Lots of performance trapped inside a confused body.
– Detroit, Michigan
Part sports car, part SUV, and part coupe, the BMW X6 M attempts to blend several competing vehicle types into one body. It has, after all, essentially the same “S63” biturbocharged heart as the M6 and the outgoing M5 sedan, with humongous power and capability. And it’s an SUV, which should offer practicality, yet there’s less room than BMW’s own X5 M. As a purely rational purchase, this vehicle makes no sense: In trying to do too many things, the X6 M only comes off as compromised.
Tons of power. Twin-scroll turbos mounted within the valley of the engine spin up quickly and will deliver all 553 pound-feet of punch from just 2,200 rpm. At any engine speed, in fact, boost arrives near-instantly. And with a total of 567 horsepower on offer, the 4.4-liter V8 makes ultra-swift work of pretty much any road you can find, punching hard at the merest nudge of the throttle.
Configuration shortcut buttons. Like many modern performance cars, this BMW offers a plethora of modes for its components: three settings each for the engine, suspension, steering, and transmission. To make things easier, BMW lets you pre-program two modes that can instantly be selected by M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel. This makes it simpler to preset and dial up the exact drive-mode configuration you want without Konami-style button-mashing.
Sounds heroic. Whether natural or generated through the speakers, the sounds from this BMW are full-bore muscle machine. Baritone rumbles and snarling upshifts put this right up there as one of the sexiest-sounding SUVs around.
Not hugely fun. Oh, sure, it hauls in a straight line – 60 miles per hour arrives in four seconds flat – and hangs on around corners like it’s velcroed to the road. But what the X6 M misses is that intangible spine-tingling sensation with which all good sports cars should electrify their drivers. There’s not that much feeling of speed through the steering wheel, pedals, or the seat of my pants; the cabin is too cosseting and isolated to thrill me. The X6 M is mighty capable, but it doesn’t make me seek out the long way home.
Reduced interior room. Perhaps you think the X6’s profile is more attractive than the X5’s. Otherwise, picking the X6 M instead of its more traditionally shaped brother brings only compromises: cargo room with the seats up falls from 35.8 to 26.6 cubic feet, rear leg- and headroom each decline by an inch, and visibility rearward is worsens. One buys a sporty SUV because it combines performance and practicality, but the X6 M compromises on that second aspect.
Plain-jane looks. This is a six-figure performance machine that can do 156 mph, yet little from the outside really indicates that. Subtle nods like the quad exhausts and blue brake calipers do little to announce that you’ve got an SUV that can outrun a Camaro SS – where’s the visual drama? And this tester’s bland red paint only accentuates the bloated mass of its rear haunches.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com