3 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on BMW X6 M


What we liked

Near-sportscar handling

Adds menace to ‘soft’ category

Pushes M boundaries

Not so much

Positively guzzles 98RON

Pushes M boundaries

Overall rating: 4.0/5.0

Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 4.0/5.0

Price, Packaging and Practicality: 3.5/5.0

Safety: 4.0/5.0

Behind the wheel: 4.0/5.0

X-factor: 4.5/5.0

If you thought the Luxury SUV segment couldn’t be more indulgent, you’re wrong. Despite the seeming superfluity of leather-lined, high-riding mega wagons — some with capabilities of a mountain goat — available to buy, BMW for one thinks it can do better. That is, up the ante of ‘sport’ in a Sport Utility Vehicle, or Sport Activity Vehicle as BMW would prefer we call it.

Arguably Porsche did it first when it introduced the Cayenne, and the hottest Cayenne is the Turbo. The hottest X6 is turbocharged too, extending the potential of the likewise-blown X6 XDrive50i model.

BMW’s double-VANOS continuously variable valve timing and direct injection combined with its praiseworthy twin-turbo technology — in this case, called M TwinPower — delivers such rapid response that the 2.3 tonne X6 can run the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.7 seconds. That’s currently class-leading performance.

The M version is equipped with a tuned version of the 4.4-litre direct injection V8 used by the X6 XDrive50i. In its M makeover the engine features new pistons and a crossover intake manifold. The cylinder-heads are made of the same sterner stuff as the brand’s equivalent and sturdy diesel offering.

Both 4.4-litre petrol engines are turbocharged but the M version’s twin scroll turbo unit is new. Max boost is 17.4psi compared to around 10.2psi for the xDrive50i. Larger intercoolers have been fitted under the X6 M’s bonnet to suit.

The M division has also tweaked cam timing and other aspects of the powerplant.

The four-seat X6 and more conformist X5 are BMW’s first SUV models to receive the M-house treatment — and are also the first twin-turbo road-going V8 M models, arriving before the new M5.

Don’t expect ‘lesser’ X models to get the same treatment — at least not in the short term. When asked if the X3 would ever receive an M badge, spokesperson Toni Andreevski told the Carsales Network during the launch that customers in that price range would generally oppose a premium, instead opting for the usual X5.

According to BMW Australia, the company didn’t need to add M to move more X models: the models attracted M to them. Andreevski admitted local sales of the X6 had exceeded expectations and buyer behaviour indicated powered-up versions of the X5/X6 would be a welcome option among the segment. M versions of its popular SUV twins also give the brand something to contend with the aforementioned Porsche and the likes of Mercedes-Benz with its AMG-kitted ML.

The X6 M starts at $179,900 and its X5 ally is priced just under $173K. The X6 M’s price is near-$100K less than the Porsche ‘equivalent’ and even when the new Cayenne arrives, the X5/X6 offerings will likely remain the relative bargain.


Currently Merc’s ML63 AMG is cheapest of the options at around $170K, but its naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 is not as fast and drinks over 16L/100km. Newer is the 10MY Range Rover Sport which is similarly priced, though its luxury leanings overwhelm the sport factor.

So the BMW has it over rivals on price and performance, but the X6 is not as spacious or luxurious as say, the Range Rover. Standard comfort features include high-end materials for the interior upholstery (including headliner) and fixtures, park assist all ’round, xenon headlights, the brand’s Professional stereo system, (front) seat heating and four-zone climate control. The premium also adds the right dose of M-embellished trim.

At nearly 2m wide and 5m long, the X6 offers good cabin space for four, including ample legroom up front and for rear passengers. Despite the sharply sloping coupe-like roof arrangement, rear passenger headroom is not greatly affected.

In contrast to the the X6’s big-wagon utility, the driver is treated to a sporty cockpit that resembles the brand’s sedan offerings with multifunction steering wheel and paddle-shift, and attractive instrumentation.

This thoroughly road-going SUV was launched at Phillip Island’s racetrack, thus voiding irrelevant tests of utility and exposing the X6’s sports side. After an introductory lap led by Geoff Brabham we were left to our own racer-imaginings, albeit in one of BMW’s bulkiest offerings.

The two tonne-plus X6 M is ridiculously quick off the line and has a grumbly engine sound to match its mighty looks. Considering its size, the X6 M also handles well with good control in corners, sharp or winding. Body roll is at a minimum — in fact, we’ve driven smaller, lighter and lower-slung softroaders than this which have shown less control.

The X6 M also steers well, though after a few fastish laps we’ll admit to some tiredness at the end of the day. That’s not because the X6’s steering is heavy, rather that the laps peeled off quickly and the big sporty inspired quick corner exits. a long way from Sunday drive stuff.

The rear-biased all-wheel drive system (unique to the M variants of the X6/5) is noticeable on the track — chiefly as the big SAV is less prone to understeer than its bulk and mass would suggest. Even at relatively high levels of effort you’re able to hit your apexes and make the best use of the turbo V8’s bottomless torque.

Braking remained smooth, quiet and consistent throughout the day, particularly impressive given the X6’s weight and the launch program’s countless high-speed laps of the PI track — which features some great late-braking opportunities.

We really like the xDrive50 but for the relative bargain M-add we’d definitely throw in for the rangetopper. As they say in the classics: nothing exceeds like excess.

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Published. Thursday, 28 January 2010

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