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Farmers Market Bound in the New 2018 BMW M550i

by Michael Taylor (@trackworthy),

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This is the first ever M Performance version of the all-new 2018 BMW M550i xDrive. It is the fastest accelerating 5-series sedan that BMW has ever unleashed on public roads, and it will reach 100 km/h from rest in just four seconds. It is faster than all previous generations of the iconic M5, but not as quick as the all-new 600 hp 2018 M5, which will rocket to 100 km/h in just 3.4 seconds. The M550i is extremely quick, especially considering that this solid (2 ton) four-door sedan can out-accelerate many pure sports cars.

THE PERFECT COMPROMISE & COMBINATION?

The BMW 5 series is available in five different levels of performance; the 530e, 530i, 540i, the M badged M550i and the most extreme version, the M5. The new M550i just might be the best combination and compromise of price and performance.
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Adding $12,050 to the price of the 540i gets you a big lift in performance with the M550i’s M Performance TwinPower turbocharged 4.4 litre V8 engine, which generates 455 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. For those who must have the ultimate, top of the line (a.k.a. most expensive), it will take an additional $31,300 to move up from the M550i to the M5. The M5 is the ultimate performance incarnation of the 5 series sedan. But for those who drive to work every day, head up north on the occasional weekend, and get to the odd track day, the M550i provides the driver with a very enthusiastic and rewarding driving experience, for a lot less than the M5 and not that much more than the 540i.
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OPTIONS

Our M550i was fitted with $10,250 in options, including the $6,500 Premium Package, $750 Smartphone Connectivity Package and the $1,500 Napa Leather interior. The $1,500 Advanced Driver Assistance Package offers an impressive array of real-world driver assistances, including Steering and Lane Control, Evasion Assist, Front Cross Traffic Alert, Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go and Lane Keep Assist. All of the electronic nannies work very well. The system governs the car’s speed based on the speed and distance to the vehicle it is following, and increases and decreases speed accordingly. This happens so seamlessly that none of the passengers in the car are aware that the car’s speed is being meticulously managed by someone other than the driver.
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With Lane Departure Warning and City Collision Mitigation, while travelling at speeds of up to 60 km/h, the system will stop the car if it is about to hit something, i.e. a pedestrian. We did not have the courage to place a large object (i.e. a person) in front of the car, but we have to assume it works.

We enjoyed experimenting with the Parking Assist option to parallel or perpendicularly self-park the car. It is always fun to watch computers and sensors park the car for you, but, if you’re in a hurry, we recommend doing it yourself. We also enjoyed showing off the motion gesture capabilities to our passengers. Hover your hand in front of the centre console and move your finger in a small circular clockwise or counter clockwise motion and you can increase or decrease the volume of the radio without touching it. It is a bit of a showstopper, but tough to get accurate incremental volume adjustments. The swiping motions to change audio tracks, end phone calls, etc. works more accurately.

MSRP of our 2018 BMW M550i is $92,250 plus destination charge, fees and taxes, which is still more than $21,000 less expensive than a base M5. Is the M5 the ultimate 5 series? Yes. Is the M550i the almost ultimate 5 series? Absolutely.

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DR. JEKYLL

What’s really intriguing about the M550i is its ability to transform from Dr. Jeckyll to Mr. Hyde with the push of a button. Leave the car in Eco Pro driving mode and one is hard pressed to find a more pleasant limo-esque environment. Back seat occupants have plenty of legroom, dual climate control, two power outlets to charge devices, and sun shades if you want to keep the sun out (or hide from the paparazzi). And it doesn’t get much nicer than being surrounded by the optional Napa leather interior.

From the driver’s perspective, if you’re sitting in traffic and want to listen to some soothing music or make a phone call, the cabin is a very civilized place to be. Speaking of phones, once you drive a car with wireless charging you will never want to be without it again. Gone are the days of low battery anxiety if you are without a charging cable.

Want smooth, sophisticated, civilized comfort? No problem. The M550i delivers.

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MR. HYDE

When you’ve had enough of limo mode, push the Sport button to awaken Mr. Hyde. Enter Sport or Sport Plus mode and the M550i hunkers-down and lets you know that it is ready to go. There is a big change in the driving dynamics of the car when transitioning from Eco Pro to Sport. The suspension firms up, the steering feels more direct, the throttle response quickens, and the sound from the exhaust and the augmented interior engine cabin sound perks up. With so much horsepower and torque immediately at your command, the car really does feel like it’s ready for a few laps around your local race track powering out of the corners.

Want raw, aggressive handling with loud, testosterone-inducing power? No problem! The M550i delivers.

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FARMERS MARKET

We headed north from Toronto in our Carbon Black Metallic M550i to the Canal Road Farmers Market in Bradford, about 60 kms north of downtown Toronto. This farmers market is nestled in the heart of the Holland Marsh, or “Ontario’s vegetable patch,” as it is sometimes called. Neighbouring farmers grow a wide variety and huge quantity of fresh produce each year on more than 20,000 acres. Vegetable produce ranges from the common to the more exotic, including Asian radish and Chinese broccoli. More than $50 million worth of crops are harvested from the Holland Marsh each year. The Canal Road Farmer’s Market offers a wide selection of local produce, preserves and baked goods. It is open from June through November.
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BURGERS IN BRADFORD

The Kenzington Burger Bar, in the heart of Bradford, offers some of the best hamburgers north of Toronto. For the past 5 years the team there has been serving up delicious and creative burgers. The craziest of all, the Kitchen Sink Burger, costs $48, is made of one pound freshly ground beef, and if you can eat everything they serve with it within one hour, it’s on the house. We tried their turkey burger, and it was worth the drive from Toronto.
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OUR TAKE

We really enjoyed our time with the new M550i. Its looks are quite deceiving. We did not expect this much performance from such an understated and elegant sedan. 0-100 kms per hour in just 4 seconds is faster than so many pure sports cars. To put this in perspective, the base Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman take 5.1 seconds to reach 100 km/h, and the base Porsche 911 Carrera takes 4.6 seconds. This car is so much more about just acceleration but it does that, and everything else, very well. Hats off to BMW for delivering a dual personality sedan, capable of transforming at will from graceful elegance to performance enthusiast. We think BMW may have found the sweet-spot between luxury and performance, between road and track and between gentleman and beast.
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