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2010 BMW X6 M

The 2010 BMW X6 M is a wild ride, but who is going to buy it? The X6, which already doesn't sell very well, offers great performance with the 400-hp V-8 in the X6 50i model, which starts at $67,475. BMW demands $89,725 for the X6 M, making it an expensive track toy.

If you're one who is looking for what is surely one of the highest-performance crossovers ever built, however, the 2010 BMW X6 M is a fine choice. Take an already fast crossover and give it the M treatment, and you end up with an extremely fast crossover, one that is capable of beating many sports cars. Despite its size, the X6 M truly is an enthusiast's car. A lot of people will likely have no idea how capable the X6 M is; to them, it will be just another crossover on the road. For those who do know the differences between an X6 M and other X6 models, like the guy in the E30-series BMW M3 who gave me thumbs up, it's definitely something to admire.

The interior of the four-passenger X6 M doesn't differ much from other X6s, either, not that this is a bad thing, since the standard X6 interior is as nice as a 7-series cabin. One noticeable difference, though, is the big, heated, M steering wheel with paddle shifters. BMW does it the right way: the right paddle is for upshifting, and the left paddle is for downshifting, which is the instinctual setup. Although the front seats look great, I found them very hard and uncomfortable after an hour at the wheel, and they don't have as much lateral support as I would expect in a vehicle with this level of cornering capability.

While I'm amazed by the acceleration, cornering, and braking performance of the X6 M, for the asking price, I'd like a little more utility out of my 5324-lb, high-riding crossover. That's why I'm looking forward to driving the X5 M, which has the same powertrain and chassis upgrades, but seats seven and has more cargo space.

Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator

As others have already noted, BMW has done the near impossible in making a huge, heavy, luxurious crossover a genuine performer. Nevertheless, if I had $95,000 burning a hole in my pocket, and wanted both to go fast and haul lots of people and gear, I'd probably buy a Lotus Elise and a Chevrolet Tahoe. Or maybe a BMW M3 and a Dodge Ram. Or a Mazda Miata, a Honda Odyssey, a Camaro SS, and a Suzuki Hayabusa. You get the picture. Sure the X6 M does everything. But for its exorbitant price, you can buy two, even three vehicles that do everything much, much better. Did I mention the fact that every one of the vehicles I listed above gets better fuel economy than the X6 M?

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

This is an astonishing machine. Astonishing price, astonishing performance, astonishingly ill-timed for the current state of our world and our economy. Yet it is an impressive vehicle nonetheless. The level of handling, roadholding, and acceleration in a tall, heavy crossover is otherworldly. I didn't drive the X6 M on a track, but our West Coast editor, Jason Cammisa, has. He says it is surprisingly good in that environment, and its torque-vectoring rear differential does magical things to rotate the X6 M (and its sibling, the X5 M) through corners. For my part, I stormed a few freeway ramps and continually found myself edging over 90 mph on the freeway without intending to.

I was surprised that, at this price, the seats weren't BMW's Comfort Seats and didn't have adjustable thigh bolsters. But once I adjusted them to my preferences, I thought they were quite supportive and comfortable. The headlights are auto-dimming and auto-high-beaming; sometimes they work really well; other times, it takes too long for them to revert to high beams.

For those who follow BMW's M history, the X6 M and the X5 M represent the first time that BMW has offered two things in an M vehicle: all-wheel drive, and a turbocharged engine. That will be more than some purists can stomach. Other performance junkies with the means will find a lot to love here.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

Corporate officials recently announced there will be no M version of the new slopeback 5-series Gran Turismo. That's just as well -- not only am I uncertain of who would want such a beast, but BMW already offers a similar vehicle -- the X6 M.

Yes, I know there's the matter of its SUV underpinnings, tall stature, and 5324-pound curb weight. Truth is, none of that seems to matter, especially once you've tapped the shifter over into "sport" mode and cued up all 555 hp via the "M" button on the steering wheel. This giant chimera manages to bolt down straightaways and carve through apexes in a manner that defies physics while simultaneously warming the atrial chambers of BMW enthusiasts. The comfortable seating for four and sure-footedness in all seasons (or on crumbling Michigan roads) is the icing on the proverbial cake.

