By on August 12, 2015


2015 BMW X6 M

4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V-8 with direct injection and variable valve control (567 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 2,000-5,500 rpm)8-speed M Sport automatic

14 city/19 highway/16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.8 mpg combined, 60 percent highway, 40 percent asshat (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Driver Assistance Plus – $1,900; Executive Package – $4,500; Enhanced Bluetooth and smartphone – $500.

Base Price:
$103,050 w/ $950 destination charge
As Tested Price:
$109,950 w/ $950 destination charge

For most people who find themselves burdened with the choice between fast and big: Salud, you’ve made it somewhere. For the small number of people who scoff at those physical encumbrances: pay your taxes, please. You’re using the road more than the rest of us. 

Imagine, if you can, a Venn diagram of two relatively equal circles representing a traditional buyer’s decision between two cars that, everything else being equal, represent the physical problem of mass and its direct effect on velocity. Two unrelated sets of realities — speed and size — very rarely converge in the physical world, unless those sets are colored Castrol red, Bavarian blue and of course, purple, I guess.

I’m making this point because the BMW X6 M seems, well, kind of pointless. On paper, the big SUV doesn’t scream that it wants to be taken off road (and dent those 21-inch wheels?!) nor does it seem like it wants to go that fast. After all, 5,185 pounds is large enough to have its own weather system.

The curve toward the speed of light, Albert Einstein taught us, gets exponentially steeper toward the top because moving any mass closer to the speed of light requires infinitely greater energy, but I’m not sure that Einstein ever gazed at BMW’s 4.4-liter, twin-scrolling turbocharged V-8 lump under the hood of the X6 M.


The mill, which is new despite having the same displacement as the old engine, outputs 567 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque, up 12 horsepower and 53 pound-feet from the last generation. The subdued symphony of turbos and pounding pistons rockets the two-and-a-half ton machine up to 60 mph in about four seconds. Yikes.

Married to a traditional 8-speed automatic, the X6 M swaps cogs fast enough to keep up with its angry motor. The decision to use a normal torque converter instead of a dual-clutch box makes sense for two reasons: first, takeoff is much smoother in the traditional automatic; and second, there’s virtually no benefit to shaving milliseconds in a car that has no business at the track anyway.

Yes, yes, I’ve seen and heard the “can,” but astride the X6 M’s massive shoes and hulking 5,000-pound mass, one really ponders “should.” Chewing through the X6 M’s wide, 325-millimeter rubbers in the rear is no pleasure; you’re defying physics to catch up with the pack, not mastering the machinery.

Since BMW started applying its M badges — and presumably M mechanicals — to SUVs in the States in 2009, more than 20,000 examples have rolled off the lots and on to the streets. That’s hardly commonplace, but it is brisk for a series of cars that cost six figures to start — the X6 M starts at $103,050. The X6 M has company too: Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo, Range Rover’s coming SVR, Maserati’s upcoming unnamed SUV, and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT8 (and likely Trackhawk) all play in the super-sized performance SUV category for near-to-makes-no-difference $100,000.

The X6 M will play ball with them all, if only because its engine qualifies as one of the engineering marvels of the known universe.


All of those new competitors forced BMW’s hand to remake the X6 M a little faster than it would have liked, I’m guessing.

You could be forgiven for confusing the second generation from looking pretty similar to the first. This year’s car is barely longer, wider or higher than the outgoing generation, and the 115.5-inch wheelbase is the same. From the side, the two cars are nearly identical — except for the larger wheels, which were 20-inch shoes last time around. This year’s X6 M sports an updated front fascia with a classier grille and sharper snout. Around back, the rear haunches have been overemphasized and it’s squat, quad pipes in the back relay the engine’s quiet riot to the outside world. The wider arches, deeper chin and shouty pipes hint for bystanders at what the impossibly wide tires confirm: the X6 M is a wholly different beast altogether.

If you’re looking for something practical, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for something that looks completely different on the road — well, here’s your steed.

If you asked me what was different from the last generation without much time to prepare, I’d say the rear quarter is the only thing new on the surface. A week later, I still feel the same way. Oh yeah, and the grille, I guess.


Inside the X6 M is the best of what BMW’s upper echelon cars can provide. Soft leathers, comfortable seating and power everything is what we’d expect from a German luxury carmaker, but oh my goodness is it expensive. As a BMW owner, the diverging materials the company is using in their cars sadden me, but I understand why it’s happening.

Not long ago, the parentage was unmistakable in an entry-level BMW and its most expensive model. Nowadays, the difference between an entry-level 320i and this X6 M is the difference between the Four Seasons and an air mattress in your grandmother’s garage. The interior of the X6 M is gorgeous, and it absolutely needs to be.

