BMW Releases Details About X5 M and X6 M Ahead of L.A. Debut
The Super Sports Activity Vehicle Lives On
German automaker BMW showed off the newest generation of the M-branded X5 and X6 today. Based on the third-generation X5 "Sports Activity Vehicle" and the second-generation X6 "Sports Activity Coupe," both vehicles will be big, powerful, and expensive.
The super-SUVs, will debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show next month. They could best be described as an evolution of the previous-gen X5 M and X6 M, carefully refining those vehicles’ best attributes while minimizing some of their worst ones. Pricing goes up slightly, with the new X5 M starting at $99,650 and the X6 M starting at $103,750.
BMW’s in-house tuning arm, M GmbH, fits both with the same twin-turbocharged TwinPower 4.4L V-8 producing 567 hp, an increase of 20 hp. More interesting, the engines produce 50 more lb-ft of torque, at 553. That torque is available from 2,200 and 5,000 rpm, which means this will likely be a very tractable, flexible engine. Pairing the TwinPower with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system is an 8-speed automatic transmission that M claims features similar performance as its dual-clutch transmissions found in other M cars. Expect 0-60 times of four seconds or less. Unreal.
BMW claims that the new powertrain combo also cuts fuel consumption by 20 percent compared to the previous X5 M and X6 M. If that’s true, expect EPA ratings of about 13/18 mpg city/highway. That’s still mighty thirsty, especially since the similarly powerful Range Rover Sport Supercharged and Porsche Cayenne Turbo can break into the 20s if driven gently. Even the much cheaper Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT should be able to beat the X5 M's fuel economy ratings, although that vehicle is somewhat less quick.
Keeping the BMWs glued to the road are staggered Michelin Pilot Super Sport UHP tires, with a massive 325 section-width at the rear. The tires are optimized for their respective duties, with the rear tires specifically selected for traction and stability and the front tires for steering precision and lateral stability. A double-wishbone front suspension and multilink independent rear suspension do their best to keep the tires firmly planted on the tarmac.
The exterior of both vehicles has been altered slightly from their respective standard models. As you'd expect, grilles, splitters, side sill extensions, and rear spoilers festoon both SUVs, with larger, sportier wheels revealing huge brakes. They certainly aren't subtle. The X5 M and X6 M interiors also feature updates, with more heavily bolstered seats and M-specific gauges, as well as special switches for the M-tuned stability and transmission controls. A lovely thick-rimmed steering wheel, another M trademark, makes an appearance as well.
While it may seem silly to think about, BMW says that its new Directional Stability Control (DSC) has two settings that let the X5 M and X6 M actually drift. The sight of a drifting SUV is one that previously was limited to dirt roads and snow-covered parking lots, but lately, high-performance high-riders like the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne have proved that utility vehicles can act like sports cars on dry pavement too. We’re OK with this, as the world could always use a little more drift.
The previous X5 M and X6 M were a significant departure for M. They represented the brand’s first turbocharged offerings, first all-wheel drive vehicles, and first X-branded M cars. They were also the first M cars in over a decade to be available with a traditional automatic transmission.
The times, they are a-changin’.