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2015 BMW X6 M Luxury SUV First Drive and Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
February 7, 2015
3 min. Reading Time
2015 BMW X6 M ・  Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 BMW X6 M ・ Photo by Benjamin Hunting

There have been many dystopian images of the future disseminated through popular culture - movies, books, and television programs - that base their sterile view of the days to come on the triumph of science over humanity. The use of technology to leverage the ideals of perfection and performance at the cost of one's own soul is hardly unique to the clinical tableaus of sci-fi, however: one has only to examine the current crop of super-SUVs, lead by the 2015 BMW X6 M, to see a similar philosophy embodied in steel and glass.

More Human Than Human

I don't want you to get the impression that the redesigned BMW X6 M is in any way a cyborg sent back from the future to erase your genetic signature from the timeline. In fact, the X6 M means you no harm at all - it merely wants to show you the startling capabilities of German engineering when faced with a seemingly impossible task. Specifically, how does one get two tons of luxury habitat from point A to point B if the path between origin and destination has been littered with chicanes, hairpins, and elevation changes?

Clearly, the best answer would be to fold space/time and send the BWM SUV through a wormhole, but until quantum mechanics gives up a few more of her secrets the X6 M has to avail itself of technologies derived from Newtonian physics. Even still, the contempt that BMW's sport-utility development team has for such quaint concepts as mass, gravity, and inertia was on full display as I hustled the hulking X6 M along the challenging Circuit of the Americas race track located just outside of Austin, Texas.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Mechanical Muscle

In the absence of being able to strap a rocket to the roof of the standard X6, BMW's M Division did the next best thing and managed to squeeze 567 horsepower out of the vehicle's standard 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine. When you've got that much muscle on hand, it becomes easier to understand how 5,185 lbs can be accelerated to 60-mph from a standing start in just a tick over four seconds.

Of course, such a gifted power plant would be a recipe for chaos in an overladen automobile like the 2015 BMW X6 M unless it was also paired with the latest in chassis control and traction management technologies, and it's here that the SUV's lab-coated wizardry begins to take full effect. In addition to its eight-speed automatic transmission, the X6 M makes use of an all-wheel drive system (dubbed xDrive) that is overseen by the brand's Dynamic Performance Control system. With the ability to send 100 percent of engine torque (a full 553 lb-ft) to either the front or the rear axles as the situation might warrant, the setup is further enhanced by the vehicle's multi-setting stability control feature and its electronically-adjustable suspension (again, featuring several different modes).

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Thunderbirds Are Go

It's not until you take the 2015 BMW X6 M out of its natural environment (haunting valet stations at fine dining establishments and country clubs across the country) and subject it to the pressures of the racetrack that you truly begin to understand the insulating effects of the SUV's high technology philosophy. Piloting the X6 M down the three-quarter mile back straight at Circuit of the Americas was akin to riding a space shuttle launch into orbit. There was sound, there was fury, and there was little for me to do except sit there behind the wheel with my foot to the floor and let the computers handle all of the work.

It was a similar experience once I reached the hairpin at the end COTA's seemingly interminable acceleration zone. The BMW casually shed at least half of the 143-mph it had gathered and tilted its massive bulk into the left-hander with all the detached competence of a software-guided cruise missile homing inexorably towards its target. Even in M Dynamic Mode - intended to offer the best balance between actual road feel and spinning off the tarmac in flames - the X6 M provided only a modicum of sensation that I was actually moving at an ultra-rapid pace in the form of a gentle drift to the outside of a given corner. Every other aspect of its driving experience was filtered, analyzed, and then synthesized for my enjoyment, with even the vehicle's engine note artificially sweetened before it met my ears.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Future Perfect

There's no resonance with me in discussing the purity of the BMW's driving experience, as automotive sporting tradition has never included sport-utility vehicles or trucks as anything other than a novelty. The 2015 BMW X6 M is undoubtedly fast, relentlessly competent, and incredibly comfortable, all at the same time. What it lacks is driver engagement: the individual behind the wheel is largely ornamental when it comes to the X6 M's ability to turn in exceptionally quick lap times for such a large, tall-riding vehicle.

Is the X6 M a track-ready, high performance SUV? Undoubtedly - it excels in every measurable metric, especially as compared to other, less-gifted people movers on the market. Is it the kind of vehicle that one can make a passionate connection to? The answer is no. Unless you are the type of person whose appreciation of automobiles is akin to an obsession with fantasy baseball, where statistics, figures, and raw data are the coin of the realm, you won't be bonding with BMW's all-too-perfect beast. There is no mechanical heart beating deep within the X6 M's $102,100 chest; instead, there rests a complex bundle of calculations that prove the technological superiority of BMW's engineers and the incisive analytical abilities of its relentless marketing team.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


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