Rear legroom and headroom is down slightly from the last generation, but anyone who’s buying the X6 M looking for practicality should be scissor-kicked by reality: its rear cargo room is comically small and there’s people you could afford to hire to haul your kids, go to the grocery store and pick up your dry cleaning. If you must: rear legroom is down to 35.6 inches and cargo area is rated at 26.6 cubic feet.

Our tester added ventilated seats, which didn’t work, a connected smartphone harness, which was too small, and a touch-sensitive navigation pad for the infotainment system, which couldn’t read my childish handwriting.

Have I mentioned how god-like the powertrain is?


Have I mentioned how god-like the powertrain is?

(In reality, BMW’s 10.2-inch high resolution screen is infinitely sharp and responsive. I prefer Mercedes’ menu navigation and Audi’s newly found compartmentalized approach to infotainment, but BMW’s system is no slouch. The redundant buttons around its clickwheel are easy to memorize and helpful when you’re pushing the car into a mountain corner at 60 mph.)


Behind the wheel, the X6 M is an incremental improvement over the last generation’s car. BMW says a half second was shaved from its 0-60 time and the stopping power has been increased by platter-sized rotors with more stopping power than morning breath, but that’s a minor detail. The X6 M’s biggest improvement, to me, is in its comfortability — or you know, when there are other people in the car.

The three transmission modes, three steering modes, three throttle modes and three damping modes all feature an “easy there, pal” setting that settles the car into a normal routine. That’s useful for when you want to pass a gas station without stopping at it (we observed 16 mpg in hard driving, 19 mpg when we eased off), and when you have kids in the car.

Get it on an open road and dial the car past “easy” and you’ll see how savage it can be. The X6 M is every bit as fun to drive as you’d imagine commanding more than 550 horsepower would be. Rocketing up to speed and maneuvering the car around twisty stuff is more fun than picking on your younger brother, and the X6 M is flatter in the corners than a Kansas accent. You can’t not love this car.

But you can’t test it very well. Despite its ability to hide its weight, the BMW X6 M always surpasses your ability and will never reveal its secret. And it’s secret is that it is fast, but it is very big and can bite back in a big way.

I love that the X6 M exists; I only need fast or big in alternating turns, but I recognize that some of you need both at the same time, to which I say, for nearly $110,000 as tested, you’re more than welcome. You’re just fine right there in the middle.

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54 Comments on “2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full...”

  • avatar

    Lord, that pricing. I’m sure the materials are high-quality, but the idea that, for less money, you could find your way into an S550, which has stitched and quilted leather everywhere, enough exotic wood to make a dozen Brazilian species extinct and more snob appeal, goes and stops just about as quickly, and _also_ can’t go off-road, frankly just doesn’t add up to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Different strokes. Again, an S-Class isn’t nearly as likely to be noticed as this car, and also doesn’t have the same ground clearance and commanding view of the road.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with both of you.
        The S-class is the better buy with this type of money, but won’t be noticed simply because you aren’t a huge red shiny SUV.

        What’s funny is that this is STILL a better deal than the Model X or a ModelX-D when it come out.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey, you could always order your S-Class in candy-apple red.

          • 0 avatar

            I thought about what I would buy in this price range if I wanted big AND fast. It would not be either of these cars. It would be a Jaguar XJ Supersport. Jaguar makes some darn good V8 engines, and because it’s aluminum, the the XJ is big, not heavy. It’s also a bit more rare and classy than a BMW.

          • 0 avatar

            I’d pick a S8 (or A8 4.0T if cheating up to the S8’s price is too far), but I’d rather have any of the sedans in this price class than this monstrosity. I’d also rather have a Range Rover (leased), despite the much lower performance, if you tell me I positively have to have high ride height and a hatch.

      • 0 avatar

        For this much money, I’m not buying a dark red Jerusalem cricket. I’d have a Range Rover. It says “Who gives a f-ck because money.” a whole lot better.

        This X6M is gauche and disgusting.

        • 0 avatar

          This is, of course, the correct answer.

        • 0 avatar

          The Range Rover, with it’s ridiculously tall ride height, overgrown rims and spongy, springy air suspension, is the reason the moneyed classes will continue to remain a bunch of pukes for at least one more generation. It’s basically engineered specifically to induce maximum amounts of car sickness.

    • 0 avatar

      Two different cars and depends on the purpose. Remember too that this is the high performance variant of the X6. The base version starts at under $60k. Despite what the author says, I’ve seen these tracked and it is impressive for what this car actually is. For some, that may be worth the price of admission alone.

