as in em­phatic

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

an­other new seg­ment. For more than 10 years we have been looking at anM model in the sports ac­tiv­ity seg­ment.’’

He has plenty of SUV ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause he was the fa­ther of the cur­rent X5, but his M ex­pe­ri­ence runs back to the days when he helped de­velop 3 Se­ries rac­ers for the World Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship.

Bier­mann says the key to the M-Xers is the en­gine, which takes a new path by tuck­ing the twin tur­bocharg­ers on top of the en­gine be­tween the cylin­der heads. It makes the whole pack­age ex­tremely com­pact and al­most elim­i­nates turbo lag.

The rest of the pack­age runs to an M-tweaked six-speed au­to­matic with launch con­trol, ac­tive all-wheel drive with M-spe­cific set­tings, M-tweaked sus­pen­sion that sits 10mm lower, 20-inch al­loy wheels, big­ger brakes and more.

In­side, there is M leather lux­ury in sports seats and wheel and gearshift, a heads-up dis­play, six airbags and ser­votronic steer­ing. and that makes a dif­fer­ence. It’s prob­a­bly enough of a dif­fer­ence for the sort of peo­ple who want to stand out from the crowd.

My first im­pres­sion of the X6 M is sub­dued. It’s not as ob­vi­ously M as I had ex­pected — some peo­ple say the move into SUVs means M now stands for mar­ket­ing, not motorsport— even when I fire the V8.

On the road the X6 M is more taut than any other SUV I’ve driven, apart from the AMG ML, with sharp steer­ing re­sponse and zero rock and roll. That’s good, though the ser­votronic steer­ing is still a bit vague and mov­ing to the M set­tings only makes it over-firm.

Thumb theMbut­ton on the steer­ing wheel and you un­cork a ter­rific V8, as well as trans­mis­sion set­tings that fire it through the gears.

There is also a sat­is­fy­ing whoosh of over­boost when you go up a gear, and a re­fined roar from be­low the bon­net — though al­most no trace of V8 rum­ble from the rear. The X6 M is re­fined and com­posed on the one-hour ride to Road At­lanta race­way.

‘‘We don’t want to com­pare too much with the Cayenne, be­cause this car is at an­other level,’’ Bier­mann says be­fore I head to the track, but the Porsche SUV is the bench­mark.

Or it was. Be­cause the X6 M is in­cred­i­ble for a two-tonne SUV. It sits flat through cor­ners, puts its power to the ground in­cred­i­bly well, and thumps up to 230km/h on the long back straight.

I’m not a fan of the X6, ei­ther the way it looks or the way it works, but the way the M model goes is fan­tas­tic. It eas­ily trumps an ML AMG and, from my ex­pe­ri­ence, is more nim­ble and punchy than a Cayenne. OK, so it doesn’t have their space, but the X5M — which was not avail­able for driv­ing — is the an­swer to that ques­tion.

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