TEST DRIVE: 2021 BMW M550i xDrive — Its Own Unique Flavor

4 weeks ago
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Outside of those few exterior changes, it’s mostly the same as the pre-facelift 5er and that’s a good thing. With BMWs seemingly getting more and more garish with each new generation, the subtle, sophisticated look of the BMW M550i is a breath of fresh air.

However, not every change is an improvement and that’s evident inside the 5er. While it’s always welcome to get new tech, such as BMW’s latest iDrive system, the new digital gauges — which BMW calls “Live Cockpit Professional” — is a downgrade over the pre-facelift gauges. The old gauges were analog-ish, with physical trim pieces surrounding digital dials and the digital screens mimicked the look of analog gauges and they looked far better then the new all-digital setup.

Sure, the new Live Cockpit Professional has more functionality and can display more information but, in reality, it’s not that much more and the little bit of extra info isn’t worth the messy looking gauges. While I liked Live Cockpit Professional when it first debuted, as it looked cool and was different from anything BMW had ever done before, its look has grown tired very quickly and it seriously lacks functionality compared to its rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. So if it’s not going to be as good as its competitors, BMW might as well have stuck with great looking analog gauges.

Also, BMW’s virtual assistant, which automatically wakes up after hearing you say “Hey, BMW” is infuriating. BMW’s Siri is not only hyperactive, waking up even if you just say “BMW”, but it’s also slow to respond to any actual commands and seemed to never quite understand what I was saying. While I was shooting my video review, it awoke mistakenly several times because I just said the word “BMW” — which was so much more frequent than you might think — and then when I would say “cancel” it would tell me it couldn’t find the address in “Cranford” I was asking for…

Of course, you can change settings for the virtual assistant, having it awake with a different command or have it turn off altogether. But it’s a half-baked technology that pales in comparison to its rivals’ systems.

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