2011 BMW X6 M

Let's get this out of the way: I don't like the X6's ungainly styling, Lotus Elise-like rear visibility, or supersize dimensions. That said, this M version hits all the buttons for an enthusiast like myself -- after all, it has 50 more horsepower than the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Sweet!

It felt a little wasteful to drive a 555-horsepower machine at 40 mph, but the X6 M was surprisingly docile in my commute. The engine idles smoothly and is perfectly tractable at low speeds. Even in normal driving, there's a very sports-car-like exhaust note, with gentle burbles and pops each time the transmission shifts. And when you do hurry away from traffic lights, it's shockingly fast. Though the suspension is obviously tuned for high-speed corners on the track, the ride isn't too harsh over crumbling city streets.

The polarizing exterior styling certainly attracts attention -- partly because the X6 is still relatively rare, partly because the size and bold M Sport body kit can't be missed.

That said, I am evidently not the target buyer for this vehicle. Since America lacks autobahns on which to exploit the full 555 ponies, I'd opt for the cheaper, 400-horsepower X6 xDrive50i, which is still plenty quick. And considering that the X6 M starts at $90K, I'd probably buy a BMW M3 instead and keep the change for spare tires. However, there's no getting around how outrageously cool it is to drive a four-seat SUV that can keep up with Corvettes. For that reason alone, the X6 M gets a thumbs-up vote from me.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

"The X6 M is quicker than anything this shape and size has any right to be. Basically, it defies physics." Those are the notes I wrote last May after blasting around New Jersey Motorsports Park in an X6 M. After driving this white test car home, I see no reason to revise my comments: This car is stupidly, awesomely fast. The engine roars. The transmission acts quickly. Push the M button on the steering wheel, and hold on tight.

Regarding the X6's design, I think it looks less peculiar now that the Acura ZDX has been around for a while. The BMW still has some strange, polarizing lines, true, but it offers much more practical packaging than the Acura. It's got more luggage space, a bigger under-floor storage compartment, and provides more spacious, easier-to-enter rear quarters. Plus, it's hard to argue with all that extra horsepower.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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