26/01/2012 BMW M Performance: Three new models, three turbos each
BMW’s M division has been a pioneer of high-powered petrol engines for some time – but now it’s turning its hand to performance diesels, as it introduces the first three models of its new M Performance Automobiles range.
As reported earlier by Classic Driver, the new cars will be designated M Performance. To begin with, three existing models in the BMW range will be given the treatment: the 5 Series (both saloon and Touring versions), and the X5 and X6 SUVs. The beating hearts of the M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d will be triple-turbocharged, performance-orientated diesel engines of 3.0-litre capacity and six-cylinder arrangement, churning out 376bhp and 545lb ft of torque – the latter figure upstaging the petrol M-badged siblings by some margin (44lb ft to be precise).
While the left-hand-drive M550d will send power to all four corners (making it the first non-SUV to wear the hallowed M badge), UK cars will retain the traditional BMW rear-wheel-drive layout. M enthusiasts are sure to welcome this compatibility-forced decision – particularly as it also equates to a weight reduction of around 70kg. This should help towards BMW’s claimed return of 44.8mpg on the combined cycle, which is made viable by the inclusion of stop-start, brake energy recuperation and on-demand engine ancillaries. The off-road pair will retain their four-wheel-drive abilities in the UK, though claimed economy figures for the X5 M50d and X6 M50d are lower, at 37.7mpg and 36.7mpg respectively.
Not only do the M Performance cars receive their own engines, they also get performance-focused steering and chassis settings, and in some cases components shared with their M siblings. Also, styling has been given a subtle tweak in the form of redesigned bumpers, alloy wheels of at least 19-inch diameter and different mirrors and exhaust pipes. Both exterior and interior are given the corresponding M Performance insignia.
The new models will integrate neatly into the existing model ranges, plugging a gap between the best-equipped standard models and the M-badged range-toppers in terms of price, performance and appointment. Taking the X6 M50d as an example, the 0-62mph sprint is completed in 5.3 seconds (the xDrive 40d cracks it in 6.5 seconds; the M version 4.7), while the price is £62,260 – commensurate with the £48,915 40d and £82,190 X6 M. You can also expect conforming equipment levels.
Plans are afoot to expand the M Performance range by incorporating warm versions of other models; however, these won’t be limited to diesel power. It's likely that petrol propulsion will be used in ranges without a current M car, such as the X1, X3, Z4 and 7 Series. The Munich giant has seemingly taken notice of the success of neighbours Audi and their successful ‘S’ sub-brand, which sits beneath more potent ‘RS’ models.