Power to burn, for those with money to burn
It was a beautiful car, splendid in almost every way. It came with two keys. One prepped the automobile’s driving condition — that is, ignited the engine, warmed or cooled the interior, ensured seat comfort, practically did everything. The other key unlocked the doors and ignited the engine in the manner of most computer/power keys used to operate modern cars: simple, to the point.
Why two keys? I suspect it was to materially demonstrate where BMW and much of the rest of the global automobile industry are going with autonomous — driverless — cars in a world that isn’t quite ready to go there in terms of mass-market application.
I left the first key — the Do Everything Fob — in the “car basket” at home. The second key, the “operations key,” was all I needed to go where I was going.
I am a fan and supporter of autonomous driving, which is coming, like it or not. Ironically, although I understand its need, I am not ready for autonomous motoring . . . yet.
The sample car in question was the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive. I think of it as a 2017 BMW 540i xDrive loaded with the very latest BMW M-class options, nearly $30,000 worth.
It clearly, especially at this economic moment, is a car for the few. With once-optional equipment now included as standard items, it will cost you $81,255. Add an estimated factory-todealer shipment charge of $900, and you are looking at $82,155.
Yes, there are people worldwide who want and can afford that kind of automotive luxury. But they are very few, especially in the U.S. economy, where automotive analysts say it is difficult for most Americans to swing an average new car price of $34,800.
What are car companies, politicians and other corporations doing, besides marketing and promising, to keep car buyers buying? I humbly offer suggestions: They can raise salaries and/or lower the cost of goods and services. They have to do something!
Until then, I’ll enjoy the motoring frustrations and happiness of the privileged few. Frustrations?
Yes. They have to suffer traffic jams and obey rules on Interstate 66 as surely as the rest of us. Try explaining to a law enforcement officer that your M550i is a hint at the “car of the future.”
The officer happily will give you a current citation, with court appearance date certain. The likelihood is that you will be in that courtroom with someone ticketed while trying to get to work in a Toyota Corolla.
Ah, but the beauty and glory of it all: supple leather seats, ergonomic excellence largely under the control of hand gestures, advanced electronic safety, mostly provided as standard equipment; and power enough to boost your fantasy that you’ve bought something special. You have! You’ll pay for it. You bought a machine with a 4.4liter, direct-injection gasoline engine (456 horsepower, 480 pound-feet of torque). Whoosh! Don’t expect fuel economy. Combined mileage, city/ highway, is 19 miles per gallon, using required premium grade. But there are so many other goodies with this one, including a tilt/telescoping leather steering wheel and four one-touch power windows.
You get what you pay for here. Enjoy.
It clearly, especially at this economic moment, is a car for the few.