First test drive of the 2020 BMW X6 M: who’s laughing now?

You have to hand it over to BMW. When the X6 was first launched in 2008, the awkwardly proportioned wedge design was polarizing, to say the least. In 2010, the X6 (and its fellow podium finisher, the X5) was the first BMW SUV to wear the M badge. It was a double-blade in enthusiasts’ eyes, and we even said the X6 M “defies all reason” in our first drive. All signs seem to point to an equally ominous beginning and an equally swift end to this segment.

Fast forward 12 years, and it’s clear the opposite has happened. Since its debut, BMW has sold nearly 67,000 copies of the X6 here in the US, of which nearly a third are X6 M models. And with the third generation of the 2020 X6 M debuting, every premium German brand is now positioning a model in its segment. alien ball. The era of the convertible coupe is at its height.

How fast is the BMW X6 M?

No one to relinquish their dominance in the category they’ve created, the new X6 M ready to play. Under the hood, the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 is worth 600 horsepower and 533 pound-feet of torque. If that level of performance isn’t acceptable, BMW is happy to offer you the X6 M Competition, which gains another 17 horsepower from the same V-8. Both versions are mated to a highly responsive and intuitive eight-speed automatic transmission, making small shift paddles largely unnecessary. Just give it the boot and go.

It’s amazing how quickly the X6 M builds up speed. Aided by minimal turbo lag and a greasy torque curve, the V-8 propels this 5,400-pound beast forward with an exhilarating sense of urgency. Shots from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds (or 3.7 seconds in the X6 M Competition). Although BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system transfers the bulk of the power to the rear axle, there’s no wheel spin to speak of, just fixed front-wheel drive. Depending on conditions, the system can transfer nearly 100 percent of the power to the front wheels, and the electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential can transfer power from side to side. It’s the kind of tech magic that gives the X6 M an amazing amount of hustle.

Amid all this virtual magic, BMW offers the option to configure practically every aspect of the driving experience – which is great in theory, but in reality very unnecessary. With the X6 M’s massive and brutal power, fiddling with these inputs is like expecting an elephant to perform the waltz and cha-cha. Although modifications to things like brake feel and steering provide noticeable differences in effort, they generally don’t affect performance. Given how aggressive the adaptive suspension is in Comfort mode, only a masochist would consider a Sport or Sport Plus for everyday use. And while BMW continues to insist on digitally reproducing the exhaust tone through its excellent Bowers & Wilkins audio system, the best tune still sings from behind.

OK, but what about this funky design?

Design is, as always, a love or hate affair. There really is no middle ground. Any remaining trace of finesse has been wiped out and replaced with a seemingly random assortment of shapes and slots. In particular, the top of the front door intersects with the A-pillar at such a flat angle that, when viewed from the side, it appears that the entire front grille is from a completely different vehicle. The new trapezoidal fender vent begins in a zigzag line that runs along the doors in the rear wheel well, connects at the other end to the bumper cut-out line and ends in the new wing-like taillights. The X6 M Competition raises the bold factor even further, darkening the kidney surround, exterior mirror caps, style badges, rear diffuser trim and tailpipes.

Inside, the interior space is either a compromise or a choice, depending on your point of view. With a height of 66.6 inches, the X6 M is more than 2.0 inches shorter than the X5. The tilted rear end also reduces cargo space to 27.4 cubic feet of the X5’s 33.9, and rear passengers will tirelessly bump into their thoughts upon entry. Grab handles have been relocated from the headliner to the door panels, blocking easy access to the power window and mirror controls.

In other words, form dominates function more than ever. But that’s exactly the point of something like the X6 M. From a performance standpoint, it’s incredibly fast, surprisingly nimble, and unapologetically demands your attention. However, for all BMW’s talk of dynamism and segment-breaking, a sense of humor is also required to appreciate the presence of the 600-horsepower Quasimodo. If you’re laughing with the X6 M instead, the whole concept makes more sense. Meanwhile, BMW laughs all the way to the bank.

2020 BMW X6 M / X6 M Competitor Specifications
price $109.595 – $118,595
layout Front Drive, 4WD, 5 Pass, 4 Door SUV
engine 4.4 L / 600-617 hp / 553 lb-ft Twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
transition 8 speed automatic
curb weight 5400 lbs (CHF)
wheelbase 117.0 inches
Length x width x height 195.0 x 79.5 x 66.6-66.7 inches
0-60 mph 3.7-3.8 seconds (mfr estimates)
EPA FUEL ECON 13/18/15 mpg
Energy consumption, city/highway 259/187 kWh/100 miles
CO2 emissions, comb 1.31 lb/mile
for sale Spring 2020

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