Inside, the changes are subtle but telling. White, stitched Hamann logos appear on the headrests and carpet mats, and the alloy pedal set is classic Hamann. But the most significant change is the matte-gray carbon trim, a new trend in the German tuning industry.

People have grown bored with shiny carbon trim, both to look at and to touch, as it is slippery when used on steering wheels. The new matte carbon looks and feels more homogenous next to perforated leather or Alcantara on a steering wheel.

On this car, the matte carbon is used on the area below the airbag on Hamann’s new flat-bottomed sports steering wheel. The thicker-than-standard, contoured rim uses perforated leather on its handgrip area and Alcantara elsewhere.

First impressions are of a car that is distinctly Hamann in both looks and stance. Driving just a few hundred meters however, flags the fact that the 21-inch wheels take the 550i’s normally calm ride and move it well into the firm side. On this score, I for one am quite happy to stick with the 20s, which look large enough anyway.

Although the engine has just 30 hp more on paper, the lower backpressure has improved throttle response and the twin-turbo V8 feels more lively at all speeds.

At higher speeds, two thirds of this extra power is probably being consumed by the drag from the larger tires, but on today’s crowded roads, throttle response and torque are more important, and the motor feels even keener to rev. This sharper feel is matched by a more pleasing, deeper exhaust note and a more distinct edge to the lovely V8 rumble when you accelerate hard.

This car may not have 580 hp yet, but even this first step shows that despite deviating from its core BMW tuning business, the company hasn’t lost its touch. I for one can’t wait to try their take on the new M5.

Hamann BMW 550i

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine
4.4-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, twin turbocharged. Hamann sport exhaust, metal catalysts and center silencer, remapped ECU

Transmission
Eight-speed automatic

Suspension
Sport lowering springs, OEM dampers

Wheels and Tires
Hamann Edition Race alloys,
9.5x21 (f), 11x21 (r)
Continental SportContact3,
255/30 (f), 295/25 (r)

Exterior
Front bumper spoiler, side skirts, rear bumper valance insert, rear rooftop spoiler, trunk spoiler

Interior
Hamann sport steering wheel, alloy pedals, matte-gray carbon trim

Performance
Peak Power: 437 hp

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