X marks its spot
Jack-of-all-trades SUV-coupe is a practical performer
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.