The BMW M5 has been a favourite of mine for decades, though as an unbiased automotive journalist I am not supposed to have favourites. Chalk it up to my humanity. I like cars, I really like fast cars and I really, really like when fast cars offer seating for at least four adults.
The 2018 BMW M550i xDrive sedan reviewed here, however, is not an M5 and here is the rub; it’s quicker. So how does that work you ask? Two reasons; turbocharging and timing.
Power comes in the form of a 4.4-litre TwinPower V8 turbocharged gasoline-powered engine. It delivers a pulse-pounding 455 horsepower at 5,500-6,000 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque from 1,800-4,750 rpm. Matched to an 8-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted, brushed metal paddle-shifters, the M550i xDrive sedan accelerates from 0-100 km/h in just 4 seconds making it the fastest BMW 5 Series to date.
This explains the turbocharging part of my two reasons why the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive sedan is currently the fastest 5 Series to ever come from Munich. As for the timing, well that’s simple. A new BMW M5 sedan is on the way and it promises to retake the crown and place back it where it belongs in the coming months. More on that later, but for now this is as good as it gets in the 5 Series and I am not complaining.
Driving this BMW is a lot like driving the smaller 3 and 4 Series, but with a little extra bulk to content with. It doesn’t toss itself into a corner as much as it hunkers down and assumes the stance of a charging linebacker. Steering wheel feedback is weighted and feels good in my hands, though I would like a little less mass to deal with while driving. This is more of a touring sedan rather than an M5 racer when it comes right down to it. Equipped with rear-wheel bias Intelligent all-wheel drive, this is the perfect car for a wine tour getaway in Niagara.
Our test vehicle is equipped with BMW’s Advanced Driver Assistance package. It features steering and lane control, evasion assist, front cross traffic alert, active cruise control with stop and go as well as lane keep assist. It all sounds wonderful and for the most part is greatly appreciated. But there are times when it feels like too much technology is getting in the way of the ultimate driving experience.
If there is one feature I really do appreciate it is the optional parking assistant plus with surround view. I have tested many park assist systems and in my personal experience, this is the best one to date.
The screen is clear, the information precise; it just plain works. As part of the Premium Package it is expensive at $6,500, but that also adds 360 surround view with 3D view, soft close doors, side and rear sunshades, comfort seats with massage functions and… I know, like me you probably stopped at massaging seats. They are so ridiculously comfy.
The exterior shape of the M550i xDrive sedan is classic BMW. A twin-kidney shaped front grille makes it clear from the start this spirited sedan bears the mark of fine German engineering. Style lines accentuate the hood, trunk and side profile with a tailored visage befitting that of a smartly pressed Hugo Boss suit.
Nothing is wasted space. Every panel and vent has been executed with purpose; whether its for improved aerodynamics, to suck in great gulps of air, or intimidate the competition as you approach from behind at speed.
Inside, the all-business suit theme continues. If you like the look of the exterior, you are most likely going to feel the same way or be even more captivated with the interior.
First off, it is dead quiet when you close the doors. BMW’s are renowned for their insulation from outside noise, but this feels to me as though the 2018 has improved once again. Road noise is kept to a minimum. Driving past semi-trucks on the highway, I am impressed by how little I hear from outside.
The carbon black metallic test vehicle I am driving is slathered inside with rich ivory/black Nappa leather; a $1,500 option worth every penny. Typically, I would be the last person to choose a light interior such as this, but it looks very elegant. How it would stand up to a family and pets, who knows, but as a test vehicle it is hard to beat. Leave this one for the clean-up crew at BMW Canada.
Of course, you expect a 5 Series BMW to come fully equipped to handle adults and kids in comfort and the 2018 M550i xDrive sedan doesn’t disappoint. Front and rear seat room is excellent, head clearance is good all around and the trunk is larger than expected.
For the driver, all controls are within easy reach. Any small complaints I may have about the infotainment interface are quickly dismissed after spending a little time getting acquainted with the system. This is an excellent space in which to spend quality time driving, talking, listening to the Harmon/Kardon sound system and basking in the leather and wood throughout.
The new BMW M5 will once again establish the brand benchmark for speed and performance when it arrives later this year. For most, however, the 2018 M550i xDrive sedan is more than enough. Yes, there will be those looking for a little more power and better handling in a tight corner, but there is bound to be a sacrifice in ride stiffness that leads me to believe this may be the best choice. And did I mention the massaging seats; no appointment necessary. What more does anyone really need?
2018 BMW M550i xDrive Sedan
Price as tested: $92,250.00
Configuration: front-engine/all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 4.4L 8-cylinder/8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 455 hp/ 480 lb-ft
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.9-9.2 city/hwy combined
Competitors: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Audi S6, Lexus GS F, Maserati Ghibli S Q4, Mercedes AMG C 63