• Pinterest

BMW took the wraps off the seventh-generation 5-Series today at the Detroit auto show — and threw in an M550i xDrive performance variant to boot. A 530e iPerformance model was also unveiled, but it’s the guttural-sounding M performance sedan that piques our interest.

Powering the M550i is a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, producing 462 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. BMW says it’ll go 0-60 in 4.0 seconds or less. An optional M Sports exhaust system gives the car a proper V8 growl, which was demonstrated for us at the show.

Putting all that power down is a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system — no rear-wheel drive, but it does look like BMW might let you have some sideways fun with more power being directed to the rear wheels. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard for the M550i, and sadly, there’s no mention of a manual for this sporty model. BMW does say this transmission has been tuned to offer quicker shifts all the way around, though, so we’ll reserve final judgment for the first drive.

An adaptive M Sport suspension lowers the ride height by 10 mm on the already aggressively tuned M setup. This car also takes advantage of the improvements made to the base 5-Series, like its reduced weight and plethora of technology. The new sedan drops up to 220 pounds over its predecessor depending on what trim you buy, hopefully making for a lighter and sprightlier-feeling sports sedan.

Engine options remain the same as before: The 530i gets BMW’s 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder producing 252 hp, while the 540i sports the 3.0-liter straight-six making 340 hp. However, there is another 5-Series variant we didn’t have before, dubbed the 530e iPerformance. Similar to the 330e, this plug-in hybrid produces a combined 252 hp (184 hp from the gas engine and 95 hp from the 70kW electric motor). You’ll get up to 31 miles of fully electric driving before needing to use the gas engine, and with both the gas and electric motor in action, it’ll scoot to 60 in 6.2 seconds. 

The seventh-gen 5-Series also comes with the full suite of driver-assistance systems as optional, including evasion aid, cross-traffic warning system, lane-change warning and adaptive cruise control. A 10.25-inch display sits atop the dash and runs the latest version of iDrive from BMW.

Aesthetically speaking, the new 5-Series doesn’t strike us as a big image change — even the M550i doesn’t look too different compared to a 530i — but we’re hoping under the skin of the base model and M550i is a true sports sedan with improved handling and feel.

Expect the new base 5-Series sedan to roll into dealerships this February. If you’re more interested in the 530e or M550i, you’ll need to hold out until March.