BMW has officially (and finally) announced the M550i for Britain. As part of the updated G30 5 Series range, the twin-turbo V8-powered super-saloon will now bridge the gap to the forthcoming M5 meaning that for the first time UK buyers will be given the option of buying a 530hp model capable of cracking 62mph in just 3.8 seconds. Beneath the new Q-car the 5 Series facelift gets a little more predictable, with BMW electrifying everything in a bid to cut CO2.
But first, the M550i. Using a lesser-tuned version of the M5’s 4.4-litre motor, it’s good for an autobahn-shrinking 553lb ft of torque, while 20-inch rims, an M-Sport differential and adaptive suspension ought to ensure the saloon-only model tackles bends adroitly enough. Unsurprisingly, there’s no mention of an M5-aping rear-drive mode for the £67,595 xDrive-enabled M550i. But the car can claim significant USP as a high-powered, sub-M5 variant, with Mercedes not presently offering an E-Class to directly rival it.
Britain’s appetite for quick stuff suggests the newcomer will prove popular, although inevitably, the more attainable models beneath it will be the core sellers. Arguably the most significant of that bunch is a new 545e, a saloon-only plug-in hybrid that mates BMW’s latest twin-turbo six-pot to its fourth-gen 12kW electric drive system. No performance figures are available for the 545e at this stage (it’s not actually out until November), but you'd imagine that a technical setup that incorporates an 11hp starter generator would overhaul the 340hp offered by the old petrol-powered 540i as it undercuts its CO2 emissions.
We say ‘old’ 540i because it’s actually been dropped from the 5 Series saloon range, becoming a Touring-only variant in the process. This xDrive-only model keeps BMW’s twin-turbo straight-six but – along with all other previously un-electrified 5 Series variants using four and six-cylinder engines – it gains 48v mild hybrid tech as standard. BMW quotes a lower 333hp peak output for the model, suggesting it has a newfound focus for efficiency with the M550i handling the sillier end. That being said, the proper plug-in hybrid 530e should better it thanks to its continued twinning of a four-pot petrol with electric drive. The model’s final stats are also TBC, but it was previously good for a 30-mile electric range. It’s being added to the Touring range from November.
Fans of the pre-update G30 range will be relieved to note the 2020 car has for the most part dodged the big-grille bullet. More significant to the front end’s look are slimmer headlights and their new LED light internal design, which brings the 5 Series in line with the 7 Series. There’s some more black detailing on the taillights, too, but other than that, most of us would need two cars parked side-by-side to spot the minor aesthetic changes elsewhere. Things are much the same inside, hence the lack of cabin pics supplied at this time.
We’re told to expect a larger 12.3-inch infotainment screen (2.05 inches larger than before) running off BMW’s seventh-gen operating system, with the maker’s Intelligent Personal Assistant tech and smartphone integration as standard. Only now the software can update automatically via an over the air connection. The refreshed G30 also gets new camera- and radar-based driving assistant systems, such as steering, lane and parking assistants, as well as active cruise control. But the basic setup is familiar from the pre-update model – as per the norm in mid-life refreshes like this – which is no bad thing, given the 5 Series’ myriad talents.
The trim levels remain SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition, with other features including adaptive dampers or the more advanced Adaptive M suspension Professional, which gets active roll-stabilisation, all on the option list. Order your entry 5 Series – a 520i – sans ticked boxes and you could take delivery of a 2020 G30 in exchange for £37,480, a figure that actually undercuts the old starting price by a few hundred quid. For those wondering, the new 545e will start at £54,945. Certainly, there’s plenty there to suggest the 5 Series’ reign as the segment’s best-selling model might continue for some time.
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