Though we are most decidedly a visually oriented species, sometimes it is better to trust our ears than believe our eyes. During my first track outing with the 2015 BMW X6 M, my eyes kept telling me the BMW is too big, too tall, and way too ungainly in appearance to attack the course with serious intent.
Meanwhile, my ears were saying; “The people just said this is the fastest, best handling X6 M ever devised.” Then my ears urged me to listen to the sound of the engine; “Would it sound so powerful if it weren’t capable?” Then, I was reminded; “Listen to the tires—do you hear them howling in protest? We’re already going quite fast.” Then my butt chimed in too; “Check it, we aren’t sliding, there’s no body roll, come on man—let’s go!”
Long story short, when it comes to the BMW X6 M, you’ll be best served if you ignore what you see, and instead trust what you hear and feel.
Because honestly, the way this thing goes is positively surreal
Models & Pricing
For the 2015 model year, the redesigned BMW X6 M’s pricing starts at $102,100.
A subset of the X6 model range, but considered more than a trim level (which, technically it is), the X6 M is more like a completely separate model unto itself—one of the BMW M branded vehicles. Thus, the 2015 BMW X6 M is a very well equipped single model proposition, with but two specific option packages offered to enhance the model.
Standard features include 21-inch double-spoke alloy wheels with high performance tires, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, a leather wrapped BMW M steering wheel, 20-way adjustable sport seats, an alcantara headliner, and a glass moonroof.
Keyless entry and pushbutton start, smart cruise control, BMW’s iDrive interface with a 10.2-inch hi-res monitor, navigation with voice command and traffic monitoring, front and rear paring sensor arrays, quad-zone automatic climate control, a power actuated tailgate, a rear view camera system, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, a surround audio system, and satellite radio are also included.
The $1900 Driver Assistance Package features active driving assistance, side and top view cameras, and speed limit information The $4,500 Executive Package adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, soft close automatic doors, a head up display, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front—and heated rear seats, as well as side shades for the rear windows.
Other options fitted to our test model included BMWs $500 parking assistant, a $3,700 Bang and Olufsen sound system, Enhanced USB and Bluetooth plus smartphone integration at $500, and a full merino leather interior at $2,900.
BMW charges $950 for destination and delivery, so all told; the as tested price of our 2015 BMW X6 M came to $117,050.
Options not fitted to our test car include a rear-seat video entertainment system for $1,700, and night vision with pedestrian protection at $2,300.
The look of the new X6 M is more evolution than revolution, so to the casual observer there will probably appear to be nothing new about the model. And yet, the lines have been cleaned up considerably. Even though the new one is about the same size as the old one, it somehow looks smaller. Once again though, this is a case of your eyes telling you things that aren’t exactly true.
Meanwhile, every exterior styling detail is driven by function over style.
The front view is dominated by six air intakes. In addition to the twin kidney grilles there’s a slot just beneath them, a rather gaping opening beneath the slot, and two more air intakes in the lower corners of the front fascia. The cognoscenti will immediately ascertain this to be a model with a great deal of performance potential; after all, just look at how much air it needs to do what it does.
The side view features a nice piece of brightwork with the M logo accentuating the air extraction gills in the front fenders. You’ll also note the way the two-part character lines lend more fluidity to the profile of the X6 M. These blend nicely with the long hood and flowing roofline to add “motion”. The twin-spoke alloy wheels pick up on the twin-spoke design of the blades in the kidney grilles. They also nicely enhance the muscular wheel arches.
The rear view features a subtle little tail spoiler, a revised rear bumper treatment with recesses reflectors, and of course the telltale quad exhaust tips.
Features & Controls
Inside, the X6 M is contemporary BMW through and through. Placing everything well within reach for the enthusiast driver, the interior treatment deftly blends luxury and sportiness. There’s no questioning the build quality and the materials employed are all first cabin.
The instrument panel is specific to M models, as is the multifunction steering wheel. The M-specific instrument cluster’s displays show the gear selected, system status (engine dynamics, Dynamic Damper Control, M Servotronic), M Drive mode status, as well as the M Drive menu in the information display.
The center console—as has been the case in every BMW for who knows how long is slightly canted toward the driver so every button can be reached without leaning forward. Crowning the dash is the multi-configurable 10.2-inch high-resolution display where you’ll interact with the iDrive system and monitor control of the audio, navigation, climate, communications systems, as well as the various chassis and engine settings the X6 M offers.
An innovative new feature is the BMW M Laptimer App. With your smartphone paired to the X6 M, the app records the BMW’s speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, the gear currently engaged, steering angle, and accelerator position. The application can be used to help improve your driving by analyzing your actions and reactions at various points around the track using graphic displays on your phone. It also allows two laps to be compared—corner-by-corner.
Comfort & Cargo
This probably goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway, the BMW X6 M is an exceptionally comfortable automobile; with all-day comfort provided at all four seating positions. The front sport seats are outstanding in terms of the support they offer, particularly in high-G cornering situations. But more than that, they feel good in day-to-day driving as well.
