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by Tim Beissmann

BMW Australia will launch two high-performance SUVs with triple-turbo diesel engines around the middle of this year.

The German luxury sports manufacturer has taken the wraps off the first three vehicles in its new M Performance Automobiles range: the X5 M50d, X6 M50d and the 5-Series-based M550d. All three will officially debut at the 2012 Geneva motor show in March.

The two high-performance SUV variants will sit just below the M flagship cars in their respective model lines. The X6 M50d will arrive with the facelift of the X6 range, which is also due around the middle of the year. Both models will be priced between the ’50i’ and ‘M’ variants, suggesting a potential price tag of around $150,000 for the X5 M50d and $165,000 for the X6 M50d.

The M550d sedan and wagon are not confirmed for our market, as BMW has only announced left-hand-drive production for those models at this stage.

All three vehicles are powered by the same all-new diesel engine. The subject of much speculation, the 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo unit will indeed use three turbochargers (a first for BMW) to help it produce 280kW of power (4000-4400rpm) and 740Nm of torque (2000-3000rpm). Those power figures may be some way off the 408-412kW produced by the X5 M, X6 M and M5, but all three generate 60Nm more torque than the V8 petrol-powered performance flagships.

BMW says the three turbochargers – one large turbo and two smaller ones – ensure maximum power delivery across a wide rev band.

The X5 M50d accelerates from 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds and uses 7.5 litres of fuel per 100km under to European combined driving standards. The X6 M50d is one-tenth quicker to 100km/h (5.3secs) and burns through 7.7L/100km. The M550d races from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds (4.9secs for the wagon), and uses just 6.3L/100km (wagon: 6.4L/100km).

The M550d variant meets Euro 6 emissions standards, thanks to its average CO2 output of 165-169 grams per kilometre, while the SUVs are Euro 5-compliant, emitting 199-204g/km CO2.

All models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Air suspension on the rear axle is standard for the SUVs. Self-levelling Adaptive Drive is standard on the X6 and optional for the X5.

All three get subtle exterior aerodynamic and styling enhancements, including grey metallic mirrors and air intake bars, trapezoidal exhaust pipes and high-gloss alloy wheels (19s for the M550d, 20s for the SUVs).

The interior is highlighted with Alcantara upholstery elements, contrast stitching, BMW M steering wheel with paddle shifters, and aluminium trim inserts.

The long options list includes a number of BMW ConnectedDrive assistance systems: head-up display, adaptive headlights, night vision wit pedestrian detection, active cruise control, and lane-change warning system, along with internet access and real-time traffic and speed limit information.




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