The BMW M badge was originally reserved for the automaker’s most hardcore performance cars, but lately, BMW has been less discerning. In addition to applying the M badge to SUVs, BMW launched an M Performance line of cars that are sportier than its regular models, but not up to the standards of full-on M vehicles. The latest models to get the M Performance treatment are the X5 and X7 SUVs. We can already hear the howls of purists.
The 2020 BMW X5 M50i and X7 M50i use the same engine, itself an upgrade of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 already used in both SUVs. The M Performance version of the engine produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, increases of 67 hp and 74 lb-ft over the standard X5 and X7. That will get the X5 M50i from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, according to BMW, while the larger X7 M50i takes 4.5 seconds. Top speed for both vehicles is electronically limited to 130 mph with all-season tires or 155 mph with summer performance tires.
The twin-turbo V8 is teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. BMW claims the all-wheel drive system can send all power to the rear wheels when extra traction isn’t needed, and the M Sport rear differential can actively shunt power side to side at the rear axle as needed. Both M50i models also feature adaptive air suspension that can lower the ride height by 0.8 inches in sport mode at speeds above 85 mph, or raise it by 1.6 inches when more ground clearance is needed. The X7 gets standard air springs, but they’re an extra-cost option on the X5.
The X5 and X7 M50i also get subtle exterior styling changes. The front bumpers have larger openings to let in more cooling air, and the rocker panels and rear bumpers have been reshaped as well, according to BMW. The X5 M50i comes standard with 20-inch wheels, while the X7 M50i gets 22-inch wheels as standard equipment.
If you wanted a fast X5, it’s worth noting that BMW will likely launch an X5 M soon. Also powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, the previous-generation X5 M made more power than the M50i (567 hp), but with an identical torque output, and was only 0.1 seconds quicker from zero to 60 mph. Expect the new X5 M to put much more distance between itself and the X5 M50i.
The X7 M50i, on the other hand, will likely be the fastest version of the X7 you can buy. BMW considers the X7 to be the SUV equivalent of its 7 Series sedan, and it has never made an M version of that car. The same status quo will likely apply to the X7, even if it means being outgunned by a potential new hot AMG version of the rival Mercedes-Benz GLS.
The 2020 BMW X5 M50i and X7 M50i will start at $83,145 and $100,595, respectively (both prices include a mandatory $995 destination charge). Production of both SUVs begins this summer at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, factory.