2018 BMW 550i XDrive

MIAMII — BMW — which is much easier to remember than“Bayerische Motoren Werke” AG, or in English, “Bavarian Motor Works” — has championed the slogan “The  Ultimate Driving Machine” since the 1970s, and it doesn’t take a long time behind the wheel of just about any of its models to see that that is no idle boast. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to drive every one of its offerings, I have never been disappointed by the performance of any of those I have.

Power and handling is always at the top of its class. But Teutonic technology can be overwhelming. I find BMWs at times to be over-engineered to the point that all the gadgets and gizmos detract from the enjoyment you get from the overall experience.

German designers and engineers seem to have a knack for taking the most basic of tasks, like changing a radio station or adjusting the scale on the navigation map, and complicating them to the point of frustration.

At times, too, BMW strays from the vehicle’s mission, like cutting down on storage for a crossover SUV.

But that was not the case with my week in the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive. Not this time.

The M550i xDrive is a new addition to BMW’s 5-Series lineup, the first time the company has offered an M Performance version of what it calls its business sedan.

Under the hood is a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 that pumps out 460 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 480 pound-feet of torque at only 1800 rpm, propelling the five-passenger vehicle from zero to 60 mph in under 4.0 seconds.

It is mated with an 8-speed Sport automatic transmission with Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings with the xDrive system sending all that power to all four wheels, though the bias toward the rear wheels results in more of a rear-wheel drive feel.

As with the 540i, the M550i comes with a ton of technological features the operation of which BMW is either dumbing down or I’m getting used to it. I still would like a separate knob to surf the radio dial, but then I’m a techno-Neanderthal.

Among items included in the base MSRP of $73,095 (including destination and delivery) are M Sport brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tires, power trunk lid, keyless entry and push-button start, moonroof, automatic climate control, adaptive LED headlights, navigation, aerodynamic kit and rear spoiler, rear-view camera, 20-way power adjustable front seats with 4-way lumbar support, leather and wood interior trim, and BMW’s iDrive 6.0 system with touchscreen, touchpad, and a 10.5-inch display screen.

Adding such extras as a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, NightVision with pedestrian detection, a Dynamic Handling Package (adaptive suspension and active roll stabilization), a head-up display, an Executive Package (soft-close automatic doors, ceramic controls, wireless charging, WiFi hotspot, and enhanced USB and Bluetooth), and a Parking Assistance Package ran the total for my test car to $88,985.

The cabin ambiance is the final touch. Yes, the M550i is a performance vehicle, but it’s also full-on luxury with a smooth, quiet ride to coddle the most finicky of riders. I’ve got to say the interior is pleasing to the eyes as well as well as comfortable for your tush.

What I liked about the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive: Sport+ mode provides a treat for the ears as it adjusts the dual exhaust as well as enhanced performance that makes this midsize sedan a joy to drive.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive: Operating the infotainment system isn’t quite the task it used to be (maybe I’m getting used to it), but making the simplest of adjustments still requires extra steps that can be a distraction when you are driving. Not everything needs to be operated off the screen.

Would I buy the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive? Yes. You can get into the 5-Series for much less than the M550i’s price tag, but you’ll miss out on getting all it has to offer.

— Paul Borden