First drive for BMW M550d xDrive

For BMW, this is a calendar-marking day. Before us sits the 2012 BMW M550d xDrive sedan, a car that officially launches the BMW M Performance Automobiles subbrand. If you haven't heard, it's a new lineup of vehicles that will slot between BMW's standard lineup and its M division performance cars. The M550d was built specifically to be the brand's lead-off hitter and it features a unique combination of a tri-turbo inline six-cylinder diesel, all-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission.

The M550d xDrive is a halfway house between the fastest of the standard BMW 5 Series models and the harder-hitting M5. It's not quite an M5, but BMW claims the M550d xDrive will sprint to 62 mph in just 4.7 seconds and use a mere 6.3 liters of fuel to go 100km on Europe's combined city/highway fuel cycle. There's no EPA equivalent for those numbers, but just assume they're way better than the M5 for now.