Road Test

Road Test: 2012 BMW M550d xDrive Touring

October 15, 2012

BMW M550d 2012_02BMW M GmbH has created a completely new model range in addition to their traditional M cars. The new BMW M Performance Automobiles take position between BMW’s standard models and the M sport versions. The M Performance Automobiles have improved performance and driving dynamics compared to the standard models, but offer more comfort and better everyday usability than the M models. At launch, the M Performance Automobiles product category includes 1 Series, 5 Series, X5 and X6 models.

As the new BMW M5 is already available, some might wonder, why there is now another performance model based on the BMW 5 Series. If you’re looking for performance, the M5 is all you need. However, the new M550d has some advantages over the M5, why some might find it more suitable for their own use. First of all, the new M550d is available in both Sedan and Touring body types, as the M5, at least for now, is only available as a four-door sedan.

Secondly, the M550d is powered by a diesel engine. It’s not a 5-litre V8 as the model designation might suggest, but just a 3-litre, six-cylinder powerplant. It might not sound very tempting, until you find out that it has not just one, not two, but three turbochargers. Two comparatively small high-pressure chargers are working with a larger low-pressure unit. The integration of an additional high-pressure turbo to the BMW Twinpower Turbo system increases the engine’s capability when it comes to generating charge pressure, which means bigger power output.

The 2993cc diesel engine generates 381 horsepower and massive 740 Newton metres (546 lb-ft) of torque. These are quite impressive figures for a 3-litre diesel. Naturally, the car’s performance is impressive as well. The BMW M550d Touring can accelerate from zero to hundred in just 4,9 seconds and all the way to the limited top speed of 250 km/h. So it could keep up quite well even with the M5. With its massive torque, the big car accelerates surprisingly smoothly. Perhaps it is because of this gentle way the diesel engine delivers its performance, the M550d doesn’t feel as quick as it actually is. But don’t worry, pressing the throttle to the floor makes the speedometer needle rise umbeliavably quickly. And the best thing is that you don’t always have to push the car to its limits, but just getting the feel of that enormous mount of torque brings smile to your face everytime you experience it.

Now this brings us to another matter, that is important in a performance car, the sounds. In a performance car, the engine and exhaust sounds are a big part of the driving enjoyment. This is always a bit of a problem in diesel engined car, as the diesel engine doesn’t create naturally a very sporty soundtrack. BMW has solved this acoustic problem through sound design technology. The natural engine sound is specifically enhanced to suit the driving situation at the time and sent into the interior via car’s audio system. The system works incredibly well and inside the car, the BMW M550d sounds more like a petrol engined car. But knowing that the sounds are created artificially, gives you a mixed feelings. At first it sounds great, but after a while, you would like to turn it off.

The third thing that differs between the M5 and the M550d are the looks. Both cars have sporty appearance, but this M550d looks a bit more modest than the flashy M5. Compared to the standard 5 Series, the M550d comes with new airflow-optimised front and rear aprons. The front view is dominated by large air intakes. The spaces around the outer air intakes, that is normally reserved for foglamps on 5 Series models, are used to enhance the inflow of cooling air. The diffuser element in the rear apron optimises airflow around the underbody. The exhaust tailpipes, which are positioned far to the outer edges of the rear end, come with trapezoidal embellishers in Chrome Dark. Another distinguishing feature are the M550d lettering on the boot lid and front door sills.

Counting the differences between the M550d and the M5, the fourth and the last thing on our list is the drivetrain. For the drivers, who have to survive from the long winter season, it might be important to know that the M550d comes as standard four-wheel drive. What’s more, the xDrive all-wheel drive system in the M550d has a special M set-up. The electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system works using a bespoke control strategy, which allows the threat of understeer in extremely dynamic driving situations to be counteracted by adjustments to the power split, without the DSC system linked up to xDrive having to intervene. The system’s M-specific tuning accentuates the traditional rear-wheel bias of BMW cars when it comes to power distribution. The all-wheel-drive system sends more drive to the rear axle on the entry into a corner, delivering exceptionally precise cornering and impressive directional stability. In addition, the likewise standard Performance Control divides power between the rear wheels to maximise the cars’ sports performance.

So if you’re considering for a new BMW, the decision making have just got harder. Even making decision between the M5 and M550d is not very easy. For the current M5 drivers, the new M550d might not be sporty enough, but for those who are moving up from the BMW 5 Series model to a sportier version, the new M550d could be a perfect choice.





  • Diesel
  • 6-cylinder
  • 2993cc
  • Turbo


  • 280 kW (381 hp) / 4000-4400rpm


  • 740 Nm (546 lb-ft) / 2000-3000rpm


  • 8-speed automatic
  • AWD

0-100km/h / 0-62mph

  • 4.9 seconds

Top speed

  • 250 km/h

Fuel consumption

  • 6.4 l/100km

CO2 emissions

  • 169 g/km

BMW M550d 2012_09


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