BMW M Performance Automobiles: Comment

Even for BMW enthusiasts and aficionados, the whole ‘M’ thing is about to get confusing. You see BMW M GmbH is about to launch an all-new product category called BMW M Performance Automobiles.
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Let’s be clear, right from the outset, this new M line of automobiles are not the bona fide M cars, as we know them, but they are related, kind of. I’m referring here to the 1M, M3, M5, M6, X6M and X5M models. Have I missed any?

The press kit says, “The BMW M Performance Automobiles stand out with their exceptionally powerful engines, enhanced agility and precision handling, their emotional laden and unrestricted everyday practicality, and their impressive efficiency given the performance on offer. All are based on current BMW models.”

That line above, which mentions, ‘exceptionally powerful engines’ might sound like marketing spin, but rest assured, you’ll want to read on.

The particular engine they’re referring to is a newly developed in-line six-cylinder diesel with no less than three turbochargers and produces a staggering 280kW and 740 Nm of torque. Here’s where it gets even more interesting.

The M550d xDrive sedan under full steam with this engine will accelerate from 0-100km/h in a blistering 4.7 seconds. That’s precisely the same time it took the previous (E60) M5 to do the same job. But here’s the punch line; in the EU test cycle, fuel consumption was 6.3L/100km, while CO2 emissions are 165g/km. This folks, is a game changer, at least when it comes to diesel powered production sedans.

The bad news is that BMW Australia will not be bringing the M550d into Australia, as BMW AG have no plans to develop the car for right-hand drive markets, due to the complexity of re-engineering the all-wheel drive platform known as ‘xDrive’.

However, BMW will be bringing both the X5 M50d and the X6 M50d to Australia, which should see them on the ground here, from around June this year.

Local pricing for both vehicles is also said to be not too far away.

Both these vehicles are powered by the same super diesel from the M550d sedan, providing the X5 and X6 versions with 0-100km/h sprint times of 5.4 and 5.3 seconds respectively. Top speed is 250km/h.

Fuel consumption is slightly compromised by the sheer weight of the two SUV models, but 7.5L/100km and 7.7L/100km is still exceptional when you consider size and performance.

Both M performance vehicles will get BMW’s eight-speed sports automatic transmission, with M-specific gearshift dynamics for very quick gear changes and almost no loss of power between shifts.

The xDrive all wheel drive system is an electronically controlled unit that sends drive to the rear wheels in normal driving situations, but the multi plate clutch set up can distribute the engine’s power between the front and rear wheels depending on conditions at the time.

Even the chassis is an M-specification set up using air suspension with self-leveling at the rear axle, in conjunction with a double-joint spring-strut front axle and integral rear axle for what BMW say will be accurate steering and precise handling.

The X6 M50d also gets electronically controlled dampers, and active anti-roll with adaptive drive as standard kit, but it's optional on the X5 M50d.

Visually, the M performance vehicles will differ from the standard X models too, including larger and more aggressive front air intakes to cool the engine.

The X5 M50d will add standard spec 19-inch M light alloy wheels, while the X6 M50d gains 20-inch versions, cloaking a large format braking system with 385mm front rotors and 345mm stoppers on the rears.

Inside, there are more M touches, with M-performance lettering on the door sills, along with M touches in the instrument cluster and the gear- shift lever, M leather steering wheel with paddles. Alcantara/Nappa leather M sports seats are also standard kit on both models, and are embossed with M logos.

There is also an extensive inventory of standard equipment across both models, as you would expect in this premium category.

More details later.