X6 M

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2020 BMW X6 M Overview

With the platform of a midsize crossover SUV, the body of a “sports activity coupe,” and the speed of a high-powered sports car, the BMW X6 M doesn’t fit into one neat category. It has been a strong seller for BMW, and it should continue to be as it gets even quicker for 2020. The new third-generation debuts with more comfort, more speed, and better looks.

The X6 and X6 M are essentially the same as the X5 and X5 M but with a chunk of the roof cut down for a more distinctive profile. Although that sloped roofline looks sportier, it reduces interior space and adds more to the price tag.

The engine in the 2020 X6 M is the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 also found in the M5 sedan, which means 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque shifting through an 8-speed M Steptronic transmission and active M Differential. That’s a gain of 33 more horses over the previous X6 M, and the torque curve is significantly wider for more usable power. Check the box for the available Competition trim and you get an extra 17 hp, which is enough to drop a tenth of a second off the standard versions 3.8-second 0-60 time. Sipping premium fuel, the X6 M will return 16 mpg city, 22 highway, and 18 combined.

An optional M Driver’s Package raises the electronically limited 155-mph top speed to 177 mph and gets you entry into a driving skills class at one of BMW’s Performance Centers. One is in South Carolina and the other is in California.

The suspension is by a five-link setup in the rear and double wishbones up front, and the M Steptronic transmission features three settings that adjust shift speed and sharpness. Alloy 21-inch wheels with staggered tires are standard on the Competition trim, and the disc brakes are cross-drilled and vented at both ends. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive (AWD) system only drives the rear wheels in most situations but puts power to the front when it detects more traction is necessary. A Track driving mode comes standard on the Competition trim. It deactivates distracting driver-assist features and comes with knee padding on each side for taking sharp corners. The X6 M’s dual-branch exhaust system can also adjust the exhaust note with a control located on the center console.

The X5 and X6 have premium, pleasing interiors even in standard form, and the X6 M is even better. A 12.3-inch center display houses BMW’s iDrive 7 operating system and comes standard, as does a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Carbon-fiber trim adorns the interior, and the sill plates are illuminated. Available extras include a rear-seat entertainment package, a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound stereo, and full Merino leather. The Competition version adds premium leather as standard. Interior space is essentially the same as the old X6 M aside from a little more headroom and a little more cargo room, but of course it’s noticeably less than the equivalent X5. Cargo space behind the back seat is 27.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 59.6 with them folded, which is 6.5 and 12.7 less than the X5, respectively.

Standard safety features include frontal-collision warning with pedestrian warning and city-collision mitigation, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and speed-limit information. On the options list is a package with lane-keep assist, extended traffic-jam assist, evasion aid, and a package with adaptive cruise control that will work all the way up to 130 mph.

Both the X5 M and X6 M aren’t just SUVs with a loud exhaust, big engine, and an M badge. They’re thoroughly engineered performance machines that will roast tires and outrun many proper sports cars while still carrying a small family and their bags. It’s not a common combination, but not an entirely unique one, either. Other premium carmakers have their own sporty SUVs, including the Audi SQ7, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and Mercedes GLE 63 AMG. All are worth considering.

Updated

Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.

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