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If you want to buy a fast, new BMW 5 Series, the obvious choice would be the BMW M5. However, BMW released the M550i in 2017 to bridge the gap from the 540i to the M5. With 456 horsepower and a 0-60 time under four seconds, the M550i was faster to 60 than the previous M5, featured more luxuries, and even came with all-wheel drive. When the all-new M5 was revealed in 2018, the M550i’s reign of being the fastest 5 Series was cut short since the former boasted 600 horsepower and 0-60 in the low three-second range, it blew the M550i out of the water. In 2020, the M550i’s engine (N63) was now the N63TU. The TU at the end of it stands for “technical update”, this changed the game for the buyer who wanted an M5.
What Is TU In The M550i Engine?
BMW has used the term TU many times with many different engines, during each TU BMW always addressed issues that plagued the previous version of an engine, in turn bettering its reliability and performance. In this circumstance, BMW added 67 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque to a now class-leading 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. This dropped 0-60 times to the low-mid three-second range, which decimated its rivals, the Audi S6 and the AMG E53. With Audi dropping its V-8 S6, the M550i is the only midsize luxury sedan that is offered in a V-8 that is not a full-out performance sedan (AMGs, Ms, and Blackwings not included). Not many people know about this change from the 2019-2020 M550s as it was not advertised much; bad play on BMW’s part as it completely separated the M550i from everything else in its class.
The M550i Also Comes With All-Wheel-Drive!
The M550i comes solely with BMW’s XDrive all-wheel drive system that will help you claw your way through the winter months along with giving you strong traction out of corners. The car can be fitted with an array of different options ranging from different cruise control capabilities to rear seat entertainment options. Yes, you can watch movies while cruising at 150 miles per hour, all for under $80,000, which leads us to our next point.
The M550i Offers the Absolute Best Bang For The Buck
In a world where car prices are inflated beyond anything we could have imagined, it’s nice to know that there are still bargains. Starting at $79,900 USD, the 523-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 BMW M550i xDrive is a whopping $28,000 cheaper than the M5, and that is where the real magic is. With the way things are going, I am not sure how much longer you can get a gurgling V-8 from BMW, especially for under $80,000. Luckily, the M550 does not need many options to be great, just choose your color and add BMW’s “Driving Assistance Professional Package” for $1,700, and you have a perfect daily driver in all weather conditions thanks to standard all-wheel drive. Of course, you can’t forget about the much more forgiving ride quality when compared to the M5.
On the topic of the M5, not only does it cost $28,000 more than the M550i, it requires a few options to truly live up to its name, such as the “M Drivers package” ($2,500), “Competition Package” ($7,600), and the “Driving Assistance Professional Package” ($1,700). When all is said and done, the number of options you can add to an M550i will still not get you to the base price of a new M5. This is absolutely ridiculous given the fact that the performance difference is minimal and the liveability of the M550i is far greater than the M5, all for an extraordinary amount less.
If you are in the market for a midsize sports sedan, I’d say BMW as a brand is on top right now, although it’s not the car you think. The M550i checks all the boxes as an amazing all-around daily driver and sports sedan, all for under $80,000. Sure, it may lack the sharper edge of the M5 but at the end of the day, who is going to be pushing these 4,000-pound cars to the limit on a track every day? These are cars that people daily drive to work and bring their kids to school. Do yourself a favor and save yourself the money over an M5, buy an M550i and then get yourself a nice track car with the $28,000 you saved.