By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
One our favorite pastimes is taking road trips. When we needed to make a recent trip from our home, just east of Portland, Ore., to Boise, Idaho, and the 2018 BMW X6 M happen to be available, it was like a match made in South Carolina. (We say that, because that’s where this Melbourne Red Metallic fastback SUV/crossover was born.)
As we age we become more practical and more inclined to seek out fuel efficient and comfortable vehicles for our road trips. However, the idea running along the curves and hills of Washington Highway 14 along the Columbia River and then traversing southeast to Interstate 84 with speed limits up to 80 mph was quite appealing. Plus, it’s always fun to drive any of BMWs “Ultimate Driving Machines.
Debuting initially as a 2009 model, the X6 is one of those strange amalgams of a fastback and an SUV – to be correct, BMW refers to it as a Sport Activity Vehicle. It’s not unlike four-door coupe the concepts that have flooded the sedan market when many of the manufacturers were copying the idea of the first Mercedes-Benz CLS with its sweeping coupe-like roof line. The difference is this one sits up high like a SUV but has a body like a four-door coupe. The look has inspired a love-hate relationship from the automotive writers and we fall more in the “like” group.
Going beyond the exterior design and moving inside where the work is done, you’ll find a full scale “Ultimate Driving Machine” layout with firm BMW-style form fitting and supportive soft leather seating and lots of carbon fiber trim. Everything about interior says high quality with design aiming at the maximum comfort and efficiency for the driver.
The dash and controls are all placed for easy access in an intuitive work flow, so the driver can make changes quickly while keeping his or her eyes on the road. The controls have a precise, quality feel, and we especially like the large solid shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
The large, wide infotainment screen sits high on the dash above the center stack and provides a sharp view when used for parking, backing and navigation. The extra width allows for a split screen for a more comprehensive display of information.
The real M magic is hidden under the long hood where they’ve stuffed a 567-horsepower 4.4-liter twin turbo V-8. The powerful engine is anything by subtle. Push the start button and it roars to life with a heart pounding blast from the quad exhaust outlets. This is a sound that auto enthusiasts dream about, and pedestrians turn their head to see as it rumbles by. It doesn’t get much better than that!
At 5,185 pounds, the X6 M is no lightweight, but with 553-lb.ft. of torque twisting to all four massive 21-inch tires through a heavy-duty eight-speed transmission, forward thrust comes very quickly. A zero to 60 mph acceleration run takes only 4 seconds and if you happen to be on a track with some open space, it rockets up to a 155-mph limited top speed.
Sitting higher up – it has a ground clearance of 8.1-inches – the X6 M has excellent handling characteristics. The front to rear weight distribution is typical of BMWs, a nearly perfect 51.6% to 48.4% front to rear ratio. The front suspension is a double wishbone system while the rear has an Integral-IV independent system with an anti-squat and anti-drive geometry. It also comes standard with a self-leveling rear air suspension so even pushed hard to stop and go it won’t ever feel like a rocking horse.
Drivers can control the dynamics with and electronically adjustable Dynamic Damper Control selecting from a Comfort, Sport or Sport+ setting by pressing a button on the center console. The X6 M acts like a high-performance sport sedan on steroids.
Of course, 567 horsepower requires lots of feed, or in this case premium fuel. The EPA says the BMW X6 M should get 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. Believe it or not using cruise control and running 3 to 4 miles per hour above posted speed limits we averaged 21.2 mpg on our 900-mile trip. We thought that was very impressive for this vehicle with such a powerful engine.
As you might expect with a vehicle that has a base price of $105,095, including the destination charge, the 2018 BMW X6 M has a massive list of standard equipment. The long list of goodies includes features like the 21-inch wheels, moonroof, navigation plus all the drive technologies that BMW packs in to their vehicles that wear the M badge.
Our test vehicle did include a $6,100 Executive Package which added a heated steering wheel, soft close doors, ventilated seats, LED lighting, auto high beam, blind spot detection, Active Driving Assistant, surround cameras, head up display, wireless charging and several other nice extras. We think that’s a must have option. It also had a very cool $2,300 night vision option and the $3,700 Ban & Olufsen audio system.
With a bottom line price of $120,396, the BMW X6 M has a limited market, but for those who can afford the price, it’s an amazing vehicle.