The BMW M550i is a surprise package in many ways. While it lacks the brawn and prestige of a ‘proper’ M car, it proved to be a worthy addition to the 2021 MOTOR Performance Car of the Year field throughout testing.
Priced at $152,900, the M550i is a cut-price alternative to the full-fat M5, but its MOTOR Shootout lap showed that you aren’t sacrificing much in terms of outright performance by saving your coin.
After two laps in hot conditions, the best time for the M550i around Winton Raceway was a stout 1:35.4.
Sure, neither the RS6 or M550i are purpose-built track scalpels, but the fact that the Bavarian sedan is nearly a second quicker than Ingolstadt’s champion hauler is a boon for the BMW.
The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 is a powerhouse that turns this visually unassuming executive sedan into a rapid sports-car harassing sleeper.
The M550i packs 390kW between 5500-6000rpm, but it’s the meaty 750Nm available from 1800rpm until 4600rpm that really gets the four-door hustling.
Add to that prodigious grip from the Bridgestone Potenza S007 tyres and this 1810kg saloon had our ace driver Karl Reindler thoroughly surprised.
“Sharp!” exclaimed Reindler just a couple of turns into his two-lap run in the M550i.
“[It’s] a real surprise package, it was so good on corner entry and braking stability to the apex,” he explained after extracting himself from the hot seat.
“Off the corner, it just washed out a little bit at times, but honestly it is so good to the apex you can keep the car turning and just plant your foot down and it just launches off the corner.
“This thing does everything right.”
It’s not just direct rivals like the RS6 that needs to be worried about the BMW’s lap time either. A 1:35.4 is seriously quick around Winton, and the rest of the PCOTY field have a tough benchmark to beat.
We will be revealing a new MOTOR Shootout lap each week, so make sure to check back to see how the punch Ford Fiesta ST performs on February 11.
Until then, you can see how the M550i compared to others on the MOTOR Shootout leaderboard here.