Legroom and headroom are outstanding in the front seat. The rear seat legroom is adequate, and can be even more so if front seat passengers are inclined toward a bit of generosity. Rear-seat headroom (as you might expect with the rear slope to the roof), is somewhat compromised. But at 6’1”, I fit back there quite well, with no real feeling of claustrophobia.
The cargo compartment does benefit from the fact the rear seats fold; but owing to style, the X6 M gives up some cargo capacity—measuring 19.2 cubic feet with the rear seat deployed, and 53.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Safety & Crash Test Ratings
Standard safety features include six-piston front and dual-piston rear disc brakes with vented and cross drilled rotors, ABS, stability control, traction control, cornering brake control, dynamic brake control, brake drying, a full complement of airbags, crash sensors, rollover sensors, and tire pressure warning.
Optional electronic driver’s aids include a heads-up display, self-parking, night vision with pedestrian protection, lane departure warning, active blind spot monitoring, multiplexed camera systems, and speed limit information.
The 2015 BMW X6 M has not been evaluated by NHTSA, nor the IIHS.
Engine & Fuel Economy
Seemingly never-ending power comes from the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, which produces 567 horsepower and 553 ft-lbs of torque. The twin-scroll turbochargers benefit from cross-bank exhaust manifolds for a shorter path of travel for the exhaust gasses before engaging the turbos.
The crankcase employs a closed-deck design enabling it to contain higher cylinder pressures so it can reliably generate outstanding performance. High precision direct injection and variable valve timing also contribute to the prodigious output. The lightened crankshaft is forged for extra strength, facilitating the accommodation of the outsized torque output—while still delivering fast response.
The X6 M boasts a grand total of 10 radiators, five coolant pumps, and four cooling circuits—one each for the engine coolant, turbochargers, transmission, and the engine oil. Further, the oil sump has been designed to continually supply the engine with lubrication even while the vehicle is pulling 1.2 g in lateral acceleration. The exhaust system is similarly optimized with bypass flaps capable of activating based upon engine demand.
Power is routed to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel and launch control. The transmission can also be pre-programmed for a variety of shift strategies depending upon the way the X6 M is being used.
While fuel economy has yet to be formally quoted; in street and highway driving we saw a combined 20 miles per gallon. This is somewhat in line with BMW’s quoted driving range of 475 miles with the X6 M’s 22.4-gallon fuel tank.
As I mentioned at the top of this posting, the size and heft of this 5,156-pound vehicle belies the fact it is an outrageously capable high performance automobile. The power is almost overwhelming, and yet, in day-to-day driving, it never goads you into extravagant displays of prowess. Only the ever present (and pleasantly so) engine note reminds you of the pavement-shredding power at your command.
In addition to the otherworldly acceleration, the X6 M delivers outstanding grip with virtually no body roll whatsoever. Yes, BMWs masterful suspension technology plays a significant role here, but Michelin also developed a specific tire for the model with a different compound for each rib of the tire tread. Further the front tires were developed specifically to improve steering precision, while the rears were designed to optimize tractability. Of course, the BMW’s 50:50 front/rear weight distribution doesn’t hurt either.
Another huge contributor to the handling prowess of the X6 M is BMWs intelligent all-wheel drive system. Biased to the rear under normal circumstances, the system’s electronically controlled multi-plate clutch will permit fully variable transfer of torque (all the way up to 100 percent) from rear to front as the situation demands. This delivers outstanding tractability from a standing start, as well as on slippery surfaces. It also helps the X6 M tremendously in cornering.
Even more remarkably, even with all of the weight of the BMW, the stability control system let me indulge in mild drifts, taking advantage of power oversteer through some of tighter corners on the track. Keep in mind—this is an all-wheel drive vehicle. That’s almost unheard of.
And, when it comes to braking, the X6 M has more stopping power than it will ever need. Over the course of my day on the track, in lap after lap, after lap, pulling the big Bimmer down from speeds approaching 140 miles per hour to negotiate tight corners at the end of very long straights fade never made itself apparent.
Long story short—they got this thing completely dialed in.
I only wish it were better looking.
Even with the redesign, the styling of the BMW X6 M remains exceedingly polarizing. Further, while I fully admire its outstanding capabilities, and have nothing but mad respect for what BMW’s engineering team has pulled off here, it just isn’t a ride I’d naturally gravitate toward.
In all honesty, I’ve never really gotten the X6
Other than a fashion statement, why do you really need one? And further, when you’re talking X6 M, I’m like, yes it goes like that—but so will the M5, M4, and M6—all more practical and better looking automobiles—for my tastes.
Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s just me; I’m not passing judgment on you by any means. If you like it, you do—and if you have the means, more power to you, literally. Because frankly, if the X6 floats your boat the X6 M will take it all the way around the world.
Pros & Cons
Pros: Outstanding power, amazing handling, terrific comfort, exclusivity, nicely equipped
Cons: Polarizing styling