      I would rather pay for performance myself. This new X6M is sub-4 sec 0-60, that’s alomst a second faster than the S550. To me, that would be the better buy over the S550.

  • avatar

    >>>After all, 5,185 pounds is large enough to have its own weather system.

    Well then I’d say it should be put in orbit around Pluto!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Too small, too expensive, but I guess that’s not the point of this beauty.

    I just can’t imagine losing $50k+ in 3 years’ depreciation.

  • avatar

    Good lord that’s an expensive Crosstour.

  • avatar

    It’s worth noting that this car has BMW’s third-generation iDrive system, called NBT. The fourth-generation iDrive system in the new G11 7-Series (which will hit the lots any minute) finally adds touchscreen support, in addition to the iDrive controller with handwriting recognition. The 7-Series almost always debuts a new era of design and technology for BMW (as it did in 2002, 2009, and now 2016), so the new iDrive with touchscreen support will probably trickle down to the X5 and X6 when they are face-lifted in 2017 or 2018.

  • avatar

    5,185 pounds….

    God almighty, my Highlander specs with a curb weight of 4200 lbs, seats 7 and has AWD. This BMW porker better be paying pretty high registration rates for states that claim to index registration to GVWR.

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who drives a bigger porker on occasion (wife’s LX470 clocks in at 5400 lbs), i’d be surprised if such laws existed. I know there’s a “gas guzzler” tax, or special tax for the HD trucks, but i would think BMW would jump through few hoops to make sure they found loophole that allows their customers out….

    • 0 avatar

      Yay my sedan weighs as much as a Highlander! Where’s all the weight sitting? I dunno.

      • 0 avatar

        For Corey, mind you the Highlander was the lightest weight of the vehicles tested.

        OK, well allow me to elaborate.

        Many states have classes they put vehicles into and charge registration that is higher for larger/heavier vehicles.

        A Pontiac Vibe is cheaper to register every year than an F150 is and of course the registration cost has nothing to do with how much you drive it. If you question policy makers about it they will generally give an answer that has to do with heavier larger classes of vehicles doing more damage to the highways and byways therefore they should pay more at registration time.

        My point was that this 5000 plus pound porker should have to pay through the nose because it is completely ridiculous that it weighs more than 4500 lbs. You could build a life size sculpture of it and it might we LESS than the real thing.

        • 0 avatar

          Ha, so NM does that to you? I have never heard of that before, actually. Here in Ohio, it’s just based on the kind of car you have. My registration for the year is something like $65. Indiana is much more expensive.

          And in Kentucky you pay a registration “tax” on the book value of the car each year, so that’s fun.

          • 0 avatar

            You are actually saying the same thing as I am. :-)

            Classes = kind of car

            Compact is cheaper to register than midsize is cheaper to register than full size.

            Car cheaper than truck.

            andyinatl has actually pointed out a flaw in that system in that his Lexus is might end up costing the same to register as a Chrysler Town & Country although the LX would be far heavier.

            Ironically NM has never changed its software to put “SUV” or “CUV” or anything like that on registration cards so mine says I drive a 7 passenger Toyota “wagon” – which I do.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not!

            Here it’s Passenger, Light/Hvy Commercial, RV, Moped, Motorcycle. Not dependent on weight or size, as far as I know.


            The driver of a Metro pays the same as an LS460.

        • 0 avatar

          How can this thing weigh more than my MkT? That seems unpossible.

  • avatar


    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      Yep, saw a non M version yesterday in person and its just plain atrocious. Its like a sedan stretched about a foot upwards. All that money will get you noticed, just not in a way that is wanted……

      • 0 avatar

        An X6 showed up at the ritzy preschool my sons go to.

        It really is ugly, and makes me question financial judgement, taste, and sanity of its owner.

        It’s clearly a look-at-me vehicle in that context, so that’s probably not what they were going for. But I look much better in my 10 year old beater van that that fool in the X6.

        Oh, and I have an extra $50k in my pocket (compared to the X6 owner).

  • avatar

    Sorry, but this drives me crazy:

    “As a BMW owner, the diverging materials the company is using in their cars sadden me, but I understand why it’s happening.”

    should be:

    “As a BMW owner, I am saddened by the diverging materials the company is using in their cars…….”

  • avatar

    Ugliness aside (looks are subjective, right?), it just doesn’t *look* like it is $110 grand.

    Had I not seen the obscene sticker in the piece, I would have pegged this somewhere around $60k. Generously.

