First Look – 2020 BMW X5 M50i and X7 M50i
High-Performance SUVs Could Presage Full-Blown M Models
BMW will offer higher-performance variants of its X5 and X7 SUVs for 2020. The BMW X5 M50i and X7 M50i will bridge the gap between the current "Sports Activity Vehicles" and an all-but-guaranteed future X5 M and X7 M.
The M50i shares a 4.4L twin-turbocharged V-8 with the X5 and X7 xDrive50i models, but the engine—codenamed N63—carries a higher state of tune in the M50i. Nestled in the valley of the V-8 engine, the twin-scroll turbos offer faster response and reduced lag, and the M50i also features variable valve (Valvetronic) and camshaft (VANOS) timing for greater flexibility and efficiency.
This top-spec N63 engine also boasts a new alloy for the aluminum block, which BMW says is stronger than the old material. A wire-arc iron coating for the cylinder walls reduces friction, and reinforced and Grafal-coated pistons and redesigned piston rings are better able to endure the stresses of the torquier engine.
The result is a peak 523 hp available between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm, as well as 553 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 to 4,600 rpm (up 67 hp and 74 lb-ft over the xDrive50i). Unleashing that power gives the X5 M50i a 0-60-mph time of 4.1 seconds, with the X7 doing the deed in 4.5 seconds. Both SUVs get limited to 130 mph with all-season tires or 150 mph with summer tires.
M Sport Driveline
The M50i's engine routes power through an eight-speed automatic transmission with BMW's Sport Steptronic technology. The transmission uses data from the navigation system and optional adaptive cruise control to predict gear changes in advance, which BMW calls shifting "proactively instead of reactively." There are also steering wheel shift paddles and a Launch Control function integrated into the system.
Like lesser variants, the X5 and X7 M50i come with BMW xDrive all-wheel drive standard. On the M50i, the system is equipped with an electronically controlled M Sport locking rear differential that improves traction and power delivery on rough or slippery roads. Like the standard xDrive system, the X5 and X7 M50i can send full power to the rear axle if there's enough traction, giving the SUVs a sportier feel from behind the wheel.
Holding up both of the sporty trucklets is a double wishbone front and five-link rear suspension, gone over by BMW M to provide improved dynamics. Nevertheless, BMW says the M50i still offers good traction in rough terrain and a smooth on-pavement ride. The X5 comes standard with an Adaptive M suspension with adjustable dampers, while the X7 offers a front and rear air suspension that lowers the SUV by 0.8 inch in Sport mode or at speeds above 85 mph. It can also raise the X7 by 1.6 inches if needed. The air suspension is optional on the X5 M50i.
M Sport brakes are standard on both M50i models, boasting two-piece brake rotors and M-signature blue paint on the calipers. The X5 comes standard with 20-inch wheels and all-season tires, with 21- and 22-inch packages with summer tires optional. The X7 gets standard 22s with summer tires, but a 21-inch/all-season package is available.
New front bumpers with larger openings headline the new SUVs, and the rocker panels and rear bumpers have been likewise redesigned to set the M50i apart from lesser BMW sport utes. Inside, the X5 and X7 get standard Vernasca perforated leather, bright-finished door sill plates with "M50i" illumination, an M leather steering wheel, and a gear selector with the M logo. The overall look is more exuberant and aggressive, but the changes are subtle; lesser X5s and X7s fitted with the M Sport package look similar.
Built at BMW Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina (which supplies the entire world with X7s and much of the Western Hemisphere with X5s), the M50i will hit dealers this fall. The X5 M50i will demand $83,145 including destination and handling, while the X7 M50i will break into six figures, at $100,595 with destination.
Don't expect the M50i to rest at the top of BMW's Sports Activity Vehicle lineup for long—we think a high-performance X5 M model is just around the corner, and an X7 M model could follow. Such a move would give Bimmer a competitor for such high-powered large SUVs as the Mercedes-AMG G63 and the Range Rover SVAutobiography.