BMW released its first 5-Series in 1972, internally codenamed E12. The E12 chassis never got an M version, however there was actually a M535i model that offered more power, specific suspension tuning, LSD and even a close-ratio dogleg transmission. Neither the 2022 BMW M550i XDrive we have on test here nor the E12 M535i were considered to be true M cars, as they were optional packages rather than a bespoke performance offering.
The first true M5 was offered in the second generation, the E28. This model is an automotive icon, being hand built with a modified version of the engine from the BMW M1 supercar, the E28 M5 was a fantastic mix of motorsport and comfortable German sedan. The E28 opened the gates to the notion that a vehicle that was just as comfortable to take a long road trip with as it was to push to its limits.
Many successors followed in the M5’s footsteps, each bringing their own unique take on the formula; I have the pleasure of knowing one these recipes all too well in the form of my 2000 M5. While nothing really gets my heart racing quite like being given the keys to any M5 I feel that the newest F90 chassis lacks the composure and finesse of the earlier models, in the pursuit of horsepower and track times that the automotive landscape seems to be obsessed with these days. This is where the M550i comes in; all the M5 that most buyers will ever need.
Speaking of horsepower, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 delivers an impressive 523 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 553 lb-ft of torque at just 1,800 RPM. While this engine shares its configuration with the M5, it is a different spec, being down almost 77 horsepower. That being said, the M550i is no slouch, carries its weight with ease, and the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is still an impressive team member in the drivetrain department.
The choice to go with a true torque converter automatic here means for the 90% of the time you’ll be lazily cruising around and using this large German luxury sedan as the excellent daily driver that it is, you’ll barely notice the silky smooth shifts. When you decide to put the transmission into its sport tuning, drivers will be rewarded with shockingly fast shifts and brutal downshifts met with exhaust backfire.
Chassis tuning is where I think the M550i shines. The M550i is a bit of a goldilocks car for me, not too stiff, and at the same time not too disconnected – just right. One of the primary reasons one will look at the M550i over the M5 Competition is day to day comfort, and with the adaptive suspension modes, this vehicle will offer the true best of both worlds experience that may have gone missing from the latest M5. Combined with standard xDrive all-wheel-drive, the M550i feels like a true, capable year-round machine.
Stepping inside the M550i there is no doubt what this machine is built for, absolute comfort. With the $5,850 Premium Enhanced Package on our tester, we got comfort seats up front combined with a massaging function that worked exceptionally well. BMW has included a Caring-Car mood setting feature that uses the massaging seats, climate control, interior lighting, and sound system to either provide a calming or refreshing atmosphere. Although this feature may be a little gimmicky, it’s a nice touch.
Otherwise, we see the same assortment of standard creature comforts inside the cabin. This includes heated and ventilated seats in front, heated steering wheel, and soft leather that covers the majority of the interior. The dash layout is clean and feels well thought out; all the switch gear feels high quality and the aforementioned Premium Enhanced Package adds a dark ceramic finish to them as well. That same package adds a splash of extra tech like the self-parking features and head-up display.
Self-parking works well and the head-up display continues to be class-leading, with excellent clarity and impressive content capability. We still have iDrive 7 onboard and a brilliant 12.3-inch LCD touchscreen display that pairs nicely with the fully digital instrument cluster. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available as well and are wireless.
What’s also wireless is the charging pad, however we found that it was too small for almost any modern smartphone. We tested an iPhone 13 Pro Max and a Samsung S22 Ultra; both were snug in the charging pad however neither would not wirelessly charge as they couldn’t fit perfectly flush. Other than that small inconvenience, there are still USB-C charging ports front and rear to get power to your devices while on the go.
When you are on the go, you’ll be pleased to be spotted in the 2022 BMW M550i. Finished in this stunning Individual Frozen Deep Grey Metallic and rocking the BMW M 50 Years emblems, this 5-Series looks really sharp. The gorgeous 20-inch bicolour wheels round out the exterior; the G30 chassis first appeared in 2018 and was given a facelift in 2021, so for the 2022 model year not much has changed but luckily the massive grills that have affected other BMW models have not yet ruined the handsome fascia of the 5-series.
Let’s talk value. Our test car has a base price of $89,990, which is $990 more than the Mercedes-AMG E 53. Our tester came loaded up with some great extras such as the Rear Comfort Package which adds rear sunshades and heated rear seats for $1,600, the M Sport Pro Package, and the Advanced Driver Assistance Package which is an excellent pick at $2,000. The one package I think is a must have is the Premium Enhanced Package at $5,850. Compared to BMWs own M5 the M550i is still $30-40,000 less expensive, which is a true bargain.
The 2022 BMW M550i XDrive is a car that we’re glad that BMW still makes. If you enjoy the performance of the M5 but need a one car solution, the M550i delivers. The interior comfort and driving dynamics make the M550i a pleasant place to spend time for longer journeys and for the day to day, the tech and convenience features make the M550i a great choice. Add the M550i to the short list if having a powerful V8 engine is a must have, as this will probably be one of the last times you’ll be able to have one in a sedan.