Before BMW releases the M Performance Automobiles at the Geneva Auto Show, Bimmerpost gives a review of one of the diesel models that are first on the list: the BMW M550d xDrive. The verdict? This vehicle is impressive. Read more on this excerpt below:
A ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic is standard. Eight speeds? Less could be more, but at least the shifts are seamless and unobtrusive. The slushbox remains discreetly in the background, and it’s not as playful as the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission of the M5. Like its big brother, the M550d xDrive is equipped with hydraulic power steering – precise, nicely weighted, and far preferable to the electric power steering which comes standard on lesser 5 series models. The brakes are taken from the 550i, and the all-wheel drive system is calibrated to discourage understeering. But you can’t help noticing this car’s excessive weight: At 4,178 lbs, it is 220 lbs heavier even than the twin-turbo 535d xDrive, not a car known for its emphasis on weight reduction.
This M Performance sedan is resonably comfortable, despite the 245/35 front and 274/30 rear tires on 20-inch wheels which were fitted on our test car. BMW’s chassis experts tell us that the Dunlop tires make for a better ride, but the Michelin tires which are alternatively offered are preferable if performance is your main focus.
One of the most impressive characteristics of the M550d xDrive is its efficiency: Despite its heft and its near-supercar performance, the car is rated at 37.3 mpg in the – admittedly optimistic – European cycle. In real life, you deserve congratulations if you get more than 30 mpg, but that’s still a remarkable feat. There is an “Eco Pro” mode in the drive selector, which softens the car’s responses, and a “brake energy recuperation” gauge on the dashboard. This car, after all, is supposed to be “socially acceptable” even in environmentally conscious Europe.