2018 BMW M550i xDrive: Is It Any Good On a Race Track?
It’s a luxury rocket.
There’s simply no better way to describe the M550i than that. The N63TU2 engine is an absolute powerhouse. This is a very useful feature when accounting for my…gentle braking zones and corner entry speeds. Exiting the infamous Turn 9 and blasting down the front straight, the speedometer easily crested 130 MPH. Impressive, again considering my gentle treatment of the baked brakes, and resulting cornering speeds. From the outside, watching this maneuver is akin to watching a bullet ricochet. Turn 9 kinks the car up and shoots it out the other end, like a speeding bullet. BMW quotes a 0-to-60 MPH time of just 3.9 seconds, and it has no problems blasting way past 60.
This is about the furthest thing from a track-ready BMW imaginable, but apparently the chassis engineers didn’t tell the powertrain team this information. The sooner they stuff this engine into the smaller, and lighter 3-series, the better.
Don’t get me wrong, the handling dynamics of the car are solid. The xDrive all-wheel drive system keeps any shenanigans at bay, erring on the side of a mild understeer at the limit, but for 99% of consumers, this is a good thing. Likewise, the optional 20-inch M Double Spoke wheels, shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, offer an admirable level of adhesion to the pavement. Though, as an $1,100 option, you would certainly hope so. The M550i xDrive will never step out of line in the corners. In fact, it coddles the driver, keeping them away from harm’s reach.
the M550i also keeps drivers away from something else, something much more important. Sadly, as does seem to be the case with all new BMW products, the steering in this BMW is terrible. No matter which drive mode is selected, the electric power steering is utterly numb and lifeless. Who knows what those front tires are doing? Not the M550i, nor it’s pilot, that’s for sure. In the real world, it’s likely fine for the daily commute, but it will leave BMW brand loyalists cold and disheartened.