BMW has confirmed the M550i xDrive – a model previously denied to UK buyers – will be coming here in 2020.
The 455bhp twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 M550i was announced in late 2016, and originally intended only for German, Russian and North American markets.
• Best executive cars 2019
But a BMW insider confirmed a shift away from big-engined diesel models, together with small but marked predicted demand, means the company has revised its previous decision and will bring the M550i to the UK in 2020. Once it arrives, the M550i will usurp the 335bhp six-cylinder 540i currently residing at the top of the standard 5 Series range.
As an M Performance model, the four-wheel drive M550i xDrive offers buyers “the dynamic genes of BMW M”, without the expense and commitment required by a full-blown M model. Like most BMWs, it’s top speed is electronically limited to 155mph, and buyers are unlikely to be able to order the M Driver’s Package that raises this to 190mph in the M5. Nonetheless, the M550i deals with the 0-62mph sprint in just 4.0 seconds, a 0.6 second penalty over the M5.
Paired exclusively with and eight-speed ZF torque converter automatic gearbox, the M550i uses a similar V8 engine to the M5, with the turbos placed within the V of the cylinder banks in ‘hot-V’ formation, and the same bore and stroke. But the M5’s powerplant features unique oil and cooling channels, different turbos, higher fuel injection pressures, and a number of other upgrades.
As well as that hot-V engine, the M550i features a sports exhaust, suspension lowered by 10mm, uprated brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels and a light bodykit. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the American 5 Series market indicates a ticket of £64,000 looks likely.
While there’s good news for fans of powerful petrol BMWs, though, the company confirmed there remain “no plans” to bring the quad-turbo M550d over here.