News - BMW
BMW Aus rules out spicy 5 Series
Left out: Left-hand-drive-only production means the sporty all-paw M550i xDrive is not coming to Australia.
Missing BMW 5 Series models forfeit competing with A6 and E-Class
3 March 2017
BMW Australia has been forced to abandon its hope of offering a 5 Series
performance variant to rival the Audi S6 and Mercedes-AMG E43, following a
global decision to build the potent M550i xDrive in left-hand-drive only.
Although its rear-wheel-drive successor arrived in Australia as the 550i, the
model grade was overhauled for the G30 generation as an M Performance model,
joining the M140i, M240i, X5 M50d and X6 M50d that also continued to be offered
With 340kW/650Nm from its 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, the M550i
xDrive delivers a 4.0-second 0-100km/h sprint time that wipes three-tenths from
the outgoing 412kW/680Nm M5 Pure.
The eight-speed auto-equipped model would have been the first all-wheel drive 5
Series to be offered locally, and primed to challenge the $170,716 S6 (with
331kW/550Nm) and $159,900 E43 AMG (295kW/520Nm).
When the M550i xDrive was revealed in October last year, BMW Australia general
manager of communications Lenore Fletcher confirmed interest in the model grade
for the local market.
“We are a performance market and we would love to see that vehicle in
Australia, the engine, the configuration, the all-wheel drive, I think it looks
sensational,” she said at the time.
However, speaking at the national media launch of the new 5 Series in Adelaide,
South Australia, this week, BMW Australia head of product planning Shawn
Ticehurst confirmed that the model grade was no longer available to our market.
“It’s only left-hand drive,” he revealed.
“But we’ll keep looking at that stuff, obviously we have it coming up now in
the M760Li xDrive and we know it will come up in the future on other cars so we’
ll start to look at it a bit more, but it has to make sense because we’re not a
country with snow.
“It has to offer a performance benefit to really make sense, but we will start
to look at it for some top-end models. I would anticipate seeing some coming in
the coming years, but not in the near future.”
It leaves the 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12-engined M760Li as the first
all-wheel-drive sedan to make it to our shores, the 448kW/800Nm flagship of
which claims a 3.7-second 0-100km/h and wears a $419,900 sticker to match.
While BMW has confirmed the next M5 will utilise an all-wheel-drive system, it
will leave a chasm in the new 5 Series range until its expected 2018 release.
Mr Ticehurst said that while the $136,900 540i range topper could challenge the
GS F and E43, he conceded that it was not an M Performance model and was more
closely aligned to the luxury-oriented Mercedes-Benz E400.
“I guess the logical rival to Mercedes-Benz would be the E400 but I think our
car offers a performance benefit and a level of luxury as well that would
appeal to those higher end (GS F, S6) cars,” he said.
“I think if you look at the spec in our car, it’s phenomenally strong, we’ve
put a real focus on making the 540i such a well-equipped car.”
BMW will next challenge Mercedes-Benz in the niche plug-in hybrid electric
vehicle segment (PHEV) when the 530e arrives mid-year as the first expansion of
the all-new 5 Series range, followed by the Touring in the fourth quarter.
While Audi and Benz have ditched plans to offer a wagon version of the A6 and
E-Class locally beyond the offroad-oriented Allroad and All Terrain versions,
Mr Ticehurst said the 5 Series Touring garnered a small but loyal fanbase and
was warranted in the range.
However, he ruled out offering a high-riding, all-wheel-drive-equipped 5 Series
to challenge those competitors.
“We don’t have any product available at the moment,” he said.
“The focus is on things like X5 and X6 and they’re doing really well for us. In
the short term I don’t see that coming, we’ll have our traditional 5 Series
Touring and then X5 for other people.”