Following a complete redesign for 2017, BMW’s 5 Series gains a new model, the M550i xDrive, which the Bavarian automaker says is the first ever M Performance variant of this well-known mid-size luxury sedan.
Of course, that label is distinct from the M5, the only 5 Series that can lay legitimate claim to that oh-so-desirable M badge.
For this model year, the M550i xDrive becomes the flagship of the latest 5 Series, powered by a 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 whose basic specs look familiar to anyone who has studied past 550i and current 650i models, but this car’s version gets 455 hp to the other models’ 445, with a matching torque rating of 480 lb-ft -- enough juice to get the M550i from zero to 100 km/h in four seconds flat.
On top of that, the M550i gets a more aggressively rear-biased version of the xDrive AWD system, and a trim-specific M Performance chassis setup that BMW says makes this the most agile 5 Series to date -- another claim we feel should be qualified with an asterisk as to not include the M5.
But you can forgive us for being so picky, just as we’ll forgive BMW its transgressions in return for its endowing this car with a specially-tuned version of the eight-speed transmission used in other trims, which can be shifted manually via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, or the console-mounted shift lever.
M550i xDrive cars also get bespoke aero add-ons, including a trunklid spoiler, that help this quick sedan slice through the air. In cheating the air, indulge in what BMW calls the “unmistakable and exciting M roar” of the M sports exhaust system.
Even at a starting price of $80,900, tech items like active cruise control with stop-and-go, evasion aid and active lane keeping assist are extras. Other available tech includes a self-parking feature that works without the driver behind the wheel, along with a 3D parking display system and an infotainment system that recognizes hand gestures, both of which debuted on the larger 7 Series.
Available across Canada as of spring 2017, the M550i xDrive sits atop a range of cars that, like last year, includes the four-cylinder 530i xDrive (248 hp/258 lb-ft), the 540i xDrive with its turbo six-cylinder (335 hp/332 lb-ft) and a hybrid version dubbed 530e xDrive that pairs the four-cylinder with a 95-hp electric motor to give the car a promised all-electric range of about 46 km.
Of course, all 2018 5 Series models are built on the same stronger, lighter underpinnings that made the 2017 model such a significant step forward from its predecessor.