BMW M550i gets 530hp; 840i gets 340hp and RWD

Yep, it's time again for one of those multi-page 'seasonal' BMW press releases where it crushes a multitude of forthcoming titbits into one, not-at-all-easy-to-read masterplan, apparently written with no regard for what anyone outside the organisation might think important. Still, that's our problem, not yours. Let's begin at not the beginning.

The M550i xDrive. You might be familiar with this model if a) you visit continental Europe a lot or b) you have sufficient power of recall to remember that we drove it a couple of years ago. Back in 2017 it had a 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8. The new one will still have a 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8. The difference is that before the engine produced a measly 456hp, and from July it will develop 530hp. Which is substantially more.

The reasons, one suspects, are threefold. Firstly, the car was supposed to offer a genuine alternative to the M5, but with the Competition variant now churning out 625hp, 456hp is more than a base-spec 1 Series away. Secondly, BMW has just gone the expense of retuning the V8 for the recently launched M850i xDrive, so it had easy access to a more powerful variant. Thirdly, it means the badges now line up. Which is vaguely still a thing for BMW.

This means you also get the same 553lb ft of torque, which is obviously going to make the all-wheel-drive 5 Series even quicker than it was before - and when you consider that the previous version was already doing 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds, it's safe to assume that the model is now with half a second of the M5 Competition's 3.3 second benchmark.

How much should you care? Well that depends on whether the M550i is actually going to make it to the UK. The previous version didn't, but it's been rumoured that from next year, we just might. As ever, it'll depend on whether the manufacturer wants a 5 Series somewhere between where the 540i stops (£50k-ish) and the M5 starts (£90k-ish). There's plenty of room there - but volume? Only time - or an adamant BMW spokesperson - will tell us.

Moving on. The 840i. This is definitely coming, in both coupe and convertible formats, and that's good. Why? Well, because it introduces not only a 340hp straight-six (presumably identical to the 340hp straight-six in the Z4 M40i) to the range, but also standard fit rear-wheel drive. Early experience of the 8 Series suggests this will be to the model's advantage: the M850i xDrive is all very nice, but has way too much mechanical grip for its own good. Single driven axle to the rescue then.

Staying in the sports car arena, we also have confirmation that - from July - the cheapest Z4, the 197hp sDrive20i, will be sold as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. You can still have the eight-speed Steptronic if you prefer, but we're rather looking forward to trying the latest Z4 with a clutch pedal in the footwell; it might yet prove to be the interactive quality that the car is arguably missing.

Finally, there is the M4, where BMW M GmbH is 'sharpening the profile of its high-performance sports car models in the midsize premium segment as part of a restructuring of its product offering'. Which, of course means: 'there's a new M4 due next year, so we need to shift all the current ones we've got left and pronto'. Happily that's to the benefit of buyers because it means both coupe and convertible will get the Competition Package as standard.

In case you've been living under a rock, that means you get 450hp from the turbocharged straight-six, adaptive M suspension dampers, an extra-sporty (BMW's description) configuration of DSC and active differential, 20-inch wheels, special seats and the M Sport exhaust. Not half bad. No word on how that affects the M4's price in the UK yet. But let's think happy thoughts, eh...

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (95) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Nerdherder 20 May 2019

    Wouldn’t mind a 530hp M550i thanks.

  • LaurasOtherHalf 20 May 2019

    Popped into bmw at the weekend and we noticed a brand new delivery miles standard M4 with over £17k knocked off.


    WTF is it with modern bmw pricing? Every car seems to be at least 20% overpriced so they can knock huge numbers off to get you a “deal”. Do people really fall for it?

  • va1o 20 May 2019

    Any word on 840i or Z4 Manual pricing? I guess it should make both models more accessible

  • griffdude 20 May 2019

    If that M550i comes in an estate version it’ll be epic!

  • aston addict 20 May 2019

    Must we be ‘treated’ to the constant deluge of BMW news?

    Are PistonHeads on the BMW payroll, or just gifted a never ending stream of test drives in fancy locales?

    Joking aside, I’ve started to look at Engadget of all places for auto news, they frequently feature new car models never even featured here.

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