What is the BMW X6M Competition?
One of BMW’s most famous big bruisers is the sublime M5 sedan, and the X6M Competition is a direct albeit taller, wider and heavier relative. It also sports BMW’s polarising coupe-esque roofline that sets it apart from its otherwise-identical X5M twin.
If you’re looking for five seats, lots of power and looks to… get the neighbours talking, let’s say, the $213,900 X6M could be your cup of tea.
What's the BMW X6M like to live with?
It’s a strange rig, the X6M. BMW reckons the alternative body shape makes up 40 per cent of the sales mix across the X5 and X6 body shapes, but is that a little hard to believe? I mean… just look at it.
The X5M is less confronting, sure, but the X6M just doesn’t sit right in my eyes. Is it the pronounced rear hump aft of the c-pillar? Is it the 21-inch rims that don’t quite fill the wheel arches? Whatever it is, the X6M design is, in my opinion, an acquired taste.
Thankfully, it’s a different story inside the car. Packing the mighty 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 made famous by the M5 sedan and M8 coupe, the X6M Competition – the only spec coming to Australia this April – is a ferociously fast SUV with a civilised side.
We traversed a 650km drive program with four sizable chaps and their luggage aboard, and while it’s not as roomy as, say, an X7, the X6M coped pretty well. The leather seats were comfy and there was enough room front and back to reach a decent legroom compromise, though a reclining rear seat back arrangement would have helped.
Cargo space is compromised for height when compared to a more traditional SUV, and the higher floor that hides the X6M’s rear-wheel-drive gubbins doesn’t help. For reference, the 580L boot gives away 70L to the X5M when the seats are up, and its 1580L figure with the seats laid flat is a 200L drop over the X5M.
The onboard satellite navigation set-up wasn’t much chop, though, proving difficult and unintuitive in use. Luckily, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can take up the slack.
What's the BMW X6M Competition like to drive?
In short, the BMW X6M is fast. Not just 3.8 seconds-to-100km/h fast, but properly, confusingly fast for a 2.3-tonne SUV.
Its 460kW and 750Nm are transmitted to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto, clever rear diff and a smart AWD set-up, but thanks to a well-thought-out suspension set-up that actually props up the opposite side of the car in hard cornering, its prodigious speed never feels unwieldy.
Its steering is a little light and lacking in feel, but the X6M’s ability to pile into a corner at breakneck speed, hustle through and rocket out the other side has to be felt to be believed. The gearbox takes a little coaxing to downshift, but the huge brakes are more than up to the task.
BMW’s much-vaunted two-mode braking set-up is available only in the most extreme driving mode, and the difference in feel between the two is perceptible but marginal – but overall braking performance is excellent.
The fuse in the system is the excellent Michelin tyres, which we suspect will die quick and unpleasant deaths should you decide to take your X6M out to the track. For every action of speed, there’s an equal and opposite reaction in tyre wear, unfortunately.
That pace is offset by excellent manners at more pedestrian speeds, with a pleasantly compliant yet controlled ride over all but the nastiest of square-edged hits. Even when the adjustable dampers are at their firmest, BMW has used roll control instead of stiff springs and shocks to keep the body of the X6M on the straight and narrow.
In practical terms, rear three-quarter vision is non-existent and the z-shaped automatic shifter takes some getting used to, but there are plenty of cameras on board, as well as paddles behind the steering wheel.
It’s also a thirsty jigger, with our spirited driving netting us an average of 18.0L/100km against a claimed combined fuel economy average of 12.7L/100km. Modify your driving style away from 'excitable motor journalist on an overseas launch' and you'll most likely get closer to the claimed figure.
Is the BMW X6M Competition worth the money?
Interesting question… at $214k, it’s the second-cheapest way to access the same 460kW V8 that graces the M5 Competition (the $110k X5M is the cheapest)… but it’s still a pretty solid wedge of cash for a large SUV.
Something like Alfa Romeo’s carbon fibre-clad, 375kW Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING competes on price at $189,900, but something as left-field as the 522kW Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk presents as better value at $134,950 if it’s space and pace you’re after.
Of course, neither of those cars is a genuine M, complete with the cachet that it brings. BMW reckons that the split between X5 and X6 is about 40 percent to the X6, and we reckon those customers will love the X6M for its looks as well as its performance largesse.