Torque about changing times – BMW’s fabled M series, the be-all, end-all of all things fast and fine-handling, has a new subset running purely on sticky fuel. Oh yes, you read that right – diesel! Could somebody please help the fainting Beemer purists at the front? But before you scream ‘sacrilege!’, listen up. Historically it’s been the ‘slower fuel’ that usually powers the slow, unglamorous, chugging backend of our transportation system but now, it actually is more potent than ever, thanks to cutting-edge technology from the country which introduced diesel power to the world.
This new subset – comprised of the M550D, X5 M50d and the X6 M50d – is a paradigm shift in the hallowed M-series, a shift like never before. The centre of the discussion (or debate?) is the new 3.0-litre flat six diesel with no less than three turbos providing ample shove to all three vehicles. The two smaller turbos spool up rather quickly, giving it the typically sharp M-series response while the big fat one really start spooling once the revs are up, unleashing a mountain of power. Try 75.5 kgm of torque between 2000-3000 RPM and 381 bhp, translating into an impressive 0-100 kph time of 4.4 seconds for the M550D, just 0.3 off the new M5! That’s quick! Top speed is limited to 250 kph and we’re sure there’s a whole lot of speed beyond the limiter. And since we’re talking brutal diesels here – the roll-on figures would eat the competition for breakfast. Not to be outdone, the X5 and the X6 hammer out 5.2 sec runs to 100 kph.
These M Performance cars are not to be confused with the proper M series; the latter will always be more brutal and focused. That said, you do get M-tuned suspension, damping, steering and all-wheel drive. But wait till you hear this – your flashy new M5 will probably do 7 kpl if you somehow (magically) manage to not drive like a loony with a heavy foot whereas the M550D will run 19 kms to the litre on an average. Suddenly, queuing up behind trucks to fill up seems like a small compromise you can live with.