Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It weighs more than two-and-a-half tons, goes from a standstill to 60 mph in the mid-fours and is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

BMW calls its X6 a Sports Activity Coupe (SAC), not a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) or Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). It has four, five if you’re counting the rear hatch, doors, all-wheel-drive and weighs 5,200 pounds. And it stands tall on 20-inch wheels. Coupe? I don’t think so!

The X6 comes in a wide range of models and is the most aggressively styled of BMW’s do-everything vehicles. In M trim, the X6 takes it up a notch and becomes the Crossover From Hell. However, a beauty contest it will never win.

You may not like the X6 M’s quirky, bulked-up “in your face” styling that could never pass a steroid test or that it weighs more than 5,200 pounds and accommodates just four people and 25.6 cubic feet of “stuff.” To be fair you could drop off two of those people, fold down the rear seats and more than double stowage capacity. Then there’s the issue of (premium) fuel consumption. The EPA rates the X6 M at 12-mpg city and 17-mpg highway, but if you depress the “M for magic” button on its fat, sporty steering wheel, your mileage will definitely differ. I barely averaged 12 mpg but didn’t mind it a bit.

When it comes to performance, there really is no free lunch. If you want to play, you gotta pay. And whenever I get the opportunity to drive a vehicle that can go to 60 mph like an M3 or a Corvette and cover the quarter-mile in the 12s, I just can’t help myself.

After embarrassing serious performance cars at traffic lights around town and then taking it on the open road looking for unsuspecting hotshoes, I came away with a newfound respect for BMW engineers. The X6 M is crazy quick and fast, handles like a smaller, lighter sports machine and outperforms competitors from Mercedes-Benz (G55 AMG, ML63 AMG) and Porsche (Cayenne Turbo). Our Space Gray test car was also crazy expensive: $95,025!

The X6 M may not haul a lot of stuff, but it unquestionably hauls ass! In the hands of a talented drive, present company excepted and with the M-button activated, it will put the hurt on an M3 or possibly a C6 Corvette (not Z06 or ZR1).

Our friends at Car&Driver track tested one and certainly came away impressed with its performance. According to C&D’s John Phillips, “The X6 M went to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat at 106 mph. It’s an irrational SUV that begins feeling fairly rational at about 130 mph.”

Some media testers have put X6 Ms into the mid-high12s and while styling has been an issue with most, performance has not. Universally the X6 M has received rave reviews in the area of acceleration, high-speed cruising and handling. With 52/48% F&R weight distribution, the X6 M actually thinks it is a coupe on a skid pad.

C&D’s K.C. Colwell was truly impressed with its handling. “It drives smaller than it is, and the overall feel is more car rather than utility. With a skid pad performance of 0.92 g, the X6 M has more lateral grip than the M5 and the M6 (0.89 g for both). Plus it looks and sounds menacing.”
The key to the X6 M’s performance is its 555 horsepower twin turbocharged 4.4-liter (270 cubic inches) reverse-flow V8 with direct injection and new low-mass, twin-scroll turbos that produces more than two horsepower per cubic inch! While maximum power comes in at 6,000 rpm (7,000 redline), what really matters is the more than 500 foot pounds of torque that makes itself known at around 1,500 rpm. BMW engineers have pretty much eliminated turbo lag so response is truly linear. This motor starts to come alive at 1,500 rpm when you can use it and, through the magic of fuel and spark mapping and new exhaust manifolding with tuned runners, maximum boost is in excess of 17-psi!
BMW’s top of the line Sport Whatever Vehicle exudes quality fit and finish and boasts an interior with wall-to-wall quality leather and wonderful switchgear. And the latest multi-function iDrive is actually user-friendly. Its sport seats allow you to drive the X6 M like a sports car. When you press the M-button most stability settings are deactivated and you can select from politically correct to wild drive modes. Then the head-up display changes, exhaust note gets sportier, shifts get crisper and you can summon all 17-plus-psi of boost and increase top speed potential from 155 mph to over 170 mph!

If you’d like a more practical BMW SUV that delivers great performance and traditional styling, consider the X5 M. It’s cheaper and still fast enough to impress. Or check out the complete family of X6 models including the super-efficient ActiveHybrid to 30 and 40d and 35 and 50i models with boosted six and eight cylinder engines. For a sheer adrenalin rush however, there is no substitute for the X6 M.

For more information on BMW vehicles, please visit

To read more about the X6 M, check out John Phillips’ excellent story in Car&Driver: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/09q3/2010_bmw_x6_m_-road_test

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