Viewed as a performance SUV like Jeep's Grand Cherokee SRT8, the X5 M - with three extra seats and a price tag that's nearly $5000 less expensive - makes more sense. But if you're looking for a five-door road rocket, short of hauling a 5 GT off to Alpina for some expensive modifications, this is your best bet.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

In its dying days, AMC foisted upon us a perversion called the Eagle SX/4. This may have inspired the late, unlamented Pontiac Aztek, which helped seal the excitement division's fate beginning in 2001 (coincidentally the year Bob Lutz arrived to save General Motors).

I cannot imagine why, but BMW picked up the very same high-riding hunchback thread for its X6 "sports activity coupe." Compounding the matter, we now have the X6M high-performance edition, which converts what began as an Eagle into a turkey of epic proportions.

Getting in necessitates a climb up while clearing the awkwardly low door cut. Exiting requires a leap out to clear the extra-wide side-sill extensions.

The combination of a twin-turbo 555-hp V-8 with a well-orchestrated six-speed automatic and a clever all-wheel-drive system launches this blunt, 5257-pound missile most expeditiously - to 60 mph in an impressive 4.2 seconds. Cornering and braking are also exemplary.

I should be very impressed but I'm not because of all the M canons violated by the X6M. Four years ago, when I attended the introductory ceremony for BMW's 5.0-liter V-10 engine (seen in the M5 and M6), the sanctity of those canon principles were clearly affirmed:

  • Thou shalt use only the rear wheels for propulsion.
  • Thou shalt not aspirate engines with superchargers or turbochargers.
  • Thou shalt not equip any M vehicle with an automatic transmission.
  • No truck is worthy of an M badge.

And let me add to that my own fifth commandment: Thou shalt not exceed 4000 pounds of curb weight for any reason short of nuclear conflict.

I am very worried about BMW's new "efficient dynamics" marketing philosophy and how the sacred M badge has been soiled by association with one of the dumbest products in motoring history. Someone high in AMC heaven is laughing uncontrollably.

Don Sherman, Technical Editor

The X6 M is like a Doberman on a leash: if you give it any slack (a boot of the throttle, in this case), it's going to lurch forward hard, leaving you to hang on tight and go along for the ride. The mega-powered goofy-ute pulls incredibly hard with the might of its 555-hp twin-turbo V-8. After cold starts, the engine makes quite a racket, though, and sounds as if the muffler has been removed. Quite the opposite it true, though, as there are four tailpipes, the inner two of which have a cool baffle that opens on demand only. As my colleagues have mentioned, there are numerous other technological touches on display here, from the torque-vectoring differential to the crisp-shifting, paddle-operated six-speed automatic.

The X6 M, unlike the standard X6, also uses a much newer version of iDrive, so it's actually tolerable to operate.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Base price (with destination): $89,725
Price as tested: $93,275

Standard Equipment:
xDrive all-wheel-drive
Xenon auto-leveling adaptive headlights
Rain-sensing windshield wipers
Front and rear parking sensors
Tire pressure monitoring system
16-speaker hi-fi sound system
Bluetooth connectivity
Front and rear side curtain airbags

Options on this vehicle:
Cold weather package - $600
-Heated steering wheel
-Heated rear seats
-Ski bag
Driver assistance package - $1800
-Rearview camera
-Automatic high beams
-Head-up display
Space-saver spare -$150
Comfort access keyless entry - $1000

Key options not on vehicle:
Rear climate package - $700
-4-zone automatic climate control
Premium sound package - $1400
-iPod and USB adapter
-6-disc DVD changer
Active ventilated seat package - $1900
-Front ventilated seats
-Active driver seat
Smartphone integration - $150
Rear seat entertainment - $1700
Satellite radio with 1 year subscription - $350

Fuel economy:
12 / 17 / 14 mpg

Size: 4.4L twin-turbo DI V-8
Horsepower: 555 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 500 lb-ft @ 1500-5650 rpm


6-speed automatic

Weight: 5324 lb

20 x 10 in./20 x 11 in. (front/rear) aluminum alloy wheels
275/40 front and 315/35 rear performance tires

Competitors: Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne Turbo S