With more and more motorists switching from passenger cars to SUVs and CUVs, it’s no surprise that we’re beginning to see manufacturers not only expand their utility vehicle line-up but also add more performance variants.
BMW has been a leader in this trend and it’s muscling up its performance family with today’s debut of two new M Performance variants based on the latest X5 and all-new X7 “Sport Activity Vehicles.” Both new models will go into production in August at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and reach showrooms soon after.
Both the M Performance X5 and X7 will share the same powertrain, the latest version of BMW’s 4.4-liter Twinpower Turbo V-8. Paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, the engine pours out 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.
That’s enough to launch the 2020 BMW X5 M50i from 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds. The bigger X7 M50i will take 4.5 seconds to get there. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph with all-season tires, and 155 mph when summer performance tires are in use.
There are a variety of wheel and tire options, including all-season, run-flat and performance rubber in 20, 21 or 22-inch sizes. Underneath, both models feature M Sport Brakes, with two-piece disks and blue-painted M calipers.
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The N63 TwinPower V-8 has been upgraded with a a new aluminum alloy increasing the strength of the engine block, the Bavarian automaker claims. Other updates feduce frictional losses and withstand the stresses of flat-out performance driving. A new viscous damper on the crankshaft, meanwhile, helps enhance engine smoothness.
Power will be delivered to all four wheels through a rear-biased, performance-tuned version of BMW’s “intelligent” xDrive system. “(It) is able to split drive-torque between the front and rear wheels with great speed and precision”, the automaker explains. “Full power can be directed automatically by the system to the rear wheels in situations where all-wheel drive traction is not required.”
The two M Performance models also feature a standard-issue M Sport rear differential which helps direct power where most needed “when driving over road surfaces with differing levels of grip for the left-rear and right-rear wheels by reducing wheel spin when a specific tire is struggling for traction.”
BMW refers to ts eight-speed Sport Steptronic transmission as “intelligent.” Among other things, it can communicate with the vehicle’s navigation system to automatically shift on its own to make sure it’s in the optimum gear for upcoming terrain and road conditions.
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While no manual gearbox is offered, the M Performance models feature paddle shifters. They also have Launch Control for maximizing take-off performance.
The upgraded suspension starts out with a double-wishbone front and five-link rear, with bushings, springs and dampers upgraded for performance driving. The X5 M50i has an Adaptive M Suspension, while the X7 M50i goes with a two-axle air suspension that can be added as an option on the X5. The air suspension can be raised 1.6 inches over normal height, where needed. But it also lowers by 0.8 inches at speeds over 85 mph, or when switched to Sport Mode.
Visually, one of the easiest ways you’ll spot the two new M Performance models will be by checking out the larger air intakes on the front bumper, while their rocker panels and rear bumpers have also been modified.
Inside, there are distinctive sill plates with an illuminated M50i logo, an M leather steering wheel and gear shifter, as well as other features like perforated Vernasca leather with contrast stitching.
Both cars get the latest BMW Live Cockpit professional instrument cluster, a 12.3-inch reconfigurable display. There’s an equal-sized display for the infotainment system atop the center stack which can be operated by touch, gesture or voice, as well as the seventh-generation iDrive controller.
The 2020 BMW X5 M50i will start at $82,150, with X7 M50i starting at $99,600. Add to that another $995 for delivery fees.
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