There has never been a time such as now where diesel power is such an attractive proposition. Most of the über luxury brands now have diesel performance cars with headline power and torque figures. The push this way has been mainly due to the better economy diesel engines offer compared to their petrol counterparts. In essence this translates to fewer trips to the pump and more mileage.
BMW yesterday announced the launch of the new M550d xDrive. This replaces the outgoing model and comes with a 3.0 litre straight six diesel engine equipped with four turbo chargers. There are two high pressure turbo chargers and two low pressure turbo chargers. One high pressure turbo charger and the two low pressure turbo chargers are constantly working at all engine speeds. The extra high pressure turbo charger only comes into play at engine speeds over 2500 rpm. All of this in a nut shell not only improves the performance of the engine and ensures early on torque delivery but it also aids in the responsiveness of the engine. BMW claims this is the most powerful six cylinder diesel engine fitted to a car with an output of 264kw(400hp) at 4000rpm and 760Nm of torque between 2000-3000rpm.
Power is sent to all four wheels through BMW’s steptronic automatic transmission giving the car a 0-100kph time of 4.4s in the saloon and 4.6s in the estate. The 8 speed gearbox had to be specially tuned to handle all the torque on offer. Keeping with BMW tradition the four wheel drive system has a rear bias.
The M550d comes with the M aerodynamic package as standard which features a larger air intake and a rear boot spoiler. This optimises the cars aerodynamics helping it to curve a smooth a path through air as possible but the larger air intake helps to cool the diesel engine. The aerodynamic package also aids the aesthetics of the car.The suspension has been lowered by 10mm and the car has bespoke 19 inch alloy wheels with mixed tyres. Rear wheel steering also comes as standard.
BMW’s closest rival is Mercedes’ E-Class but unfortunately Mercedes doesn’t make diesel high performance variants of the E-Class. The E43 AMG 4Matic comes as standard with 4 wheel drive and a twin turbo charged V6 petrol engine churning out 295kw(401hp) and 520Nm of torque.
The M550d saloon will go on sale in July with the estate version going on sale later in the year. While not a fully blown M-Car the M550d xDrive brings us one step closer to the M5.