A BMW executive takes a large lump of money and a small lump of hallucinogens and hands both to a group of engineers with the following instruction: "Go nuts." Sometime later -- after the passing of key statutes of limitations -- the BMW X6 M appears.

The hulking and incredibly fast red aberration you see here provides a rolling look into their madness. The engine, for example. BMW has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, but these engineers figured 400 horsepower simply wouldn't do. So on went new pistons, camshafts, turbochargers, and a modified cooling system, amongst other things. The engineers finally settled on 555 horsepower, a number so convenient they might as well have called it "enough." They then programmed in a launch control system, because what good is a 5181-pound SUV if it can't accelerate like a Cadillac CTS-V?

"Wait a second," you might think. "What about the Cayenne Turbo?" Yes, both are monstrously silly, twin-turbo SUVs. But lo, the BMW is quicker. Reaching 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 110.8 mph, the X6 M dismisses that comparatively sensible Porsche by three-tenths. How? With the transmission in manual mode, all that's required from the BMW driver is that they press the inconspicuous "M" button on the steering wheel and flatfoot both pedals. And when the checkered flag appears on the dash, they sidestep the brake. As the all-wheel drive jettisons the X6 M from its place of rest, the transmission takes care of the upshifts -- the driver is merely along for the ride. (Helpfully, the owner's manual suggests that you not use launch control when towing a trailer.)

The trouble now is you're going rather fast, and the X6 M still weighs 5181 pounds. Fortunately, BMW engineers realized that with a weight-to-power ratio similar to a Challenger SRT8, the X6 M will need to stop at some point, preferably before anyone gets hurt. Well, the Corvette ZR1 has some rather big brakes and stops pretty well, they must've figured, so being bigger should be better. On went rotors measuring 15.6 inches up front and 15.2 inches out back. Tires, they also decided, might as well match the preposterous brakes. At 315/35, the X6 M's rear tires are wider than the Cayenne Turbo's (295/35), 911 Turbo's (305/30), and every production Mustang we've tested. Should you want to go full Charlie Sheen, BMW also offers 21-inch, 285/35 front and 325/30 rear tires, in black, for a paltry $6495.

The results are crazier. We recorded a 106-foot stop from 60 mph, the shortest stopping distance we've ever seen from an SUV. Around our figure eight, the X6 M's fastest 25.1-second lap may lose to the Cayenne Turbo by 0.3 second, but it still matches the last M3 Competition we tested. At 0.91 average longitudinal g, the X6 M falls in line, again, with the CTS-V.

Driving it quickly is a maniacal experience. The rate at which the X6 M accelerates from a turn is best not to think about, because you're already overshot the next corner by the time you've computed it. Stomping the left pedal is akin to throwing a parachute, and, once you've shed enough speed, turning in presents a nimbleness that simply defies logic. Unless pressed aggressively, which we never recommend on public roads, the X6 M's chassis doesn't offer many cornering solutions beyond understeer. But fortunately, when you reach this point, you're going so fast that the thought of a four-wheel drift in an SUV is, well, disconcerting. Nevertheless, you're laughing entire time, because it doesn't make sense. It's Heath Ledger's Joker placing a pen on the table and asking, "How 'bout a magic trick?"

The X6 M is not a dancer. It's a brute. Its stiff ride can make your right foot dial in unwanted throttle adjustments on the sensitive gas pedal over rough pavement, causing the X6 M to buck back and forth with power. Sadly, the most unappealing part is the sound. Dry and without body, the exhaust note sounds like the first copy of "Gran Turismo" being played through a set of iPod earbuds. The X6 M should shoot flames.

Yet, as utterly capable and continually surprising as it may be, the X6 M nonetheless earns the endless ire of Very Serious Enthusiasts, mostly because its sole relation to the E30 M3 is that both have badges that are often confused with spinning propellers, and engines that make noise when turned on. But as obese and functionality absent (for an SUV) as it may be, we should celebrate the X6 M's madness. It's more appropriate for "Monty Python's Flying Circus" than reality, and yet here it is.

Stay nutty, engineers, stay nutty...


2011 BMW X6 M
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE Twin-turbo 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 268.2 cu in/4395 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 9.3:1
POWER (SAE NET) 555 hp @ 6000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
REDLINE 7000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 9.3 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.91:1/2.70:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multi-link, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 19.5:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 3.0
BRAKES, F;R 15.6-in vented disc; 15.2-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 10.0 x 20-in; 11.0 x 20-in, cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R 275/40R20 106W; 315/35R20 110W Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 115.5 in
TRACK, F/R 65.4/65.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 192.0 x 78.1 x 66.3 in
TURNING CIRCLE 42.0 ft
CURB WEIGHT 5181 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 53/47 %
SEATING CAPACITY 4
HEADROOM, F/R 38.3/37.2 in
LEGROOM, F/R 40.4/35.9 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 59.9/57.0 in
CARGO VOL BEH F/R 59.7/25.6 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.3 sec
0-40 2.2
0-50 3.0
0-60 4.0
0-70 5.3
0-80 6.7
0-90 8.2
0-100 10.2
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.1
QUARTER MILE 12.5 sec @ 110.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 106 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.91 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.1 sec @ 0.75 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1950 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $90,075
PRICE AS TESTED $95,275
TRUE CAR TRUEVALUE PRICE* $00,000
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/Unlimited
FUEL CAPACITY 22.5 gal
EPA CITY/HWY ECON 12/17 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 281/198 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 1.40 lb/mile
MT FUEL ECONOMY 14.6 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium
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