• Why I’d Skip the BMW M5 For The M550i

An opinionated realist here to squash your bad choices

Hopefully you’ve read my thoughts on the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive I recently spent a week with. If not, you should. Hopefully you’ve also read the opinions of our fearless editor, Robert Moore, on whether the new 2018 BMW M5 is a waste of money compared to the M550i. If not, again, you should. But having spent time with BMW’s slightly less M-ified 5 Series, I wanted to chime in on the topic. Buckle your seatbelts, you might not like my answer.

My confession wouldn’t feel out-of-place in an AA-style meeting: “Hi, I’m Mark and I love horsepower and speed. Oh, and find comfort in tire smoke and going 140 mph down the back straight at Monticello with a V-8 screaming in my ear.” Yeah, I’m that guy. So, it might come as a surprise to hear that I’d buy the M550i over the M5 nine times out of 10. Why? It’s simple: The M550i is a better all-round daily driver that looks just as good as the M5 and has just as much usable horsepower for public roads. See, here’s the thing. I’m not the guy who needs the ultimate version of something to feel self-worth and gratification. My ego would be just fine not having that M5 badge affixed to my BMW. I’m also a realist with a strong suspicion I wouldn’t be autocrossing my five-passenger, full-size sedan every weekend. That’s what Miatas and Corvettes are for. And with the money I’m not spending in the M5, I can buy a mint Miata and throw speed parts at it. And let’s face it, two cars are better than one.

Continue reading for more ramblings.

M550i > M5

2018 BMW M550i xDrive – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Exterior
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I hear the BMW loyalists already screaming. I feel you – I’m fully aware the M5 makes 135 more horsepower and 73 more pound-feet of torque. I know it has a trick AWD system with three modes, one of which only powers the rear wheels (which technically makes it’s a part-time 4WD system, which is freaking cool). I know it can be optioned with carbon ceramic brakes. And yeah, I hear it will hit 60 mph in a scant 3.2 seconds and boasts a top speed of 189 mph. That’s great.

But I’d still buy the M550i xDrive.

Why? Be honest – are you (would anybody) really going to miss that 135 extra horsepower when tooling around town? How many times would you engage RWD mode and make smoky burnouts with your Michelin Pilot Sport 4S at roughly $300 a piece? And those carbon ceramic brakes? Yeah, enjoy sliding your credit card when it comes time to replace them.

The new 2018 M550i xDrive is perfectly capable of breaking necks with brute acceleration, sounds like madness, handles like a dream despite its all-season tires and is 7 Series comfortable

Here’s the bottom line: I’ve spent a week and some 350 miles getting intimately acquainted to the new 2018 M550i xDrive. It’s perfectly capable of breaking necks with brute acceleration, sounds like madness, handles like a dream despite its all-season tires, is 7 Series comfortable, and is fully able to land you in jail should the cops somehow catch up. It’s unquestionably a fully baked sports sedan. Add to that the extra money the M5 requires to buy or lease. (2018 M5 prices are expected to start around $100,000 while the M550i starts at $73,400.) That goes back to my point about having more than one car. Of course, for a vast majority of M5 buyers, cost won’t matter.

Still, for my buck, I’d skip the M5 and be completely happy with the low-key M550i. Then again, 600 horsepower can make a man do things outside his character. Your move, BMW. Impress me.

BMW M5 BMW M550i
Engine 4.4-liter V-8 4.4-liter V-8
Horsepower 591 HP @ 5,600 – 6,700 RPM 456 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 553 LB-FT @ 1,800 – 5,600 RPM 480 LB-FT @ 1,800 RPM
Transmission Eight-speed M Steptronic Eight-Speed Auto
0 to 60 mph 3.4 seconds 4.0 Seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 155 mph


2018 BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M5.

2018 BMW M550i xDrive

2018 BMW M550i xDrive
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive.

2018 BMW M550i xDrive – Driven

Why I'd Skip the BMW M5 For The M550i High Resolution Exterior
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Read our driven review on the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive.

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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