BMW X6 M & X5 M
BMW’S Motorsport division – known by its iconic blueand-red “M” badge – has once again worked its magic on the X5 and X6 crossover vehicles. The original versions were ground-breaking at launch in 2009: the first fully certified M-cars with all-wheel drive, the first to be available exclusively with automatic transmissions and, of course, the first crossover-style M-models. The same themes have been continued with the justlaunched second-generation versions, but both are now even more extreme. Key to any M-car is a high-performance engine. Both X5 M and X6 M share a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that has the same capacity as the outgoing model, but is essentially a brand-new powerplant. Power and torque are up to 423kw/750nm, making the V8 the most powerful engine ever fitted to a BMW production vehicle. Both models rocket to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and have a top speed limited to 250km/h. Yet the engine combines high-rev capability with linear response: peak torque is available all the way from 2,200-5,000rpm, making for relaxed driving when desired. Every model from BMW M has to be deemed “fit for the Nordschleife” – a reference to the legendary Nurburgring circuit in Germany, where so many makers’ high-performance models are developed. The X5/X6 M have bespoke systems for oil supply and cooling that ensure the powertrain operates at peak performance even under extreme acceleration and cornering. The xdrive four-wheel drive system has been tuned for greater agility. It distributes 70 per cent of power to the rear under normal driving conditions, but can apportion 100 per cent of torque to either axle when necessary. The suspension has been thoroughly redeveloped to handle the high-performance capability. The architecture has been redesigned, the tuning is firmer and the vehicles ride 10mm lower than standard. Dynamic Drive, which actively limits body roll in corners, and self-levelling air suspension are standard. The X5/X6 M also have Dynamic Performance Control, a torque vectoring system that can automatically brake the inside-rear wheel as the car enters a corner and then apply extra power to the outside for the exit, improving stability and speed through difficult turns. Drivers can choose individual settings for the steering, powertrain and suspension, along with levels of aggression for the gear changes. Favourite combinations can be saved for one-touch access on the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel. The X5 M and X6 M ride on 21-inch wheels with bespoke Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres in mixed sizes: 285/35 at the front and massive 325/30 rubber at the rear.