2019 BMW M550 Exterior
The speed limit just clicked from 120 km/h to unlimited, but the guy in the 10-year-old black Mercedes-Benz C-class diesel won’t get the hell out of my way. We’re heading westbound on the A8 autobahn, about 50 miles southeast of Munich. Spring is late, and the freezing rain hasn’t let up for days.
I’m driving a 2019 BMW M550i xDrive, and it wants to eat. BMW says it’s the quickest 5-series sedan of all time, even outaccelerating the F10-generation M5, which just ceased production.
I flick the high-beams again. The guy knows he should move over, he knows I have three times his horsepower, but he won’t budge. In Germany you expect lane discipline. This guy must be from Ohio.
In frustration I pull up tight to his tattered rear bumper. Finally, he begins to change lanes but first gives me a spray from his windshield washers in a final act of defiance. Maybe he’s from New Jersey.
It Is Alive
The BMW’s Sport+ mode tightens the suspension, adds weight to its steering, and injects a serious dose of amphetamine into its powertrain. I engage it now and the throttle becomes hypersensitive, while the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, which has been tuned more aggressively for this application, holds gears longer and shifts harder. Now the car feels alive. With far more force than is required, I introduce the M550i’s throttle pedal to its carpet. The automatic quickly drops to fourth gear and the twin-turbo 4.4-liter unleashes serious thrust along with a proper V-8 soundtrack.
To deliver more raucous noises in Sport+ (as well as in Sport and DSC Off modes), the M Sport exhaust system that’s specific to this model includes a butterfly valve, and opening the pipes sounds good—throaty with a nice burble. But it’s not obnoxious and thankfully lacks the trendy manufactured pops and bangs on the overruns. (We’re looking at you, Jaguar and Mercedes.) BMW isn’t holding to some purist line, though: It still pumps V-8 roar into the cabin through the audio system.