A 555bhp uber-SUV, costing £77k? Not highest on the wish-list of today’s buyers. That’s why BMW is estimating sales in the tens, rather than hundreds. This is a car for China and the Far East.
So, why are we getting it? Well, because every incremental sale is worthwhile. At £77k, dealers will only have to sell a couple to make a decent return.
More importantly, it’s also a superb halo car. BMW brings M magic to the X range? With its sister car, the X5M, the company just so happens to have a direct rival to a Porsche – the Cayenne Turbo.
Visually, to the (admittedly already-dramatic) SUV-coupe style of the X6, BMW has not gone mad. It’s added 20-inch wheels, four exhausts, M3-style door mirrors and a front bumper with absolutely massive air intakes.
In the E30 M3-esque red of the test car, with colour-keyed lower half, it was nevertheless anything but subtle. Just what its target clientele will want.
These buyers are not a fickle bunch, though, expects BMW. All this show has to be well-supported by go. So, the company has spent two-and-a-half years developing the famous M division’s first off-roader. Making it at all was a controversial move. If they were to do it, they wanted to do it right.
The engine is the centrepiece. It’s got a mighty 555bhp, coupled with 679Nm of torque. With a clever new exhaust manifold and twin-turbo arrangement, the 4.4-litre V8 hurtles to 62mph in just 4.7secs. It’s limited to 155mph – but, for a little extra, you can have this removed. Then it will do 171mph. That’s fast.
What’s more, with xDrive all-wheel traction, it’s child’s play to deploy. Simply mash the throttle, let the (slightly fussy) six-speed auto do all the work, and literally explode up the road.
The sound isn’t as dramatic as you’d expect, but the effect most certainly is. This car has serious go. From outside, all the turbo rush and exhaust splatter sounds almost war-like.
But has BMW been able to make an SUV handle as an M should? Well, dealers should not expect typical M customers. An M3 buyer will give them a hard time, as they’ll know literally everything about the car. X6M customers will be less committed, but just as keen to go fast.
The drive has been set up accordingly. It’s not anything like as involving as an M3; the ride is fine, steering light at low speeds, noise levels subdued. But the clever underpinnings mean it’s got staggering grip, real accuracy and the sort of straight-running confidence that means high speeds are not to be feared.
No, it’s not ‘sporty’ like traditional Ms, but it was never going to be. It is, however, highly capable and, we’d wager, spot on target for the people it’ll draw.
Do we admire it? Yes. Do we love it? No. We’d much rather have the 35d we enjoyed for a long test recently. It was frugal by comparison, just as comfy and completely competent.
But then we’re being sensible. The X6M is not really a car for us, so it doesn’t matter. Dealers won’t have loads foisted on them, either, so will be able to exploit it for what it is – a high-visibility nutter car to top a pretty batty range.
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