Got the best part of £100k sitting in your back-pocket and wondering what’s the least tasteful way to blow it on something? Ponder no more, as BMW has the answer for you with brand new X5 and X6 M models.
We don’t want to delve too deeply into discussions about what has happened to the BMW M-brand; that ship set sail quite some time ago. But whatever has happened, we now find ourselves looking at M versions of the third generation X5 SAV and second generation X6 crossover.
Both share the same 4.4 litre TwinPower V8 petrol engine with, naturally, twin-turbochargers to produce 575 bhp and 553 lb ft of torque. Yes; insane power available in 4WD SAV/SUV/coupe/crossover bodyshells. The net result is a shared 0-62 mph time of 4.2 seconds, with both limited to a top-speed 155 mph. That’s obviously more than fast enough to hurry anyone else out of the third lane on a motorway.
But before we dive into character assassination of those who might buy one of these models, it’s worth reflecting that M Division hasn’t held back on engineering prowess. The brand has a commitment to make every BMW M car ‘fit for the [Nürburgring] Nordschleife’ which for some manufacturers would simply mean just using rock-hard suspension settings. Not BMW; both X5 and X6 M come with a complicated sump and suction snorkel system to ensure that, even when generating cornering loads of 1.2g, the engine isn’t starved of oil. That’s also not mentioning other additions like a lightweight crankshaft, or fuel injectors working at 2900 PSI. These are not just over styled posing pouches; whether that’s good or bad is a matter of opinion.
We can’t complain about there being Sport and Sport+ modes available for the adjustable suspension and M Servotronic steering setup. Options also abound for the Dynamic Stability Control system, which includes the M Dynamic Mode that has been tuned to allow for ‘some mild drifting’ before intervening. That’s a direct quote from the press release, BMW actually intends the rear-wheel drive biased 4WD system to encourage oversteer when wanted. With an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the 4WD system can channel up to 100% of torque between front and rear axles when needed, with the aim of allowing the X5 and X6 Ms to make rapid progress regardless of the weather conditions. Six-piston brake calipers do the stopping at the front end, with single-piston calipers at the back; both are painted dark blue, oh yes.
Externally, there are obvious M styling enhancements with gaping front bumpers, and functional diffusers at the rear. The X6 M features a pop-up spoiler to keep the back-end in check, with both models getting quad-exhaust tailpipes. Electronically controlled flaps in the exhaust system change the volume as demanded; no word on whether engine noise is piped through the stereo speakers like the M5… Standard wheels and tyres are 285/40 R20 at the front with 325/35 R20 at the back. 21″ wheels are on the options list.
On the inside there’s an M leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles and M Drive buttons, an M gearshift lever, and an M Drive menu in the information display. The M front sports seats are finished in fine-grain Merino leather with contrast stitching, and also feature embossed M logos should you need to be reminded of what you’re driving. Standard specification includes heated front seats, twin-zone climate control, and a 20GB hard drive for storing music on it. Pricing is expectedly steep; the X5 M begins at £90,170 with the X6 M even more at £93,070. For context, the less powerful and slower accelerating Range Rover Sport SVR costs £93,450; we imagine BMW will be going after that car’s Nürburging lap record in the near future.
At EngageSportMode we’ve struggled to like the X6 since its inception. Yet, at the same time, the X5 – especially in fast forms – has been one of our guilty pleasures since the first generation. Perhaps it’s because there seems to be little need for a high-riding Sports Activity Coupé like the X6 to exist, other than in the daydreams of a BMW marketing manager. The X5 does, to an extent, have some practical merit although neither are likely to venture off-road given such road biased tyres. The typical stereotypes about those who might buy either X5 or X6 M do little for the image of them in the eyes of car enthusiasts.
In short, we can’t condone the X6 M; it exists purely to show off that you’ve paid more for a car that’s less practical than the equally quick and less costly X5 M. On the flip side, EngageSportMode does approve of the X5 M; it makes no sense, but there is something secretly desirable about wedging a hugely powerful engine into an upright SUV-style body. Both hit dealerships in April 2015, with BMW dealerships presumably taking orders now should you have some money to launder.