2024 BMW 550e review: Two-tonne fun sponge

BMW 550e saloon has SUV heft leaving it light in excitement

BMW 550e

Sometimes a car comes along that makes you feel all warm inside, even before you drive it. I’ve always loved the punchy BMW saloons short of the M cars, and six months recently spent in the latest M340i Touring did nothing to harm that view. They have gutsy motors and keen handling, but are not only more affordable but far quieter and more comfortable than their vaunted M stablemates.

And it’s exactly the way I felt about the new 550e, right up to the moment I drove it. Some things it does predictably well, the ride and refinement requirements mentioned above satisfied in full. The interior is not BMW’s best and the touchscreen infotainment is about averagely irritating but that could all be forgiven. What’s harder to swallow is that it’s just not very good to drive.

Partly this is a problem of perception. I see a BMW with a 550 badge on the back and subliminally I’m thinking there’s a mighty V8 under the bonnet, not a hybrid-assisted straight six. But actually the engine is good enough and the electric-only range of around 50 miles really impressive. If only the battery required to make it so did not result in such a vastly heavy car. Its weight has ballooned to an almost unbelievable 2155kg – an Aston Martin DBX SUV is less than 100kg heavier – blunting its handling and spoiling your enjoyment. It’s perfect on a decent road, just not much fun. Which, for a car like this, is simply not good enough. AF

BMW 550e

  • Price £76,605
  • Engine 3 litres, six cylinders, petrol, hybrid drive
  • Power 483bhp at 5000rpm
  • Torque 516lb ft
  • Weight 2155kg (DIN)
  • Transmission Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-60mph 4.3sec
  • Top speed 155mph
  • Economy 282.5mpg (WLTP)
  • CO2 19g/km (WLTP)
  • Verdict Battery weight deadens drive .