2010 BMW X6 M
Date Posted: January 6, 2010
By Zack Spencer
The BMW X6 M is the most powerful SUV on the road but does anyone really need this kind of power?
The premium SUV market has been well served by mostly German automakers with vehicles like the Mercedes M-Class, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5. This class of expensive hardware has become an important part of the luxury market as these companies sell them in vast numbers. But now that most of these vehicles have been around for the better part of ten years, each automaker is trying to differentiate themselves with ever more unique offerings. In the case of BMW, they have taken the popular X5 and cropped the roof, provided a coupe like silhouette, dynamic styling and unique engine offerings and branded it as the X6. It might be based on the same platform as the X5 but the attention to sportiness is attractive to buyers who want a utility vehicle that is more rewarding to drive. The ultimate version of the X6 is the M version, the most powerful SUV on the planet with 555hp.
The X6 is a design that you will either love or hate, there seems to be no middle ground with the people I talk to. The new trend in the auto industry is to call a 4-door vehicle with a cropped roof a coupe. The last time I checked a coupe has two doors, so calling the X6 a coupe is a bit silly. I prefer to call it the ''X5 sport''. Regardless, the lower wider stance has some drawbacks, especially for rear seat passengers and cargo capability. The rear window is very shallow so outward visibility is minimal, this is why BMW included backup sensors as standard equipment and believe it or not, even with a starting price of $99,900 a backup camera is optional! The more dramatic aerodynamics package plus standard 20-inch wheels and ''M'' badging in the side and back make the X6 M easy to spot.
Audi is often credited with the best materials and finish on the inside of their products but I have to say that the build quality inside the X6 is stunning. All the panels are assembled with perfection; even the much maligned iDrive computer interface controller has a new design that makes it a pleasure to use-- finally. The front seats offer the same wide and open feel as the larger X5 but the back seats suffer from a sense of claustrophobia. With a cropped roof, the door openings are small and the rear passengers have to scrunch up to gain access. Once inside there is plenty of headroom and ample legroom but there is only room for two people. Forget about riding on the ''hump'', there isn't even a seat in the middle; it has been replaced with a personal storage area. The rear cargo area is deep and wide but due to the sporty rear design, the cargo height is sacrificed and the floor is high off the ground making it a bit high to place items in the back.
Okay, now the good stuff. It amazes me that BMW can produce a 555hp utility vehicle with 20-inch wheels, aggressive sports suspension yet it is easy and even pleasurable to drive. The suspension and engine performance can be selected with the touch of a button and even when the most aggressive settings are chosen the X6 M never bites back. The 555hp is developed by matching a 4.4L V8 with two turbo chargers for maximum power but still able to achieve reasonable fuel consumption (considering the power). Even though BMW stuck with a conventional automatic transmission instead of a dual clutch variety, the shifts are very quick and the driver still has the ability to shift manually. The steering is heavy on even the base X6 and the M version is no different but the sense of solidness is felt with every twist and turn. This and the xDrive AWD system with advanced electronics make this large utility dance through the corners.
I'm going to say the same thing about the X6 M that I said about the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. Why? Why do we need a 555hp utility vehicle? BMW's X6 xDrive 50i already has a turbo charged 4.4L V8 with 400hp; do I really need another 155hp to get to work that much quicker? No. I must admit that the level of refinement on the inside, the unique styling but mostly the refined ride and handling impressed me. I must also admit that all the X6's offer these same attributes but with less available grunt. For day-to-day life, the already capable base X6 is a great vehicle and the already mentioned 400hp versions will more that stimulate any enthusiast's fancy. I suspect that any potential buyer of a 555hp vehicle could care less what I think, they'll go and buy one ''just because''.
The Good, The Bad
Big, bold and bad to the bone, the X6 M has a good balance of rawness and refinement that makes it easy to live with. The advanced electronics that monitor wheel speed, the angle of cornering and grip make the xDrive system a tour de force.
Isn't the already powerful X6 with a 400hp enough? How much power do we need?
Power: 4.4L turbo V8 with 555hp
Fill-up: 17.2L/11.9L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $99,900