Big, burly and so fast

BMW’s M divi­sion has seen fit to drop its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 into some SUVs. Nile Bi­joux checks them out.

The Timaru Herald - - Motoring -

The X5 M and X6 M are the big­gest, beefi­est ve­hi­cles BMW’s M divi­sion has to of­fer. New Zealand is only tak­ing the full-fat Com­pe­ti­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the pair and we took them for a spin.

Make me an in­stant ex­pert: what do I need to know?

This is what hap­pens when M de­cides it has had enough of Audi and Mercedes-AMG hog­ging the Ger­man su­per-SUV spotlight for the past five min­utes. The X5 M and X6 M are now in their third gen­er­a­tion, and they’ve been duk­ing it out with the RS Q8 and GLE 63 S for the past 11 or so years.

So which is the best BMW M-car again?

They rep­re­sent the cream of the crop in their re­spec­tive X-zones. The 5 is the nor­mal boxy SUV shape and the 6 is the slop­ier ‘‘coupe-SUV’’, as it’s called.

Adding the M suf­fix means these fam­ily movers have had the kitchen sink thrown at them to make them as fast as pos­si­ble.

Where did you drive it?

Our drive started in Auck­land’s morn­ing traf­fic be­fore ven­tur­ing east to­wards the windy roads of Marae­tai and Cleve­don. Here, we were able to sam­ple what these sorts of ve­hi­cles will be do­ing most of their lives – go­ing a bit too fast on roads a bit too bumpy.

Play­ing with the ad­justable set­tings (you can change things like the en­gine and gearbox char­ac­ter­is­tics, sus­pen­sion stiff­ness and trac­tion con­trol within the iDrive sys­tem) quickly re­vealed that Sport Plus sus­pen­sion is far too stiff for public roads around Auck­land.

Di­alling it back to Sport means the shocks have enough give to ab­sorb the harsh­est bumps, in­stead of bounc­ing oc­cu­pants around the cabin.

Push­ing the pow­er­train set­tings to their pointi­est means feath­er­ing the throt­tle can be jerky but that’s sort of the point. This is, at heart, a re­ally heavy track car. And no, chances are it won’t ever ac­tu­ally see a race­track.

But it does mean that, should you want to, there’s a but­ton that ratch­ets every­thing up to the max and makes you feel like a rac­ing driver, dis­com­fort and all.

Good thing too, be­cause the east Auck­land run led us right to the doorstep of Hamp­ton Downs, where we set about do­ing some ‘‘ac­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing demon­stra­tions’’ over a dis­tance of about 200 me­tres.

Turns out, a 4.4-litre twin­turbo V8 is quite a pow­er­ful donk, even in a 2.3-tonne SUV.

The X6 M is slightly lighter, tip­ping the scales at a claimed 2295kg, com­pared to the 2310kg X5 M, and as a re­sult passed the speed trap at 138kmh, com­pared to 136kmh.

The scari­est part of these cars isn’t the ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion. It’s the fact that they just keep pulling, no mat­ter what the revs are or which gear you’re in. Thank­fully, the brakes are very good and brought every­thing back to a stop in just over 50 me­tres from 130kmh-plus.

A few hot laps later to con­firm that these are still hefty ve­hi­cles and don’t take too kindly to stomp­ing the loud pedal be­fore the wheel is straight­ened and it was back on the high­way to Auck­land.

Dial every­thing back down and the re­sult is a comfy, lux­u­ri­ous SUV, though the sus­pen­sion is still quite hard and the low-pro­file tyres gen­er­ate some road roar.

What’s the pick of the range?

In my opin­ion, the X5 M. Yes, the Sixxer is lighter and there­fore a smidgen faster, but the SUV­coupe styling just doesn’t gel with me. You also get quite a bit more boot space in the 5 – 650 litres com­pared to 580 litres (ex­pand­able to 1870L and 1530L re­spec­tively), the slop­ing roof hurt­ing the X6’s stor­age. How­ever, the swoopy X6 M will still have its buy­ers.

Why would I buy it?

You want a $220k five-seat SUV that can also (sort of) han­dle the track.

Why wouldn’t I buy it?

You can get bet­ter track-ori­ented cars for less, like the forth­com­ing M3 and M4 re­freshes or the older M2, and bet­ter SUVs for less. Chances are, if you’re spend­ing this sort of money, you prob­a­bly al­ready have mul­ti­ple cars. Why not have a comfy X5 30d as the daily and a hard­core M2 for those sunny Sun­days?

The V8 brawlers known as the X5 M and X6 M.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.