SUVs

BMW is blessing the X5 and X7 with new M Performance models

The X5 and X7 M50i are big, fast and practical and are likely going to be the models to get out of those on offer.

The new M50i models of the X5 and X7 get more power, bigger wheels and some subtly more aggressive looks.

BMW

BMW is going down the M Performance rabbit hole again, this time with a pair of SUV models. It's taking the X5 and X7, slathering them in extra horsepower and calling the resulting trim level M50i.

BMW announced the M50i variants on Wednesday, but somewhat atypically, they gave us a heaping helping of information to go along with the announcement. The X5 and X7 M50i will both make 523 horsepower and 553 foot-pounds of torque thanks to their M-division-fettled N63 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. That's not full-fat M model power, but it's not far off.

The smaller and lighter X5 M50i will use all of its newfound grunt to propel itself to 60 miles per hour in just 4.1 seconds, while BMW's large adult son X7 will do it in 4.5 seconds. Not bad for such hefty people haulers.

Those times are helped by a well-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission -- basically the same unit you'll find in just about every modern BMW -- but this one has a neat trick. The M50i's transmission can use data from the vehicle's navigation system and adaptive cruise control's radar to shift itself proactively, ensuring you're always in the right gear. The transmission also facilitates launch control.

The suspension is more or less standard X5 and X7 stuff that's been tuned by M for a sportier ride. This means that M has been at the bushings and shocks and sway bars, optimizing for the M50i's higher power.

The X5 model comes with BMW's Adaptive M suspension but can be ordered with a double axle air suspension system which is standard on the X7 M50i. The air suspension is especially cool because it's speed sensitive and will drop the vehicle by 0.8-inches at speeds over 85 miles per hour.

Both models come with big steel brakes with two-piece rotors and handsome blue M-branded calipers. It's unclear whether BMW will offer these models with carbon ceramics, though we'd imagine that a vehicle as big as the X7 would benefit from them during aggressive driving.

The rest of the M50i's kit is mostly standard X5 and X7 stuff, which is to say that it's pretty nice and works really well. Pricing for the models starts at $82,150 for the X5 M50i and $99,600 for the X7 M50i. BMW will start production of these new M Performance models in August of this year at its Spartanburg, South Carolina facility.