2017 BMW M550i details released

BMW M550i 2017 side front driving

Faster than an BMW M5 but without the brutal focus on performance, the BMW M550i might be the velvet sledgehammer you’re looking for – except we won’t be getting it.

We’ve known about the all-new G30-generation BMW M550i and its M5-shaming turn of speed since mid-October, but now BMW has dropped the full dossier on its Fast Fiver.

The M550i’s engine is a “specifically modified” M Performance version of BMW’s familiar 4.4-litre turbocharged petrol V8, which places both of its turbochargers between the two cylinder banks to shorten exhaust and intake manifolds and reduce lag.

Peak outputs for the direct-injected V8 measure 340kW at 5500rpm and 650Nm between 1800rpm and 4750rpm – down on the 423kW/680Nm peaks of the current-generation M5 Competition, but 10kW more than the 4.4 turbo V8 of the X5 xDrive50i.

BMW-M550i -2017-engineBut even though it makes substantially less power and torque than the soon-to-be-superseded F10 M5, its 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.0 seconds is two-tenths faster. Chalk that down to the drivetrain: the M550i takes power to all four wheels, while the M5 is strictly rear-driven. A traction advantage sees the M550i become the better sprinter.

That xDrive gear is also tuned to be more enthusiast-friendly, with a rear-biased torque split that aims to preserve the RWD dynamics BMW is known for while still ensuring excellent traction under power. And despite being AWD the M550i doesn’t carry much of a weight penalty. In fact, with a kerb mass of 1810kg it weighs 60kg less than the rear-drive F10 M5.

An eight-speed torque converter automatic channels all of the M550i’s power to the AWD gubbins, boasting an extra gear over the M5’s seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Simpler tech, but one that offers better low-speed driveability.

BMW-M550i -2017-front -side -closeupA 10mm lower M Sport suspension not only brings a more athletic stance, but also adds adaptive dampers that can cycle between Sport, Normal and Comfort modes. Aluminium suspension arms at front and rear help shed unsprung weight too.

The electric power steering features a different tune to that of regular 5 Series variants, with M-specific response curves when the car is put into the Sport or Sport+ drive modes. BMW claims the result is “pinpoint accuracy” and “feedback that guarantees immense driving pleasure”. Integral Active Steering, BMW’s term for four-wheel steering, will be available as an option.

Braking hardware, meanwhile, comprises an M Sport brake package featuring large calipers and rotors, the former finished in metallic blue paint.

BMW-M550i -2017-interiorM Performance aero sets the M550i apart from other G30-generation 5 Series models, with a bootlip Gurney flap, unique bumpers, twin black chrome exhausts and 19-inch lightweight alloys as standard. 20-inch rollers will be optional.

Driver aids include a Dynamic Traction Control mode, Cornering Brake Control and Dynamic Brake Control – though the M550i doesn’t get a performance-focused M Dynamic Mode for its stability control system – that’s reserved for the M5.

The 5 Series also features Intelligent Speed Limit Assist – a system which allows the cruise control to automatically respond to speed limits – and the car can also draw on online data to help the driver find a free on-street car park. Remote Parking can also be specified for the M550i, allowing the driver to park the car without being behind the wheel.

BMW-M550i -2017-rear -side -closeupThe sad news? The M550i is strictly a left-hook proposition – right hand drive production simply isn’t on the cards for that particular 5 Series variant.

However, that’s not for a lack of trying on BMW Australia’s part: the German automaker’s local arm has the M550i firmly on its wishlist, and should head office relent and elect to put the M550i’s steering wheel on the right side, it’s virtually certain it will then head for our shores.

Until then, however, the M550i and its V8 delights will remain out of our reach. If you want a V8-engined G30 5 Series, you’ll need to wait for the next-gen M5 to appear.

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