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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2020 BMW M550i

This week we are reviewing the 2020 BMW M550i with xDrive. Our vehicle was assembled at the Dingolfing plant in southern Bavaria, Germany and has an MSRP of $101050 CAD.

Picture by Luis G Manrique

Fun Factor: 10

Can it Family: 7

Fuel-Friendly: 5

HWY-warrior: 9

Karaoke Friendly: 7

Baby-friendly: 7

City Cruising: 6

Picture by Luis G Manrique

The 5-series is BMW's second-best seller of all times, just behind the 3-series. On the flip side, more and more people are leaving the luxury sedan market for luxury SUVs. A segment that BMW pretty much masters and fills for every taste possible. The 5-series, on the other hand, still has something that SUV's can't provide. The obvious is a better balance around corners and less of a weight transfer, making it possible to outmaneuver a variety of vehicles. We've been lucky at Driving Fun & Family to have been able to test pretty much every flavour of the 5-series available on the global market, from the entry-level 520d long-distance business cruiser to the eco-conscious 530e. Then we enjoyed the performance of 540i Touring and then jumping behind the wheel of an M5 around a track. The M550i with xDrive was the only vehicle we didn't drive yet; we weren't sure how it was going to be set up, was it doing to be a brute like the M5 or more balanced like 540i or something in between. What we didn't expect was that the M550i was going to be so well balanced that in each mode, it felt like a different variant. In the ECO PRO mode, it felt like a 530i; in comfort mode, it felt more powerful than the 540i in Sport mode. In Sport+, it naturally unleashed the beast with its 4.4-litre Twin-Turbo V8 producing 523hp and an astonishing 553 lb-ft of torque combined with an 8-Speed automatic transmission that shifts quickly and smoothly. We had no choice but to test how fast the M550i xDrive would accelerate to 100 km/h in the snow, BMW announces 3.8 seconds going from 0 to 100 km/h, anything above 4 seconds in the snow would have been acceptable. Now, we were able to reach 100 km/h in a blistering 3.9 seconds eating up the snow underneath its tires as if it was asphalt. The M550i isn't only a rocket ship, it rides elegantly, and provides as much enjoyment being driven slowly or driven hard at full throttle on the HWY while the landscape glides by so fast it becomes distorted. Overall, the M550i is the 5-series of choice when wanting to ride in style, both luxury and race car; it can all change with a push of a button.

Can a powerful vehicle like the M550i meet the needs of a family? Starting with the rear bench, it offers enough seating for 3 children, and it would accommodate 3 smaller adults on shorter journeys. The person in the middle might not have the most enjoyable experience because the seat is smaller, higher and has the transmission tunnel in the middle hence always having their legs close to both other passengers. We also noticed that this person will always inadvertently change the rear climate controls as these are somewhat awkwardly positioned. One good thing though, is that the belt buckle are well exposed, it's not difficult for the middle passenger to buckle up even when there's a car seat beside them. The outer rear seats also get heated seats in our variant. Ideally, the rear seats will offer seating for 2 adults in luxury and provide privacy with side and rear sunshades. The front passengers and outer seats in the back will get large, elegant and stylish brown Nappa leather seats with contrasting stitching. The front seats offer cooling on hot summer days and offer heated seats for those chilly winter days while the outer seats in the back are heated. The trunk space was generous, we were able to put 3 medium suitcases in the trunk without any hassle, and we still had space for other items such as an umbrella stroller. When going on a ski trip, the middle seat can fold to fit larger items and still keep seating for 4 inside the M550i.

Being powered by a V8, you can expect the fuel economy of the M550i to be quite high if you want to have a little fun with it. Too bad we got to drive it just a little too soon before the fuel prices dropped so much, they're at their lowest in years would have made driving the M550i even more enjoyable. The average fuel economy we saw was 11.6L per 100km; on the HWY, we averaged 9.5L per 100km and in the city 14.4L per 100km. BMW announces the following fuel efficiency, a combined fuel economy of 11.7L per 100km. On the HWY, the announced fuel economy is 9.3L per 100km, and finally, for the city, this is situated 13.6L per 100km.

After driving the BMW 540i on the German Autobahn at speeds that would get us in jail here in North America, we sure would have liked to compare its HWY performances at these incredible speeds on a long stretch of Autobahn. While we could only imagine it's performances, it doesn't mean that the M550i can't be enjoyed on a long stretch of HWY without going full throttle. The way that the Bavarian powerhouse built this machine makes it perfect for cross country driving. Besides, you can relax behind your steering wheel while being driven by the semi-autonomous cruise control.

The Harman/Kardon sound system offers a good sound experience. Adjustments are possible to get more depth; however, in our opinion, this will not be necessary as the system is already setup in a way that most people will find the system tuned to perfection. If you prefer the full music experience, we strongly suggest the Bowers & Wilkins sound system for the modest price of $4900. Yes, it might seem a lot; yet, it is worth every penny as it has 16 speakers, including 2 diamond tweeters that are pure, synthetic diamonds. It will also enhance the interior with its stainless-steel speaker trim that has a Fibonacci cut-out design, making sure that the sound coming out of your speakers follows the golden rule. Okay, okay, this might be overdoing it a little; nevertheless, the system does sound heavenly. As for the infotainment, it comes with the latest iDrive infotainment, which comes with Apple Car Play, and it may finally get Android Auto later this year. Something that many Android users have been waiting for and even dissuaded some new customers from getting a BMW.

How is car seat installation in the M550i? As with every other BMW, ISOFIX ports are hidden under a little latch that can be moved upwards to gain access to the ISOFIX ports. The latches are not hidden too far behind, making it a quick breeze to install the car seat. It would be nice to have the door open a little wider to make it easier to fit larger car seats. It will not hinder larger car seats to be installed, luckily. The rear anchor can be accessed behind the headrest without too many complications. The installation should be quick and swift in the BMW 5 series. It's easy for children to access the rear seats by themselves, the doors aren't too heavy to open, and the low stance of the car makes it easy for them to hop in the car. What also makes it easier is that the vehicle will soft close the doors whenever children didn't close the door completely, it would close it by itself.

The driving experience felt almost Rolls-Royce like in the sense that no outside noise would come inside the cabin, making it a relaxed experience while driving even in traffic. The M550 does have a mild-hybrid system meant to assist when accelerating and improve the comfort of driving; thus, we didn't see a great impact on fuel economy. What would be even better is a plugin hybrid M550 similar to the 530e we tested that returned excellent fuel economy, and that made it possible to drive without using any fuel in our regular commute. Our vehicle was equipped with cameras all around, which came quite handy when parking in busy streets and parking lots; they provided a clear image. We also appreciated the parking assist when we had to fit in tighter spots.

Why would we buy the 2020 BMW M550i or what we liked about it: That Bavarian V8, the comfortable ride, performance, good luxury family car.

Why we wouldn't buy the 2020 BMW M550i or what we didn't like about it: Optional packages can increase the price quickly, mild-hybrid system only helps during start/stop and under acceleration, Android auto not yet available, at that price tag some of the plastic could have been more elaborated.

BMW has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with BMW Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred above.

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