M550i xDrive review: Hail the Mighty M!

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By Asian Journal Auto Editor

What more can you say? The BMW M5 has been the benchmark performance luxury sedan for the last two decades, the ultimate sleeper car that terrorized Porsches and Italian exotica at the stoplights to their peril. For 2020, the mighty M550i arrives packing piston power galore. With increased power for M550i   and a host of innovative features and leading-edge technology, it still has the aggressive predatory look about it. Sitting long, low and mean; there are a few simple M badges, a rear spoiler and cool dark Cerium Gray finishes on the mirror caps, kidney grill, and front air intakes. The M550i model we tested also receives an M sports exhaust with fab black chrome tailpipes, door sills with an illuminated M550i inscription, gloss black trim around the windowsills. It also rides 10mm lower than the standard 5 Series. There are also larger front intakes, big 19 inch wheels and massive M Performance brake rotors and calipers. But you want to know about the engine, don’t you? Well the M5550i as tested arrives with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 producing a tarmac pounding 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, with 68 hp and 73 lb-ft more than the 2019 model. Transmission for all this grunt is via an 8-speed transmission hooked up to xDrive all-wheel technology. Our tester, finished in Azurite black metallic paint came in at a base price of $86,150. Added, was the premium package at a whopping $12,550. The optional paint and piano black wood trim with chrome highlights brought the final tally to $101,050.

The M550i interior stands out as extremely luxurious car, the rich brown leather seats contrasting piping are just to die for, but, it is not all show, with full connectivity and functionality. The Premium package adds such niceties as: BMW Display Key, Side and Rear Sunshades, massage seats up front, Adaptive Full LED Headlights, parking Assistant Plus with Surround View, Head-Up Display, Harman Kardon Sound System, Wireless Charging with Extended Bluetooth and USB WiFi Hotspot. Gesture controls that let you adjust the volume, change stations, and select the navigation screen with a wave of your hand in front of the 10.2-inch infotainment system  BMW’s excellent iDrive rotary dial, system linked to a large touchscreen display, is still one of the best and intuitive interface systems in any car. The M550i’s seats also feature multi-mode massaging functions for back, shoulders and lower back. The rear seats, are just as nice, suitable for two large adults with excellent comfort. Inside heating and ventilation is taken care of by a quad-zone climate control there is a power operated trunk with a capacity of 529 litres.

On the road, the M550i exhibits a Jekyll and Hyde character with a polite, super – serene manner in urban areas and in crowded city streets. Comfort mode setting allow for a more softly sprung suspension that soaks up potholes like the proverbial sponge. The superb chassis means there is no jarring or bottoming out, as the M-tuned adaptive dampers absorb the harshest impacts. There is the teeniest of body roll when navigating corners at speed, but it’s not an issue as the M550i dives in bends with a taut, direct feel.  Things change when you give the twin turbo its head and mash the throttle on highways, switch to sport mode and the exhaust note growls and roars as the 550i tucks in and does its thing, the steering stiffens just enough and the 8-speed transmission shifts with precise regularity.  The ride remains serene, but Sport mode does make for more spirited driving with a walloping backhand of torque. Let’s not forget there is 553 lb-ft in total from 1,800 to 4600 rpm. Sport setting allow the steering to become stiffer, throttle more responsive and transmission holds gears for just a snitch longer. Activate Sport Plus mode, and steering gets even tighter for better cornering and responsiveness.  The handling agility overall in all mode is that of a much smaller and lighter car. Fuel economy is rated at: (Premium Gasoline in L/100 km) 13.6 city; 9.3 highway; 11.7 combined.

To sum up, the BMW M550i is a wonderfully impressive car. Downsides are few, there is the initial cost, the high option packages and the fuel economy, but if you can get that, the price of entry to hallowed M5 territory is in reach. The M550i, has a high performance V8, excellent chassis and engineering, super car performance, and a great interior. One of my favorite cars to drive for so many reasons. The 2020 BMW 5 Series is worth a serious look if you’re considering a midsize luxury performance sedan.

2020 BMW M550i xDrive Base Price: $86,150. Price as Tested: $101,050. www.bmw.ca