No argument can be brokered that we do not live in an automotive enthusiast’s gilded age, where even big SUVs can be ordered track-ready from the factory, boasting performance numbers on par with exceptional sports cars like Porsche 911s and Chevrolet Corvettes.
By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi
We’ve already forgotten what the world was like before 5200-pound utilities delivered sub-four-second zero-to-60-mph times. Because yes, that’s another barrier broken in this decade of ridiculously escalating horsepower, thanks to BMW’s M-badged SUVs.
In developing a successor to the original X6 M, BMW clearly was focused on the numbers, which are downright amazing. For starters there’s that 60-mph sprint, which takes just 3.7 seconds. Or put the X6 M on a drag strip where it will run the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds at 115 mph.
Both outpace the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S coupe, the X6 M’s new archrival. It takes the X6 M a tick or two for its twin turbochargers to start force-feeding all 4.4 liters of V-8, but once they do, the 567 peak horsepower pushes you back in the seat like an NFL running back’s stiff-arm. The new eight-speed automatic clicks through the gears until the X6 M reaches a governed top speed of 160 mph.
Skidpad performance is perhaps the most awe-inducing, at 1.01 g. All that grip is generated thanks to some of the largest rolling stock available outside of the supercar realm: 10-inch-wide front wheels shod with extra-load Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires sized 285/35ZR-21 and 11.5-inch-wide rear wheels wearing 325/30ZR-21s. Those tires also help haul the X6 M to a stop from 70 mph in only 152 feet. That’s on par with BMW’s own M3, which weighs 1600 pounds less. In fact, all of the X6 M’s test numbers are roughly equivalent to those of BMW’s compact performance sedan.
Besides performing like its smaller M-badged sibling, the X6 M shares some of that car’s shortcomings. Steering feel in the SUV is similarly lacking, although with differing expectations given its much larger size, the calibration here is actually more appropriate. The engine sound, however, is just as artificial as in other BMW M products that use the company’s pipe-it-in-through-the-stereo technology. While we don’t expect a turbocharged V-8 to sound as good as a flat-plane-crank V-8 any more than we expect it to sound like a flathead V-8, the engine in the X6 M doesn’t sound much like a V-8 at all.
The biggest demerit to the X6 M comes in its ride quality, which ranges from firm to unacceptably, jarringly firm, depending on how its air suspension is adjusted. On roads that are less than perfect, the head toss gets to be enough that wearing a helmet as protection against the suede headliner seems like a not-terrible idea. And then you’d be ready for the track, which is where the X6 M best acquits itself. Not that we imagine actually spotting any at track days.
With a $103,050 base price, the X6 M’s window sticker is as extravagant as its test sheet. Save the snarky jokes about this being a “German Aztek”—they weren’t all that funny when the first X6 showed up nearly a decade ago. And today, when the automotive world has gone all-in on both horsepower and crossovers, what can we expect but things like the X6 M? This sort of automotive indulgence has never made much sense, but that’s exactly the point!!.
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