Crossover & Midsize

Driving the BMW X6 M on Public Roads Is Frustrating, According to Car and Driver

In BMW‘s world, M stands for Motorsport, but for the 2020 BMW X6 M, the letter M stands for menacing. Despite its slightly off-kilter profile, the five-passenger SUV’s snarling front end and ridiculously sublime tuning are designed to intimidate.

But what’s it like to take this highway predator out for a spin? Rick Ceppos of Car and Driver recently shared both his excitement and frustration after driving the X6 M.

What did the Car and Driver review say about the BMW X6 M?

For the 2020 model year, BMW revamped the X5 and the X6. The BMW X6 M is the rocket-fueled version of the X6, which is itself the slope-back coupe-like version of the X5. The primary difference between the X5 M and X6 M is style because their performance specs are similar. The X6 M also costs $3,500 more and offers less cargo volume than its X5 counterpart. 

Ceppos is impressed with the X6 M’s athletic twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that hammers out 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. A buyer who wants to take a step up from this breathtaking power can pay $9,000 more for the Competition Package. It amps up the power to 617 hp but keeps the torque the same.

An eight-speed transmission with three shift programs is paired with this V8. Drivers have quite a bit of flexibility in combining these with BMW’s three driving modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus.

BMW boasts that the X6 M can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. The Competition version is a tenth of a second faster. Both versions have all-wheel drive and use an electronic limited-slip differential that not only increases traction but also enhances handling.

The German automaker tuned up the chassis of the standard X6 M with reworked active suspension, an active front anti-sway bar, and stiffer engine mounts that improve performance. The automaker threw in added front-wheel camber and staggered ultra-high performance Michelin tires for good measure.

The Competition Package ups the ante with a strut tower brace to stiffen the front-end suspension even more plus a dedicated track-driving mode. Other features are a growly sport exhaust system, 22-inch rear wheels, and blacked-out exterior trim. Both the X6 M and the Competition version have Merino leather upholstery, but the Competition version also has distinctive seatbelt colors.

The BMW X6 M is all revved up with nowhere to drive

An SUV with this much power and performance can make its driver feel invincible, Ceppos tells us. With a top speed of 155 mph, the X6 M can pass just about any other car on the road, and for $2,500, the optional M Driver’s Package is touted to bring that speed up to 177 mph.

The hyper-tuned suspension and big grippy tires help Ceppos’ X6 M Competition rip through S-curves. He also mentions that the SUV had no brake fade at all when swinging through the corners. Acceleration occurs at what appears to be warp speed. Its only flaw is a lack of steering feel while maneuvering through hard angles in the road.

But as satisfying as it is to burn a streak down the highway and whip confidently through corners, Ceppos points out a disappointing downside. Driving on public roads cramps the style of an enthusiastic X6 M driver.

Not being able to cut this track-eating beast loose on the taxpayers’ byways makes for big-time frustration. The X6 M is an enjoyable daily driver, says Ceppos. But that’s missing the point of driving it, which is for pure fun.

Is the price of all this fun worth it?

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No one should be surprised that this package of thrills doesn’t come cheap. The 2020 X6 M starts at $109,595, and pricing for the X6 M Competition begins at $118,595. So, is it worth it if buyers can’t maximize its driving capabilities on public roads?

If – like many people – you’re looking for a comfortable midsize luxury SUV with a robust engine and decent cargo space, the answer is no. You can get a base model X5 or an Audi Q7, which also comes standard with all-wheel drive. They’ll get significantly fewer horses under the hood. But there’s still driving fun to be had at between one-third to one-half the price of the X6 M.

For a few buyers with extra cash, though, driving enjoyment will override practicality. Its massive power, superb handling, sloping profile, and ornery grinning grille will win over these buyers. They might feel like they rule the road in the 2020 BMW X6 M but the feeling won’t last if it’s a public one.