2011 BMW X6 M

The history books in our library tell us that the M in M GmBH stands for Motorsport, but in the case of the X6 M, it may as well stand for Mad. I can't think of a single rational reason to build a 555-horsepower, 5300-pound SUV that rockets off a standing start in a manner that would make Wernher von Braun proud.

This car's performance metrics are as insane as its entire premise. 0-60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds seems impossible for such a burly beast until, that is, you push that magic 'M' button, slap the shifter into 'sport,' and bury the accelerator pedal into the plush carpeting. What seems to be an ungainly, unusual-looking SUV suddenly springs to life, and slams occupants -- all four of them -- firmly against their seatbacks. Large brakes and bespoke suspension tuning help keep the X6 M in check; a good thing, considering you'll quickly run out of road at a pace like that.

Complaints? A few, including the truncated cargo space, two-place rear bench (why not three?), and unusual exterior styling. Perhaps the only fault I found that couldn't be resolved by opting instead for the X5 M lies with the 6-speed automatic. It's smooth and remarkably quick, but during my drive it perpetually emitted a very un-BMWish gear whine. I don't recall that from the example I drove for a weekend last year.

We can try and rationalize this vehicle all we want, but the fact of the matter is it, and this niche segment, is utterly mad. So too is the money you'll have to drop for one: pricing starts at $90,075, and given the typical BMW option structure, it's easy to push that figure above the $100k mark. Think that's nuts? A Porsche Cayenne Turbo S starts around $106,000.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

The BMW X6M is so far removed from my automotive interests that I struggle to issue judgment on it. Yes, everything my colleagues have said is accurate. It moves with surprising speed and agility and handles impossibly well for its size and heft. But no matter how amazing or how unlikely the X6M is, in my eyes, it's a comical hyperbole of excess.

I recognize the demand for high-riding SUVs, vehicular style statements, and performance cars, but I cannot bring myself to believe that there are more than a dozen people who want all three at once. It seems to me that anyone considering the X6M could tolerate the measly X6 xDrive50i and its 5.2-second sprint to 60 mph and still find the budget for a real performance car -- something with a center of gravity lower than that of Seattle's Space Needle. BMW's X6M is a seriously impressive performer, but that's not enough in my book to justify its existence. Brute-force engineering provides little driving joy and is an inelegant solution for an M car.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

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