X marks its spot

Jack-of-all-trades SUV-coupe is a prac­ti­cal per­former

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Bush & Beach - MAL­COLM FLYNN

STAND­ING on the brakes at more than 200km/h ap­proach­ing the tricky down­hill hair­pin at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas race­track in Texas, I ex­pect 2.3 tonnes of BMW to go por­pois­ing into the run-off area. Not so the X6 M, which mar­shals its mass, points where it’s steered and rock­ets out the other side.

M-purists may look at the “Sports Ac­tiv­ity Coupe” with cyn­i­cism but the coupe-styled SUV packs plenty of M-spe­cific tweaks to jus­tify the badge.

M de­sign boss Krzysztof Szews de­scribes the X6 M as “com­bin­ing the extrovert per­son­al­ity of X6 with out­stand­ing per­for­mance of a BMW M ve­hi­cle.”

Start­ing with a tweaked ver­sion of the pre­vi­ous twin­turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 and eight-speed auto, BMW boosts the out­puts by 15kW and 70Nm to a mon­strous 423kW/750Nm.

There are more ag­gres­sive bumpers front and rear, larger in­lets up front to help cool its 10 ra­di­a­tors and trade­mark quad ex­hausts pok­ing from the rear. The ex­am­ples we drove were shod with 21-inch al­loy wheels.

Sus­pen­sion and steer­ing rack en­hance­ments sharpen the X6 M’s dy­nam­ics.

It claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.2 sec­onds (shared with the com­ing X5 M, its me­chan­i­cal twin), a fig­ure bet­tered only by the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S — it claims 4.1 sec­onds in the world’s fastest SUV stakes.

On top of th­ese per­for­mance gains, M im­proves the com­bined fuel con­sump­tion, from 13.9L/100km to an im­pres­sive 11.1L on the Euro­pean cy­cle.

In our test ex­am­ples, the in­te­ri­ors are trimmed in a base­ball mitt tan leather, with car­bon fi­bre and alu­minium trim and con­trast­ing stitch­ing. ON THE ROAD Be­fore head­ing to the track, we take the X6 M on a lengthy route through the flat Texan coun­try­side. Cor­ner­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties are few and far be­tween but plenty of bro­ken bi­tu­men and stop-start traf­fic give a good idea of what it would be like to live in ev­ery­day driv­ing con­di­tions.

Even with the adap­tive dampers set to their most com­fort­able, there’s no hid­ing its M roots. The 21-inch­ers com­mu­ni­cate any sur­face ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and the huge rear rub­ber gen­er­ates sig­nif­i­cant road noise. It’s rarely harsh but you know you’re driv­ing an M at all times.

With peak torque on tap from 2200rpm-5000rpm, over­tak­ing is a cinch, and a pur­pose­ful ex­haust bark can be heard un­der heavy throt­tle. ON THE TRACK The X6 M gives the driver in­di­vid­ual con­trol over steer­ing, sus­pen­sion and throt­tle re­sponse. Your pre­ferred com­bi­na­tion can be stored within the M1 but­ton on the steer­ing wheel. An M2 but­ton un­leashes MDM mode — the most track-fo­cused com­bi­na­tion, which also extends the trac­tion and sta­bil­ity-con­trol en­ve­lope.

As we work our way from the soft­est set­tings through to MDM, the X6 M changes its han­dling per­son­al­ity from quick but safe han­dler through to — sur­pris­ingly — sharp and men­ac­ing. MDM also ex­ploits its in­fin­itely vari­able torque split to en­able eas­ily con­trolled over­steer with a prod of your right foot.

Steer­ing feel and sharp­ness are a sig­nif­i­cant step ahead of the regular X6.

For a rel­a­tively tall beast with plenty of sus­pen­sion travel, body roll is well con­tained. There is still plenty of pitch un­der heavy brak­ing. The brakes hold up well af­ter our hand­ful of hot laps.

Left in the de­fault modes, the X6 M is as id­iot-proof as you could hope for.

VER­DICT BMW’s jack-of-all-trades is back, with more per­for­mance, tech and ev­ery­day prac­ti­cal­ity, plus an even more re­ward­ing drive ex­pe­ri­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.