2015 BMW X6 M First Drive Review

13 Jan 2016 Car Reviews

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2015 BMW X6 M First Drive Review

Mega 4WD coupe gets the M treatment to transform it into a massively powerful automotive enigma.

So, what is it?

It’s a confusing but glorious 2.3 tonne SUV coupe thing with a 0-100km/h time of just 4.2 seconds. That’s thanks to a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 burping out 423kW and 750Nm. Does that make sense? Not exactly. But the previous generation arrived with an equally schizophrenic sense of purpose in 2009. Six years later, the world’s SUV lust having continued unabated, our hunger for ‘glorious but pointless’ might finally have caught up. It’s insanely quick.

BMW X6 M Front Side

Why should I care?

Because while even 18 months ago, before the much smaller likes of the Porsche Macan and Merc GLA45 proved their dynamic chops, launching an SUV at a racetrack – let alone Texas’s F1-hosting Circuit of the Americas – would have been a bluntly terrible idea. In fact, German touring car champion Marco Wittman mentioned this pre-drive in Austin. “I was not sure if this was a good idea,” he said, his torso all bedecked in M livery, “but now this is my favourite M car.” Oh, Marco! You’re a liar, or you’re odd. Even so, that’s a huge vote of confidence.

What’s new about it?

Lots. Power and torque bumps are reasonably modest (4 per cent) and reasonably impressive (10 per cent) respectively. Despite earlier reports, over 90 per cent of the twin-scroll V8 – the gruntiest BMW has ever shoehorned into an AWD car – is new. No fewer than 10 radiators are required to keep it cool. There are two new cogs in the slick 8-speed ’box, new compound brakes with sexy, blue, shoebox-sized calipers and a soundtrack that suits SUVs like The Amity Affliction suits a Country Women’s Association bake sale.

BMW X6 M rear

That’s all fine. What’s it like to drive fast?

Surprisingly lithe, if not delicate. With the suspension settings ratcheted to Sport mode it hides its weight like most Tinder headshots, creating the slightly dissonant sensation of a high seating position matched to minimal body roll. Those twin scroll turbos, cradled in the V8’s ‘vee’, are gratifyingly free of lag, and with the DSC disabled, the X6 M will even acquiesce to a spot of cheerful drifting. In essence, it drives like a lighter, lower car, all grip and noise – at least until those anchors, despite all discs being perforated and vented, start to be overwhelmed after four or five full-tilt laps.

And driving from home to the office in the city?

Dandy. The ride is significantly firmer than the base X6, but like the engine note, that’s par for the course with M vehicles. Really, it’s fine over real-world potholes, even on the optional 21-inch low-profiles. The rear seat is spacious enough, although made claustrophobic by its stretched, coupe-esque C-pillar. It’s awash with buttery leather, Alcantara and carbon. The boot is a not-bad 580 litres.

BMW X6 M Interior

Is there anything bad about it?

Critics will say the X6 M is neither here nor there, and they’re right. It’s impressive how athletic M’s fairy dust has rendered a 2.3 tonne, 4.9m, five-door SUV… even if you’re nagged by the thought that their time is best spent elsewhere. This ain’t obese, but it’s a beast. And its looks could polarise.

How much would I have to pay for one? And is it worth the coin?

The X6M is $194,700, which is almost $40k below the Cayenne Turbo. The porkiest Porker has less power, equal torque, perhaps a pinch more prestige.

Would you take the X6 M or a Cayenne Turbo, then?

The X6 M looks much better, steers almost as well and is an equally perplexing mishmash of purposes. Both are colossal and luxurious. The M might shade it.

Click here to find out more about the BMW X6 M.