Say hello to my little friend – the bombastic BMW 550i. Sitting rather pretty at the top of the 5-series tree – until the new M5 arrives in December to steal its thunder – the Bavarian bruiser is a rather nice bit of kit. And thanks to the lovely people at BMW Middle East, we’re going to be holding onto it for a while.
The uber-sexy 20-inch alloy wheels have the arduous job of controlling the 407bhp provided by the twin-blown 4.4-litre V8 sitting under the bonnet. As you would imagine, that kinda power in an executive saloon makes for a spirited driving experience. The 550i certainly isn’t adverse to wagging its tail through the twisty bits.
Doing a sterling job of sending that power to the rear is the latest iteration of the ZF super-smooth and super-swift automatic gearbox. At first impression, the eight gears on offer might be a little overkill, but you soon get into the groove and find them perfectly matched to the engine’s character.
There’s some stubby paddles behind the wheel – up on the right, down on the left – which give a bit of manual control over the ratios. Alternatively, you can bang through the gears using the stubby shifter in the proper manner – ie pull back to go up and push forward to go down. It might sound trivial, but you’ll be surprised at how many manufacturers run it the other way around.
It’s fair to say we’ve been rather smitten by the 550i in the office. The spec is nigh-on perfect with the crisp white exterior, the mocha brown interior and those gorgeous alloys. Away from all the mechanical bits and bobs mentioned above, there’s a veritable truck load of electronic gizmos and equipment. BMW has thrown its full toy box at the car, so we’re digging our way through the manual to get our head around it all over the coming weeks. Stay tuned.