Are BMW’s M-Powered SUV’s Worth It?

By Robert Nichols

The second generation of the BMW X5 M and X6 M are due in Canadian dealerships this spring. Both will cost north of $100,000.00 – the 2015 X5 M will be priced at $105,900 and X6 M at $108,900.00 – and both will offer increased power.

The same 4.4L V8 engine and 8-speed, “Steptronic “, transmission is used in both vehicles, with dramatic effect. The engine pumps out 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. This combination is said to deliver 16.6 L/100 km city and 12.1 L/100 km highway, and a 0 – 100 km/h time of 4.2 seconds. Such high output is made possible by direct injection, variable valve timing, twin-scroll turbo-chargers, and an exhaust manifold that always keeps the turbo’s spinning by linking the exhaust from both sides of the engine.

Inside and out there is no mistaking these two as BMW productions. The body work has many design cues found in the other M vehicles, and the insides have the comfortable familiarity of every BMW ever. BMW is hoping to dominate the SAV (read SUV) and what they call the SAC markets. SAC stands for Sports Activity Coupe. BMW should have no problem being the top seller in this market as they have just made it up.

I like the description Kevin used in his Honda CR-V review, that SUV’s are nothing more than jacked up wagons. The X6 M is the epitome of this theme. It isn’t a car nor is it an SUV; rather it’s a mutation, the result of inbreeding. A 5-series wagon has mated with an X5 and spawned the X6, a vehicle that in my opinion should have been put down long ago. It looks like a 1-series coupe with the mumps, will not drive off road and drinks far too much fuel. Further, by putting an M badge on it and feeding it steroids BMW has made it even less appealing to me. The ride will be brutally harsh, and the acceleration, although quick, will always leave you wondering whether you would be a bit more thrilled if you had chosen an M5 or M3/4.

The X5 M on the other hand will have competition from Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne. The trouble for the X5 M starts once you leave the road. Both the Range Rover and Porsche perform very well off road. They have managed to do the seemingly impossible and blend off road ability into vehicles that retain impressive on-road performance. The X5 M’s focus is strictly on-road dynamics. For the bulk of consumers that is well enough. But I would always have that nagging doubt in the back of my mind, that perhaps I could have gotten more for my money. And let’s face it, if you are buying an SUV you want to be able to say, “My SUV can tackle any road or trail”, even if you never plan to prove it.

The BMW X5 M and X6 M are both comfortable and thrilling on the open road, but is that really enough for the cost of admission?

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