Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
Does the BMW X6 M make any sense at all? Of course not, but we’ve carefully diagnosed the problem down to that sloping roofline. In fact, for the X6 M to achieve that sleek profile and aggressive stance, it had to suffer from a multitude of coupe-induced side effects: diminished trunk space, chubbier taillights, and a lack of rear headroom that serves as a deterrent against tall people calling you for a ride. On the contrary, BMW also sells the X5 M, a proper and more practical truck – one that is also cheaper, roomier, boxier, and subjectively, better looking. Yet, despite all these shortcomings, I’ve slowly warmed up to the X6 M. I love its unforgiving attitude towards all things nonsensical, and the fact that it has soldiered on despite receiving a boatload of negative criticism. Part of the reason the X6 is still around is because it has sold incredibly well, so I’m clearly not the only one to share this oddball attraction. So for all you Sports Activity Coupe haters out there, let’s take a hard look at the 2015 BMW X6 M and see why thousands of these six-figure variants have found new homes since their 2009 inception.
Now in its second generation, BMW’s fire breathing rocket ship from M division is not host to any radical changes. Under the hood lies BMW’s familiar but potent 4.4L twin-turbo V8 that produces 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 12 hp and 53 lb-ft from last year’s model. It is also the same V8 that powers the current generation F10 M5 but with larger turbos and new internal parts, making it the most powerful engine to be hooked up to any all-wheel drive production BMW.
For reference, the X6 M gets from 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, making it quicker than the M5 by 0.1 seconds, yet slower than an M4 Coupe by 0.1 seconds. Find yourself pulling up to a Range Rover Sport V8 at a red light? Good, because that brute can only do 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds, and they weigh nearly the same too. Even Land Rover’s new halo car, the Range Rover Sport SVR, can only muster 4.7 seconds. Turbochargers seem to be winning the forced induction wars.
Furthermore, the X6 M’s twin turbos offer almost zero lag, rewarding the driver with seamless power delivery that noticeably whiplashes your head back when you take a quick stab at the throttle. And despite a demoralizing curbweight and a high center of gravity, the X6 M manages to be light on its feet and contradicts what people say about it driving like an UberBoat.
We can credit the bewildering speed of the X6 M to BMW’s new and exemplary 8-speed M Steptronic Transmission that replaces the old 6-speed automatic. Unlike the M4, this one is a single clutch transmission, not a dual clutch setup. The transmission comes in the form of an SMG and lacks any slotted parking gear, so you’re encouraged to make use of the electric (I know…) handbrake button conveniently located below the shifter. It slowly becomes habitual but if you look on the bright side, there is no automatic force-transmitting connection between the engine and transmission during standstill. This means that letting your foot off the brake won’t cause the car to inch forward by itself.
All-wheel drive (AWD) on an M car can be quite a blessing. Having two extra wheels to distribute the wealth of torque to the ground allows for mind-boggling acceleration. Yet the X6 M’s AWD system has a rear-wheel bias, meaning priority is given to the back wheels but it can transfer up to 50% to the front if need be. You can also configure the amount of traction control you want. I personally kept it in M Dynamic Mode (MDM) mode, a less intrusive version of the stability control system – the computers will only give mild assistance - and here I am power-sliding a 2,351 kg SUV like I would an M4. Run-flat tires are no longer standard on the X6 M either (hooray!).
Naturally, one would think that the X6 M would sound better than the M4 because it has two more cylinders, right? Not in this case. In fact, the X6 M’s exhaust sounds duller and more conservative than the M4. I’ll admit that it didn’t get my heart racing much either – albeit that’s probably the one and only compromise of having such a soundproof cabin. The M4’s inline-six revs to a higher rpm too, 500 rpm more to be exact.
Our observed fuel economy with the X6 M was as expected. BMW’s official numbers are 16.9 L/100km city, 12.1 L/100km highway, and 14.6 L/100km averaged out. We got around 16.3 L/100km with a heavier emphasis towards stop-and-go traffic; you can blame that figure on the ridiculous 3-person HOV lane rules.
