Few cars divide opinion quite like the BMW X6. It’s a high riding SUV with a coupe body that claims to offer sports car handling with all the practicality advantages of a big 4x4.
Now, however, BMW’s M division have got their hands on the second-generation model – shoehorning in the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the M5. The resulting X6 M has power boosted from 552bhp to 567bhp, while torque jumps from 680Nm to 750Nm.
To call it fast would be an understatement. While on paper it’s out-dragged by a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, it’s feels just as quick in a straight line. There is barely any lag thanks to the twin turbos - pinning you back in your seat as you pin the throttle to the floor.
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The eight-speed automatic gearbox is another tried and tested component, and works beautifully in the X6, too. It’s not as fast as Porsche’s PDK when you require multiple downshifts, but it’ll flick through the cogs in the blink of an eye as the revs build. It even inserts a pleasing parp if you wait until 6,500rpm – but time the shift wrong in manual mode and the car lurches forward as it hits its limiter.
Like many M cars that have gone before it, the X6 M benefits from a raft of settings that allow you to alter the steering weight, throttle response, damper firmness and gearbox ferocity. We found the best compromise was to leave the dampers and steering in Comfort, and tune the engine and gearbox to Sport. We’d save Sport Plus for the track as it just makes the X6 M too twitchy – especially in terms of throttle response and damping.
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But if you do find yourself on a twisting road, you’ll be simply blown away by the poise with which this huge SUV handles. It belies its size in a way nothing this side of a Cayenne GTS can, and changes direction like a sports car with little to no body roll at all. The four-wheel drive system provides unflappable grip, and the brakes give impressive stopping power for the 2.3-tonne car.
The interior is typical BMW. Exquisitely finished with swathes of leather and polished metal, the layout will feel very familiar to owners of lesser X6 models. That’s no bad thing, though an Audi Q7 does offer more sense of occasion. The M steering wheel is a lovely addition with the contrasting red and blue stitching giving a constant reminder of what lurks beneath the bonnet.
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Standard kit is good, as you’d hope on a car costing almost £100,000. All X6Ms benefit from a huge dash-mounted navigation system and iDrive setup, along with a crystal clear head-up display and Bluetooth connectivity. Dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps and velour floor mats are also standard, while our car boasted the superb £2,960 Bang and Olufsen stereo, plus the £1,095 electric sunroof. The striking Long Beach Blue of our test car is a no cost option, but the massive 21-inch alloy wheels will set you back a considerable £1,900.