Anyone who is even the slightest bit practical wouldn’t buy a sports car, a $1.5-millon home or a $5,000 Armani suit. However, with the economic crisis supposedly drawing to an end, luxury goods are selling very well (though perhaps not at the same pace as before). Among these great-for-the-ego-but-hopelessly-useless luxury goods, there’s the BMW X6M.
Two years ago, BMW launched its X6, a sort of SUV coupe with a shape that some find superb and others find hideous. The steep incline of the tail end that stops abruptly doesn’t do anything to improve cargo space or help rear visibility. Its main adversaries (Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne, Land Rover Range Rover Sport) offer more cargo space and better visibility, and can fit at least five people, whereas the X6 can only transport four. With all of that said, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the X6M is a useless SUV!
Useless doesn’t mean unpleasant!
The base model, the X6 xDrive35i (a designation that is more zany than descriptive) has an engine that features “only” 300 hp. The xDrive50i version has 400, which guarantees first-rate performances for this 2,220 kilo (4,894 pounds!) vehicle. To satisfy the eternally unsatisfied, BMW anticipated that the X6M’s 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbo engine would feature 555 hp and 500 lbs-ft of torque. This vehicle is extremely heavy (2,415 kilos or 5,324 pounds or 2.94 smart cars or 0.948 of a Dodge Ram 4x4) but that doesn’t stop it from going from 0-100 km/hr in 4.7 seconds, and from 80 to 120 km/hr in 4.0 seconds. Of course, the BMW engineers paid special attention to the response time of their turbos and lag is non-existent. As for the disc brakes, (395 mm or 15.5 inches in the front, and 385 or 15.2 inches in the rear), they are up to the huge task that they are charged to perform regularly. We’ll talk a little later about their performance on a circuit. However, I found them abnormally shrill when cold.
While it isn’t going to be used as a moving van any time soon, it’s on the road that the X6M proves its capabilities. First of all, it goes like crazy. The slightest touch of the accelerator, and pow, we’re on our way in a veritable symphony for fans of performance. I know, I know, there are a few party poopers who’ll criticize the 11.9 litres per hundred kilometres on the open road, but don’t forget that jealousy is a terrible fault. It is, however, harder not to notice the 17 litres per hundred kilometres in town. During our week-long test drive, our X6M registered an average of 16.9...or super of course. When it comes the X6M, filling up isn’t easy in any sense of the term...
The six-speed automatic transmission functions like the engine: fast. It even helps the engine rev at 1,900 rpm at 100 km/hr on the “D.” When the lever is placed in Sport mode, the speed climbs immediately to 2,400 rpm.
Power and ability
If there’s one criticism to direct at the X6M, it would be that it’s tough to stay under the legal and/or socially acceptable limits on the highway. When you have so much power under your right foot, you have to learn to control your hormones. For journalistic reasons alone, I was forced to push the high-speed machine on a slightly bumpy road. I know very few vehicles, even sporty ones, that hold the road as well as the X6M. It just shows that it’s not just powerful, but it’s also very capable. Strangely, the M’s suspensions seemed more comfortable than those of an X6 tested last year and that left me slightly irritated. According to a person in charge at BMW, that was mainly due to the winter tires that our test vehicle was equipped with, 255/50R19-size Continental 4x4 Wintercontact SSRs, which are the same size as the others, by the way. One thing is certain, our winter tires were definitely more comfortable than those that came on the X6M in the summertime, 275/40R20 on the front and 315/35R20 in the rear. Suffice it to say, it costs an arm and a leg to replace these tires.
As my colleague Gélinas shared with us in the 2010 Car Guide, the BMW X6M turned out to be very pleasant to drive on a track, in spite of its ridiculously heavy weight that negatively affected braking distance and speed when entering turns. Moreover, although the brakes never gave up on our driver during our test, pushing the pedal well beyond half-way down demanded a certain amount of confidence… Once in the curve, the X6M proved stable and had minimal, easily controllable roll. The extraordinary power of the engine paired with the DPC system (Dynamic Performance Control) and the M Dynamic mode that acts on the xDrive all-wheel drive makes for great fishtailing coming out of turns. Unfortunately, 95% for the few X6Ms sold annually in Canada will never go on a track...
There’s an “M” button on the steering wheel. Once pushed, the X6 is in Mdynamic mode. Then, you’re able to modify different settings like the Electronic Damper Control – the firmness of the shocks, DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and engine power. Other than its incredible mechanics, the X6M shares most of its physical characteristics with the regular X6. It’s even hard to know which is which unless you look at the size of the tires, the alloy wheels, the more generous front air intakes and the M inscription on the hatch. Even in the passenger compartment, the changes are subtle. Speaking of the passenger compartment, note that the quality of the materials and assembly justify the asking price. Also, because of the arched roof line, it’s easy to bang your head getting in, but it’s nothing compared to getting into the two back seats!
The X6M, despite all of the bad things we could say, is an exceptional vehicle, as much for its style, its handling and its price. And it’s exactly what the buyers of this type of car are looking for. You know what? If I won the 6/49, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy myself the planet’s most useless SUV...