The front and side profiles are visually stunning but I’m afraid BMW has got the pudgy rear all wrong. This is where the X5 M nails it. The X6 M’s taillights look like they’ve been crying too much and have swelled up with conjunctivitis. It’s a stark contrast to the bolder and sharper front fascia – the X6 M badge barely even fits back there. Speaking of badges, have you seen those Euro-spec X6 M50d variants? Now those badges look like they need some smaller fonts. But whom am I kidding? BMW drivers love their M badges - they’re literally everywhere. Almost like opening the cover of a Waldo book, we scoured the car to see how many we could find: they are on the door sills, steering wheel, fender vents, front grille, trunk panel, headrests, gear shifter, engine cover, gauges, wheels, calipers, and even then, I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a few.
Whenever another enthusiast strolls on by, “That’s a nice blue” is always the first compliment that comes out their mouths. Long Beach Blue Metallic seems to be the only way to have the X6 M, and it’s a name that suits it well. It has a deeper and more luscious hue than the Yas Marina Blue found on the M3 and M4, but it’s also more cheerful and striking than the Estoril Blue found on non-M cars.
Spotters guide for the X6 M variant: larger front intakes, side gills are more pronounced around the fender with a subtle X6 M badge above the chromed vent, M style swooping mirrors, quad exhausts, and last but not least, a rear lip spoiler. You heard right - a spoiler on an SUV.
A well-appointed interior greets you when you open the X6 M’s chunky door. Everything on our tester was wrapped in the Full Merino Leather package ($4,500), which to me is a small price to pay to void your car of any cheap plasticky panels. For a sportier appeal, you can also have some carbon fibre panels integrated into your dashboard and door panel for an extra $500.
We drove the 2015 BMW X6 xDrive35i a few months ago and we said that it had one of the most comfortable interiors in the SUV business. The same goes for the X6 M. In fact, those racing-style bucket seats can be contorted and adjusted in almost every dimension – integrated headrests give it a sporty feel and the backrest is divided into two panels, meaning you can not only tilt the entire backrest fore and aft, but the upper half can adjust independently as well. You seriously have no excuse not to be sitting in the perfect driving position. The backrest even makes use of a hollow recess so that your rear passengers can take a peek at the sweat running down your neck.
You sit very high up in the X6 M with a great panoramic view of the road ahead – you’ll never want to go back to driving your hatchback again. The overly thick rimmed M steering wheel makes a welcome return here, and while some complain it to be too bulky and in-your-face, I love the grip and studded feel it provides. The paddle shifters are solid and a blast to flick around during spirited driving runs. Akin to every other M vehicle, you receive the acne pimple M shifter on the center console along with other BMW familiarities including the rotary dial control and a large widescreen display.
For $4,900, BMW will also equip your X6 M with a Bang & Olufsen speaker system that turns your vehicle into a rolling beat box. But if you don’t plan on using CDs and only listen to FM/AM or stream music from your phone, this is one option you should skip, unless you really fancy that ornament speaker lodged on the center of the dashboard. But if you do opt for it, you’ll also get a free voucher for Bang & Olufsen in-ear headphones.
It’s hard to pick on such a gorgeous yet simple interior, yet the same criticisms apply here as it does on every other “Sport Activity Coupe” we’ve driven before – there’s a lack of back seat headroom and the rear view and blind spots are somewhat hampered by that sloping roof.
If you look at the sales and how much profit the X5 M and X6 M is generating for BMW, it’s a clear case and point that the Sport Activity Coupe is a formula that works. Even the smaller BMW X4 is making a name for itself. And now Mercedes-Benz wants a share in the profits and is currently launching their new GLE63 AMG to combat the likes of the X6 M. A niche once thought to be a dead end is quickly growing, and there are certainly enough lovers of these unpractical SUVs than there are haters. So then begs the question, would you rather have an X6 M or X5 M? We will have a more concrete answer when we test the latter in a month’s time, so stay tuned for that review. Until then, I’ll take an X6 M in Long Beach Metallic Blue please.
型号 Model: 2015 BMW X6 M
顏色 Paint Type: Long Beach Blue Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $108,200
試車售價 Price as Tested: $121,200
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,933
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,909 / 1,989 / 1,689
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,351
引擎 Engine: 4.4L TwinPower Turbo V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 567 hp @ 6,000 - 6,5000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 553 lb-ft. @ 2,200 - 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 16.9 / 12.1 / 14.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport - Front: 285/35ZR21 - Rear: 325/30ZR21