Deride the massive, awkwardly proportioned and tremendously unconventional BMW X6M super-SUV all you want, with its Frankenstein-inspired squareness and imposing stature.
But tell me you do not feel the earth move when the
567-horsepower twin-turbo V8 kicks in, the eight-speed automatic clicks like
tap shoes, and you pass seven vehicles in a half-block-long passing zone,
uphill, at what might have been four times the posted speed limit. Really, it’s
an out-of-body experience.
And flying even more squarely in the face of physics and the
general laws of the universe, this 5,185-pound mass of German metal sticks to
corners and brakes in a competent, completely stoppable fashion. It is indeed
from a place beyond reason.
Sure, the oft-maligned X6 base platform does sorta share the
less-than-subtle shape and aesthetic stance of the made-famous-by-TV Pontiac
Aztek (or, more kindly, the Toyota Prius – like both, the small, upwardly
angled rear window is particularly hard to see out of).
But you get past that pretty quickly when you consider that
the running gear and details are all pretty much the same as the equally
out-of-the-park X5M super-ute: fantastically rigid suspension, the cockpit
fuzzing and the fat-tired hooliganism, all like an M5 on stilts, or maybe
wearing a large box as a Halloween costume.
Are there folks out there desperately seeking the upmost in
scale and performance, in a package that makes the Mercedes-Benz G63 seem
totally rational? Sure, I guess. Now they have a pretty solid option, when
lesser 500-or-so-horsepower machines won’t quite do.
From its menacing face and oversized air-breather grille –
pretty important considering the amount of heat generated by that almost
motorcycle engine-sounding lump under the hood, over-revving each time you
start it up, and spitting out blurts of obscene exhaust noises – the X6M is no
ordinary vehicle. The second layer of grille and air inputs kind of make it
look like two M5s stacked on top of each other.
True to M form, once you slip inside that Alcantara- and
real carbon fiber-lined cabin and settle into seats as brutal and bracing as
those in the Apollo command module, you have the option of micromanaging the
standard mechanical malice in four additional ways, including three degrees of
throttle, suspension and steering input.
Even the shift knob is awfully complicated, requiring some
familiarization with its up, down and side-to-side functionality, but it’s
quite critical considering you’ll probably want to use it or the giant
wheel-mounted paddles to control some of that eight-speed magic on your own.
The car’s ungainly posture and, on my tester, a mix of 285
and 325 21-inch tires, really doesn’t seem to be the right kind of platform for
this much motoring adventure, precise as it can be despite the scale, but
you’ll be quite impressed when it starts happening.
That said, the X6M’s huge footwear is indeed very heavy and
squirrelly during in-town jaunts, the suspension is brutal even in “comfort”
mode and the bursts of throttle, no matter how you try to tone them down,
always leave you seven car lengths ahead at any green light.
That’s also a fantastic thing for anyone who’s spent their
life with less than 567 horsepower on tap. Keep your foot into it and the roar
that accompanies the appearance of triple-digit speeds on the head-up display
can indeed make this a life-changing vehicle. BMW has wisely limited that to
What was most impressive was the engineering that allows the
X6M to carve, not careen, off a tightly curved mountain road – I speak of my
summertime testing here, just to be straight – and the credible way the vehicle
is able to corner, sway, weave, bob, dip, hold and dodge along.
Again, those massive brakes are a huge part of the package,
and I found that judicious manual downshifting also played a big role in
containing any over-excited moments.
But the wonderful thing was the way the X6M’s steering,
contained in one massive and meaty, hand-stitched wheel, becomes ever the more
intuitive, and the big test becomes one of seeing how fast you can actually get
the vehicle going.
It’s all not quite anyone’s definition of normal. I think
that’s the point, and it’s all quite well done, once you embrace the vehicle’s
2015 BMW X6M
Powertrain: 567-HP 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 engine; eight-speed
EPA figures: 14 city, 19 highway
BMW’s otherworldly X6M blends power and prowess
by Andy Stonehouse :: posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2016