Canada's First 2018 BMW M550ix - Maranello BMW
Ah...Life. How ironic and humourous you can be. I had just come to the end of my 2014 E63S AMG lease and was certain, CERTAIN, I would jump into another Mercedes Benz - specifically the new E Class - at least the E43, and maybe even the new E63S if it would be released by the time my lease ended (it didn't).
I literally went to three manufacturers at the Canadian (Toronto) Autoshow; Audi, Mercedes and BMW (in that order). I had the somewhat unique issue of having a downtown garage that wasn't too long - so I could only fit about 197.5 inches in length before I would risk hitting it with the garage door. The Audi's were all 197+ so they were out - but I had to see what I wouldn't be getting, and I knew they were both quick and sleek (plus my Wife loved them). Sigh.
With some disappointment I made my way to my eventual choice - Mercedes Benz - or so I thought. I started with the new C Class, which I liked, but just like my first encounter with Mercedes, I found the C Class cars too short and (somewhat) crowded. I was older now and it just wasn't practical for family and I liked my space having been in the E63S before this. So, without too much worry I made my way over the E Class successor and...was underwhelmed. The interior that simply looked CRAZY amazing in pictures, just wasn't doing it for me in real life. It was nice, don't get me wrong, but the part I thought was coolest in the pics, the curved dash, made me feel oddly like being on board Enterprise-D from the Next Generation. It just didn't work for me. The E63S was not going to be out in time for my lease ending and I felt they underpowered the E43 (and still do).
Somewhat stunned I made my way over to BMW. You know, the manufacturer I was totally into before, but had never owned personally (my Father has a 1990 325i Vert) - and whom I, and most car reviewers believed, totally, messed up their brand while Mercedes surged.
There was a new G30 540ix on display. The hosting dealership at the Autoshow was Maranello BMW. "Maranello", I thought, I know Rohan who just became their Service Manager - he's a stand up guy and friend to boot. Let's give them a chance.
After giving them the above introduction, they let me into the 540i (which was locked) and I was blown away by the interior (and especially seats) which had an (ironically) S-class stitching to them. It was older school - similar to my E63S interior - and maybe I just liked what I had, but it just...fit...I loved the all digital dash and LED interior lighting (which being fair MB had as well on the E class, but somewhat too overstated for my liking). The car was large, but not as heavy as my outgoing E63S. Plus as much as many dismiss some of the new tech as "gadgety" - I found it both cool and useful using the gesture control to turn up or down the volume for example. The remote control that can back up your car - from the outside - is a party trick, I admit it. But a cool one.
Now, at this time, the M550ix was just getting announced - and I liked what I saw and the power output figures were still being guessed by every news outlet. That additional estimated poke, about 465 to 400, with about 65 HP and 85 lb feet of torque more than the E43 made me think I may have found my car (the HP numbers were slightly officially reduced to 456 and 480 respectively). I didn't know about the length, but the estimates were 195ish inches (which was bang on) - for what I needed.
Picking the blue, thanks to some good advice, was the best choice I have made on cars in some time lol. I have always been conservative on colour. Silver, usually gun metal. The blue offered (Mediterranean Blue) - was even more stunning in real life. Keeping conservative with the black interior (and practical with kids), it made a nice combo. I still love the interior having owned the car for almost a year. That is something I can't normally say about any car I've owned. I simply feel special in that car. Every time. Plus my Wife gets massage seats on her side as well. So it’s win-win.
And...here it is...the drive.
Rohan promised me that the drive was what was going to separate the Mercedes from the BMW. After some of the other, earlier BMW's I drove, I wasn't convinced. But he was right. The car just drove...better. It was more lively. More alert. More athletic and agile. I simply enjoyed driving it more on a daily basis than the AMG. Which I really enjoyed driving. That was a pleasant surprise.
Now performance, I knew, was not going to be E63S level. Or so I thought. After break-in, I was sure this car was at least as quick as my E63S to 60 MPH (although it was likely not). That said the performance was THERE. And with a total and complete luxury experience, for me - where I was in my life - that was simply...PERFECT. I enjoyed and continue to enjoy just driving this car every day. The performance was enough to run 12.1's at 117 MPH at the track - which is pretty stout for a non M car. I also recently discovered from a fellow M550ix owner that I did not disable DSC (dynamic stability control) - which will likely knock off at least a tenth (likely two) and add 1-2 MPH as well. SO I have a feeling a high 11 at 118+ MPH is in this cars future - which is actually quite near my E63S performance that I was used to. It certainly doesn't hurt that launch control is GTR-easy when compared to the E63S "Racestart" ridiculousness.
And it was about 30K cheaper than an M or AMG.
I have more testing and driving to do, but the 2018 M550ix has become my best, all round car that I have ever owned. That said - the new M5 is now out - and my Dealer has already shared with me that I am able to acquire one should I want it. It would have to be other-worldly for me to make a change however - especially with the price difference. I really, really, like the M550ix.
But...being a newly minted auto-journalist - and a professional (dammit) - I will at least need to give the new M5 a thorough test to find out.