2018 BMW M550i xDrive review with video

The basics:
Base price: $83,000 + tax
As tested: $93,250 + tax
Fuel economy over a week: 13 L/100 kms (18 US MPG)
Competitors: Audi S6, Mercedes E43, BMW M5, etc.

For people who find the regular BMW 5-series sedan a little pedestrian but the bonkers BMW M5 just too harsh, the company has released a brand new middle-of-the-road alternative for 2018. Meet the M550i xDrive. Everything about it is hunting for that Goldilocks buyer: it’s not too sporty, not too flashy, not too noisy, but still satisfyingly capable. So if you’re looking for a car that can still rocket you to 100 kms/hr in 4 seconds but don’t want to scream it from the rooftops, the M550i is an interesting new addition, but not without its quirks. So check out our full review in the video above for the full scoop.

Pros:
– With 455 horsepower and 480 foot pounds of torque, this is the most speedy (non-M5) 5-series ever built. That means you have 120 more horses on tap than the next most powerful 5 series. It’s all thanks to BMW’s M Performance TwinPower Turbo V8
– You’re also getting an M tuned chassis, sharper, more precise steering that’s still not weighted too heavily for daily driving and an M tuned version of BMW’s 8 speed automatic transmission that is so silky smooth
– Send all that power through a rear wheel biassed all wheel drive system and the car has a velvety confidence that’s just a treat
– But step one for not being disappointed by the M550i: DO NOT jump into this thing expecting a track-ready mile muncher. It seems more tuned for those who want a cruising car… with an edge. Power delivery is powerfully, buttery smooth but won’t require any neck-snapping visits to the physiotherapist (even when the most aggressive Sport+ drive mode is selected)
– BMW and Audi for me, are the gold standard for paired down yet luxurious cabins with amazing materials throughout. And there is no doubt that you’re in something a little more special than the regular 5-series here with M door sills, the latest M designed steering wheel, aluminium pedals, chunky paddle shifters you can really bite into, contrast stitching in the seats
– The latest 6th generation iDrive infotainment system is one of the best in the industry. You can either control it on a hyper clear touch screen or use the iDrive dial, which BMW has made intuitive and a pleasure to use

Cons:
– Despite over 450 horsepower pouring out of this engine, into an M sport exhaust, its engine note is decidedly reserved. It’s a subtle rumble in all but the most aggressive driving scenarios – which, depending on your personality could be a real plus or a negative
– And even though it’s slightly less nuts, this V8 can still be very thirsty. We’ve averaged a fairly thirsty 13 L/100 kms over a week of driving both aggressively and carefully
– We picked up a solid dose of road noise at 68 decibels at 100 kms/hr, which is far too loud for a car in this class
– And here’s something that we’ve mentioned with all the BMW reviews we’ve done: there are a lot of extras you can add on that really should be coming as standard. Apple CarPlay is a $750 option (with no Android Auto available). The $6,500 premium package gives you ventilated front seats, radar parking assist, that 360 degree camera I was talking about and satellite radio. Then there’s the $1,500 driver assistance package with all the techy safety features like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise and evasive driving assist functions. Sorry BMW, these features really should be coming standard on an $83,000 car. In fact, I’ve seen that all that tech in cars a third its price
– If you’re tall, you’re certainly not going to be able to wear a cowboy hat in the M550i. At 6’2 with the seats down as far as they’ll go, I have about half an inch of extra headroom. Given what an iconic business sedan this is, that surprised me
– Same goes for the back seat. Despite striking a rather large stance from the outside, thanks to its long, athletic hood and its sweeping roof line, the M550 doesn’t have a particularly spacious second row
– And when it comes to the trunk, there’s a bit of good news and a bit of bad news. As tested, we didn’t have run flat tires – which BMW so often puts on its vehicles and can make the ride harsh. But that means you need room for a spare tire and the trunk floor has been lifted to accomodate that so this is the tightest trunk I’ve ever come across in a car of this size. It’s still very deep but height wise, we could barely shoehorn our stroller as part of our standardized trunk test in there

Family Wheels report card:
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3/5 (68 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels overall score: 36.5/50= 73%

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