The standard BMW X6 follows a formula that shouldn’t work: Squeeze the X5 crossover into coupe-like body that limits the cargo capacity, hike up the sticker price by at least $6,000, and then offer it to a smaller audience.
2015 BMW X6 M Review
Enter the "M" Model
After swallowing that Kool-Aid, the high-performance 2016 BMW X6 M appears even more ridiculous. Upgraded compared to its more ordinary sibling, it boasts 500-plus horsepower under the hood, massive brakes, and track-ready suspension – yet the automaker knows that few owners will ever take it to a track or find an opportunity to exercise all that power.
Circuit of the Americas (COTA) Road Course
Apparently, these curiosities have worked for BMW, because the X6 M is returning in all its glory for a second generation. I headed to Austin, Texas, to drive the X6 M on the 3.41-mile Circuit of the Americas (COTA) road course and see if the next generation of this automotive oddity makes any more sense than did the previous model.
The 2015 X6 M rides the next generation of the platform that underpins the X5 and X6. It’s no stiffer than the last platform, but BMW has optimized it by reinforcing mounting points, using more rigid bearings and firmer springs, dropping the ride height 10 mm, and giving the front wheels more camber. The ventilated steel braked discs also add 20-percent more swept area.
The twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 gets 12 horsepower and 20 pound-feet of torque, for totals of 567 and 553, respectively, thanks to better breathing. BMW also has improved cooling.
Drives Like a Sports Car
All that work has made the X6 M even more track-capable. It drives like a sports car, only everything happens about four inches higher off the ground. That gives it some lean in turns, but the X6 M transfers its weight quickly, takes a nice set, and powers through corners predictably. The 5,185-pound curb weight makes it want to understeer if you charge too hard into a turn or attempt to steer through a sweeper while accelerating, but these issues can be controlled by braking enough to control the speed and get the nose down to give the front tires more bite. Those brakes, by the way, are downright heroic. They handled a whole day of braking from as much as 150 mph at COTA without fading — I’ve only seen that type of performance from carbon ceramic rotors!
On the Street
On the street, the X6 M can be a handful. The power (0 to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds) is intoxicating, but it’s best to keep the engine in Comfort mode to avoid jack-rabbit throttle response. The suspension tends to jiggle over bumpy roads and pound over potholes, so you’ll also want to keep the suspension in Comfort mode. Put it in Sport or Sport Plus, and you’ll liquefy your kidneys on a bad road.
Inside, the X6 M is quite comfortable. The materials are top notch, the front seats are well bolstered for aggressive driving, and the three-passenger second row has decent legroom provided nobody front or rear is exceptionally tall. The coupe-like roofline gives the X6 only six fewer cubic feet of space than the X5, leaving it with 59.7 cubic feet, about the same as a compact crossover.