BMW's M Division may have started out with a raspy, fighty little petrol 3 Series, but today it stands for something more. Much more. Say hello to the birth of the 3.0-litre triple-turbo straight six diesel M car.
BMW recently revealed its intention to create a new range of M-tuned cars that would sit between the standard range and the ‘proper' M cars, and today we find out that on launch, the brand will offer a four-wheel-drive BMW M550d and M550d Touring, a BMW X5 M50d and a BMW X6 M50d.
They might have been borne in the fires of the original M535i way back in the eighties, but today's star is a different kind of six. That new 3.0-litre diesel packs three turbochargers: two small ones and a larger turbo. The lower inertia of the smaller turbos is used to deliver "razor-sharp responses" according to BMW, while the larger one is tuned for maximum pressure when you really feel like opening the taps.
As a result, it produces 381bhp and 546lb ft of torque. In the M550d XDrive, that equates to a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds (the new M5 does it in 4.4), a top speed of 155mph, a combined mpg of 44.8mpg and emissions of just 165g/km. Naturally the SUVs emit more (199/204 g/km for the X5 and X6), but acceleration is only blunted by up to half a second. Whichever way you look at it, it's fast.
BMW UK has confirmed we'll only get this triple turbo engine in the X5 and X6 - meaning no M550d for us - but all will feature an eight-speed sports auto and M-specific tuning of the suspension, bodyshell mounting, engine and transmission mounting, springs, dampers, chassis control systems and mapping for the hydraulic steering. As close to a full-blooded M car as you can get without widening the track and flaring the arches...
As expected, you get M design cues, a range of 19in and 20in wheel options, lots of leather, aluminium and Alcantara for the interior and a dizzying array of driver assistance systems.
So there you have it: BMW's first ever diesel-powered M car. Do you embrace this new direction with a whoop and a high-five, or does the thought of the M Division making an oil burner turn your stomach?