By Andrew Muzamhindo
The BMW X6 M is unapologetically brutal yet luxurious at the same time. The latest version is more refined but still fights to defy Sir Isaac Newton every step of the way.
When one thinks of safety innovations, one immediately starts to think of Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.
Volvo gave us the 3-point seat-belt and made it free of patent, in order that the concept could be freely used to save lives in other products. Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class paved the way with the introduction of crumple zones and padded interiors (amongst many others). BMW has given us the X6. While the X6 is not necessarily the safety pioneer, it did forge the way for the SAC, or Sports Activity Coupe, because clearly, SUV is rather mainstream. In short, it is an SUV with sportier proportions and design language.
I have consistently struggled to see the point of the X6. When BMW introduced it to the world in 2008, there was some concern around how it would affect the market. Would it cannibalise the existing X5?
Would the entire concept fall flat on its face? The answer was a resounding ‘No’ on both accounts. So popular was the X6 that it spawned a performance model, the X6 M, and the rest as they say, is history.
Now in its third incarnation, the BMW X6 M is more powerful than ever. It offers blistering performance and opulent luxury for those with the pockets deep enough to engage in such delectable festivities.
BMW’s ever-increasing grille size has troubled some folks. You can rest easy though, knowing that the execution on the latest G06 version of the BMW X6 M Competition is not as terrible as what you will find on the X7. Their ample size is offset by the large air dams in the lower section of the front bumper with the large central opening flanked by two aggressive-looking apertures.
Much of the front-end detail is lost when one chooses the Black Sapphire Metallic paint option. Ordinarily, the gloss black kidney grilles, slats and edging would contrast beautifully, but it sort of disappears in the dark finish. It is stealthily tucked away.
The back half of the new G06 X6 M is a sleeker, angular affair than before. It is highlighted by LED taillight elements that add an air of sinister intent. Subtle winglets on the upper roofline and decklid allude to the performance prowess of the X6 M. Once again, styling cues are hidden by the dark paint, such as the lower diffuser element that is flanked by four, large-bore tailpieces for the exhaust system.
In my opinion, this still does not prevent the X6 M from being a ridiculous exercise in frivolous extravagant design. If you want a coupe, go buy one. If you desire an SUV, get it. But for goodness sake why try to mix the two?
Interior & Space
Step inside and a conflicting blend of lightweight carbon fibre and luxurious heavy red leather and Alcantara greets you. While initially polarising, one soon embraces the cockpit and all that it has to offer. The options carbon fibre trim in our test model contrasted with the Merino Sakhir Orange leather (do not be fooled, it is quite red, or perhaps I’m getting colour blind?) which was only broken up by highlight stitching and brushed aluminium strips.
The cabin is a comfortably familiar place and all the usually BMW M controls find their home in the places one expects to find them.
Borrowing from the BMW M5, the X6 M steering wheel has similar M1 and M2 toggles for customisable drive modes, allowing you to switch between two presets at, well, the push of a button. Ergonomics are once again, as is to be expected. The M Sport seats do a splendid job of keeping you in place as you press on to your destination.
Space in the rear is quite adequate. The X6’s design inherently encroaches on rear headroom and boot space.
580-litres are on offer in the X6 M and compared to the 650-litres available in the X5 M. The differences are visibly noticeable. With the rear seats folded, the X6 M gives you 1530-litres, whereas you get 1850 from the X5 M. If space is your concern, then the X5 is decidedly the one to go for.
Comfort & Convenience
There is definitely no shortage of tech in the BMW X6 M. The occupants will benefit from the iDrive 7.0 infotainment system with its 12.3-inch screen while the driver will revel in the display offered by the Live Cockpit Professional.
Bowers & Wilkins reproduces the cabin entertainment via their Diamond Surround Sound system (an optional extra to the tune of R71 700). The system now supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone integration with the former being linked wirelessly. Multizone climate control allows all the passengers to travel in comfort, no matter how fussy they are.
This is the part that you are really here for: the performance. The latest G06 X6 M Competition is more powerful than ever before and thanks to the 460 kW and 750 Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, the X6 M competition will not disappoint. The X6 M was the first M-Division vehicle to be fitted with xDrive and that trend continues, even down to the new M-Division sedans.
You will find the latest rear-wheel biased M xDrive system helping propel the X6 M to 100 km/h from a standstill in only 3.8-seconds.
I recall my first experience with this model, several years ago with the 2nd-generation — and aptly-coded F16 — in regular, vanilla M trim. I distinctly remember how, when you planted your right foot down, the X6 M charged ahead in an attempt to headbutt the horizon.
To this day I am still perplexed by the concept. The millions spent on trying to make a 2.3-tonne SUV go, stop and turn in this fashion is counterintuitive. Anyone who builds race cars will tell you that weight is the enemy and in order to make the most of your power and handling reserves, you should make as light as possible.
Thus, the engineering behind the X6 M is nothing short of phenomenal.
The X6 M handles exceptionally well if somewhat taught in its compliance. It is fitted with adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers and is complemented by active roll stabilization, M Servotronic steering and Dynamic Stability Control.
Paired with the sticky Michelin tyres, you could swear that you are behind the wheel of a more svelte sedan.
Road, Sport, and Track modes allow you to adjust various parameters of the performance output, from the engine throttle response, steering weight, suspension compliance and more for the desired feedback and response you require for the task at hand.
BMW claims that the X6 M will only consume 12.5 litres of the flammable stuff for every 100 km that you drive, but this is laughably optimistic. The fact of the matter is that the power delivery is so intoxicating that you will revel in any chance you get to prod the loud pedal, and sending the fuel consumption figures skyrocketing.
The BMW X6 M is as safe as it is quick and there is no shortage of driver assistance systems and supplementary safety systems. You will get 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, Lane departure warning with Lane Keep Assist, Blindspot monitoring and a host of other safety features. The heads-up display allows for various elements to be displayed in the driver’s line of sight, including traffic signs posted for speed limits. Automatic headlights and wipers are standard, as are adaptive LED headlights. Park distance control with surround cameras keep you safe and help avoid foolish bumps but if you wish to hand it over to the vehicle, the X6 M Competition features Park Assist as well.
If you absolutely have to combine the performance with something that looks like Bowser from the Marios Bros, you will have to fish in the pond with contains the Mercedes-Benz GLE 63 S Coupé, Audi RS Q8, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupé. If your sensitivities return, just look at the BMW X5 M competition or anything in the Land Rover Range Rover stable.
Try as hard as I might, I just cannot come to terms with this combination of weight and performance, especially when cloaked in the oxymoronic 4-door coupé SUV format. Yes, it does what it says on the tin (and then some). You are bound to get enough praise to inflate your ego to stratospheric proportions. I most certainly will not blame you if you can afford to do that.
The X6 M Competition is a great car for some. Unfortunately, it just does not do it for not for me.