    BMW is doing itself no favors by hyper-segmenting its cars — the brand doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore, other than “I own a BMW”. (or, more likely, “I lease a BMW.”)

  • avatar

    This monster will appeal to 2 basic groups:

    1 . The ‘LOOK AT ME!!! ‘ people who don’t know the difference between torque and horsepower.

    2. Those who are fairly compitant but need aids like stabililty control etc. and like to put the hammer down. I suggest that this vehicle with it’s massive weight and ability to gain momentum very quickly is a very dangerous vehicle to those outside this X6M when driven by the type 2 owners.

  • avatar

    This vehicle is the dark underbelly of the crossover. It’s the crossover that tries to do all the things crossovers are worst at.

    Look luxurious? Sorry, it’s ill-proportioned, chunky, and has a serious bit of mommy-mobile in its DNA.

    Go fast and stop and turn well? Yes, but not nearly as much so as the ~4000-pound vehicle with a lower center of gravity that uses the same engine (M5).

    Have presence? Maybe a bit, but either the big sedans (S550 and co.) or the big true SUVs (full-size Range Rover, GL550) make it look like a cheap toy.

    It’s just totally pointless and makes me want to laugh at the owner for being a sucker.

  • avatar

    Mercedes E63 AMG

    (Drops mike, walks away)

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My neighbor bought an X5 M about four weeks ago. 2013 with 7k miles on it. Paid somewhere in the 60’s as according to him he got for 40% off new sticker. His has the Dinan exhaust and a Dinan tuner. According to him it turns 615 hp. Obviously I can’t verify.

    However, I can hear this thing from inside my house when he fires it up, it just sounds like a beast and according it him is crazy fun to drive.
    In the end, I can only ask why? What is the point of a family hauler that should? come with shoulder harness seat belts?

    Like the six, these are LARGE. I am not sure if the sheet metal is different from the standard X, but my eyes tell me it is wider. Could be the massive tires. Oh, he’s is a divorced insurance Co exec in his early 50’s. Not where he gets placed on the scale, his other cars are a Cayenne and yes a……..Tribeca. He loves his chunky SUV I guess,

    • 0 avatar

      This car is far too hefty for me….just for the record, but I have ridden in the X5M versions and it is an amazing car. It drives far more impressively that a SUV of this weight should.

      2013 models generally sell for $60k with low miles, so I guess that would roughly equate to around 40% off sticker on a new car, but the new version also sells for about $10k more now that the 2013 model did.

      Ther is a Dinan stage 1 kit that brings this model up to 610hp and 575lb-ft of torque, so I can believe it.

  • avatar

    Will the price like this, they could make setbacks of soft material

  • avatar

    This will be a sales flop, its not gray enough!

  • avatar

    Holy hell, that’s ugly! Now we know what the second-generation Aztek would have looked like.

    Just because the Germans are now chasing the low end of the market, that’s no reason to make the 6-figure cars so ugly too.

  • avatar

    In addition to being ugly this car is just plain stupid. A couple of my friends bought them when they came out and subsequently got rid of them a few years later. One got an ML 550 and the other one got a Range Rover. They realized that first of all they didn’t need the massive horsepower of this vehicle to go to the office or hospital, the ride on M and AMG vehicles is harsher than non ones and the backseat, headroom and cargo space on the X6M is atrocious. For the same money I think the Cayenne GTS is a much better buy, the Range Rover SVR looks promising also.

  • avatar

    I might buy one of these just to pi$$ off the TTAC faithful.

    Until I remembered that the freaking rear seats don’t fold flat.

    In a 10,000 pound or whatever crossover!

    I’ve ridden in an X5M (not willingly, I promise!). It’s REALLY hard to hate when you experience it firsthand, and yes, I hate myself a little bit for feeling this way.

  • avatar

    so its ugly, impractical, and not nearly as cozy comfortable or classy as a similarly priced S class nor as brutally fast or sexy and modern as a Tesla Model S. I do not understand the appeal of the “commanding view of the road”. I spend 1/3 of my life in Ambulances and Fire Engines and I’m happy to get back in my little Fiat when the day is over, except that I feel like I’m sitting up too high in the Fiat. Everything that’s wrong with BMW and everything that’s wrong with the car market right here.

  • avatar

    Saw a black one with tinted windows on the road on my way to work this morning. Still ugly as heck, but sinister…

  • avatar

    Having been in Europe for two weeks now, I can say that if you see someone driving like a douchebag, there is a 90%+ chance they are driving an X6. Of course, this being Europe it will inevitably be one with the monster diesel under the hood.

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