Following the recent announcement that BMW is planning to introduce a new line of sporting cars under its M Performance banner (which can be found on the News pages at www.eurotuner.com), it has introduced the first four models. However, we’ve learned that presently these vehicles are not planned for the US market. That said, the products certainly look interesting and perhaps consumer pressure will change this policy.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these new vehicles is they all feature the most powerful diesel engine BMW has ever fitted. The six-cylinder in-line engine developed for the BMW M Performance Automobiles uses its 2993cc displacement to generate 381hp, giving the new diesel a specific output of 127.3hp per liter. No less imposing is the maximum torque of 546 lb-ft, which is available from as low as 2000rpm.
These are also the first diesel models to wear M badges from an engineering standpoint, rather than as part of a styling and equipment package. We’ve long been talking to BMW about introducing a diesel-powered M car and this appears to be the response.
Playing a central role in the 3.0L engine’s power increase is its TwinPower Turbo technology. For the first time, a BMW engine will feature three turbochargers. The size, arrangement and interplay of the turbos is designed to guarantee maximum power delivery across a wide band.
The system comprises two relatively small turbochargers and a large one, which join forces to deliver the power required. According to the driving situation, the low moment of inertia of the small turbos is exploited to deliver sharp responses, while the larger turbo is maximized to generate as much pressure as possible.
The efficiency of the new diesel engine is further optimized by innovations including a new development in common-rail direct injection technology, featuring piezo injectors working at a pressure of 2200 bar (31900psi).
The first model releases is the BMW M550d xDrive. Again we see the company abandoning its tradition numbering system, with the second and third digits refers to engine size – although there is a precedent for turbos getting larger numbers. The xDrive refers to its all-wheel drive ability.
This model is available as both a sedan and Touring (wagon) variant. Both prove that the pulling power of diesel can be converted into inspirational driving dynamics.
The BMW M550d xDrive Sedan, for example, accelerates from 0-62mph in a staggering 4.7 seconds, while the Touring covers the same sprint in 4.9 seconds. The two models showcase the efficiency of diesel technology equally convincingly. In the EU test cycle the Sedan recorded fuel consumption of just 37.3mpg US, the Touring 36.7mpg. CO2 emissions are 165g/km for the Sedan and 169g/km for the Touring.
The standard eight-speed Sports automatic transmission comes with paddles on the steering wheel and is given model-specific settings, enabling rapid gear changes and helping the engine's performance characteristics to be exploited to the greatest degree.
Meanwhile, the xDrive improves the cornering dynamics, as well as enhancing traction and directional stability.
Meanwhile, the air-channeling properties, handling and appearance of both BMW M550d xDrive variants benefit from aerodynamically optimized body elements at the front and rear, Ferric Grey mirrors and air intake bars, plus exclusive 20” wheels (available as an option).
The BMW X5 M50d and BMW X6 M50d achieve the same 381hp and 546 lb-ft as before. However, the extra weight is reflected in 0-62mph times of 5.4 seconds for the X5, 5.3 seconds for the X6. While average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle stands at 31.3mpg US for the X5 and 30.5mpg for the Sports Activity Coupé - only slightly above the figures for the existing diesel variants of the two models.
The cars have similar enhanced eight-speed Sports automatic transmission as before, again with xDrive, and all four cars have been tuned to emphasize the traditional rear-wheel set-up of BMW cars.
The BMW X5 M50d and BMW X6 M50d underline their sporting intent with model-specific body features, 19” M wheels fitted as standard; 20” on the X6. The cars also have Ferric Grey metallic mirror caps and air intake bars – a distinguishing feature of BMW M Performance Automobiles.