Sunday, June 14, 2009

The M That Would Never Exist- The 2010 BMW X6 M

To wear the BMW M badge, is an honor. It means the best performance that BMW has to offer- arguably the highest performance vehicles in the world. To be applied with the trademark blue, purple and red-hashed, slanted “M”, (M for Motorsports) the BMW was a purists’ machine with rear-wheel-drive and a manual transmission as standard. The engineers in Bavaria were animate, often protective of the criteria. The best handling, enhanced styling and limited, hand-finished batch productions made a BMW M special- and not for the common driver. They’re visceral, purpose-built machines.

But a lot has changed at BMW lately. The accountants and ad men have clearly taken-over. The M-brand has been expanded to reach enthusiasts of many varieties. Though not watered-down per se, the BMW M has reached the unthinkable. An all-wheel-drive crossover SUV.

Though BMW declares the new X6 an SAC, a “Sports Activity Coupe,” it shares the traits of both a sports sedan and a light truck- it’s a sporty crossover. It’s not really a coupe, but it does share the bold styling, wider stance, two-plus-two seating, and sloping roofline of one. It has four doors. (Is it a coupe? You tell me.) Maybe a diluted coupe for people who appreciate limited rear-seat headroom. It’s lower and wider than an X5 SUV, with the large 20-inch sports alloy wheel package of one.

The X6 M has all-wheel-drive with Dynamic Performance Control, a fancy, enhanced all-wheel traction control system that works under most all conditions- both accelerating, decelerating and while braking. It even allows sporty driving, generally not permitted under typical dynamic traction-control systems- which are safety, not performance enhanced.

The M-version of the X6 adds accentuated styling with a dramatic body kit, M-sports suspension, and a twin-scroll, twin turbo-charged direct injected aluminum V8 putting out about 555 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Also standard is the only transmission available- a six-speed automatic with aluminum paddle-shifters on the steering wheel. This makes the 2010 BMW X6 M the first and only M-badged model with all-wheel-drive and an automatic transmission as standard in the brand’s entire history. The car that the engineers swore would never exist- now does.

But why? Two answers- the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, both highly potent, all-wheel-drive grocery-hauling monsters with over 500 horses each- the new BMW X6 M fits right in, but adds an edge with sportier styling- after all it’s a coupe, right? Yeah. Right.

Performance is (not surprisingly) high- sports car handling, the factory claims zero-to-sixty in just under five seconds with exhilarating performance on all roads; however, with the 20-inch high-performance rubber and wheel package as standard- I wouldn’t be driving the new X6 M in bad weather or off-road- it’s not an real SUV.

So what is it? It’s a sporty crossover, the likes of which have never been seen before, bringing the BMW Motorsports brand to a league of drivers who could only dream of harnessing an ultra high-performance BMW. Mostly drivers who can’t drive a stick-shift; but seriously- the X6 M defines high-performance crossovers yet defies the classic BMW M-performance formula or mantra. Again, the accountants and ad-men have clearly mastered this battle. After over 30 years of making M-enhanced BMWs for purists, the X6 M is an M for even “M-ommy” to take to the “superM-arket.”

At around $90,000 and up, will it prosper? Probably. For the driver who wants something different, the new X6 M defines different. For the enthusiast that has to have the newest, fanciest high-performance BMW (aren’t all BMWs high-performance?!) the X6 M is it.

So what’s the next BMW to don the M-Power script on its valve-covers? What else? An X5 M, which is set to debut with the X6 M this fall. The X5 M will be the first Motorsports SUV in the BMW’s history. The X6 M will just have to settle for being a crossover. A bridge to something different. And it’s a coupe. Yeah. Right. Sphere: Related Content
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