Crossover & Midsize

The BMW X6 M Is Fast, but Is It Practical?

Although BMW made a name for itself with sporty cars like the M5, today the German automaker is just as well known for its luxury SUVs. Models like the X7 may be expensive, but they’re receiving good reviews. However, BMW hasn’t forgotten how to mix speed with eye-catching style. In fact, it’s fast SUVs like the X5 M that are really boosting BMW sales figures. The X5 has a more eye-catching, stylish brother, though, the X6. With the upcoming third-gen will also come an M version. But does the BMW X6 M really mix velocity with practicality?

Is the BMW X6 M actually sporty?

Tuned BMW X6 M
Tuned BMW X6 M | The Smoking Tire via YouTube

The Smoking Tire recently took a modified BMW X6 M for a spin around some California mountain roads. Stock, the F16-gen X6 M made 567 hp and 553 lb-ft from its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. But the one driven by host Zack Klapman has some mild modifications. A Noelle Performance software tune and Dinan cold-air intake means the SUV now develops 750 hp and 664 lb-ft. That’s more than even the next-gen X6 M, which will make 617 hp, according to Car and Driver.

Klapman estimates the tuned X6 M could do 0-60 in roughly 3.5 seconds. The stock SUV can do that in 3.8 seconds, according to Car and Driver. And the BMW X6 M isn’t exactly a Suzuki Jimny. It weighs a bit over 5000 lbs. The speed comes courtesy not only of the engine and 8-speed automatic, but also the SUV’s wide stance, performance tires, and standard all-wheel drive. You can also tweak the powertrain and transmission through selectable driving modes, which include Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+.

2020 BMW X6 M
2020 BMW X6 M | BMW

The X6 M isn’t all straight-line speed, though. The one driven in the video has been out-fitted with Dinan springs for sportier handling. But Klapman also gives credit to the SUV’s adaptive suspension, which is standard. The driver can swap between Normal, Comfort, and Sport mode settings, and Sport mode does indeed let the BMW X6 M hold the road better. But if you’re driving through Chicago, Comfort is the better choice.

How practical is the BMW X6 M as a daily-driver?

In terms of reliability, BMW seems to have built the X6 M to last. Klapman actually muses that BMW could have deliberately tuned the engine for long-term reliability, rather than outright power. He also mentions that The Smoking Tire’s Matt Farah raced the X5 M, which shares many of the same features, in One Lap of America. This wasn’t a single race, but several spread out over multiple race tracks. Farah raced the SUV at one track, then drove to the next track, and raced again.

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THE ALL-NEW BMW X6

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The X6 M does work as a daily commuter. That’s precisely why Nick, the owner of the one driven by Klapman, bought it in the first place. With the rear seats folded, Jalopnik used an X6 M to move furniture. The SUV also comes with navigation and Apple CarPlay, though Android Auto isn’t available. The X6 M also comes with standard blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, as well as lane-keeping assist.

2020 BMW X6 M interior
2020 BMW X6 M interior | BMW

The BMW X6 M also has a remarkably quiet exhaust for a sporty vehicle. In The Smoking Tire video, both Nick and Klapman note the X6 M can be a bit of a sleeper because of that. Especially compared to something like an AMG G-Class.

2020 BMW X5 M and X6 M
2020 BMW X5 M and X6 M | BMW

Klapman did ask why Nick chose the X6 M over the X5 M. The answer was the X6’s styling. And while that is what separates the X6 from the X5, it also compromises it.

What holds it back?

2020 BMW X6 M interior rear
2020 BMW X6 M interior rear | BMW

While the X6 can sit up to 5 people, its sloping roofline makes it less practical than the X5. Motor1 noted the X6’s rearward visibility is noticeably poorer than the X5’s, and the X6 also has less rear leg- and head-room. It is worth noting, though, that Jalopnik found the head-room to be “more than fine.”

2020 BMW X6 M with seats folded
2020 BMW X6 M with seats folded | BMW

But the biggest blow to practicality is the loss of cargo space. The X5, with its rear seats up, has roughly 36 cubic feet of storage in the trunk. The X6, though, has roughly 27. And the storage capacity gap only grows when the seats fold down. Although, if you’re really after cargo space, a minivan is a much better choice.

2020 BMW X5 M with seats folded
2020 BMW X5 M with seats folded | BMW

Then there are the issues that go along with driving a vehicle tuned for sporty driving. Jalopnik found the 8-speed, despite not being a dual-clutch, can feel hesitant at low speeds. And even in Comfort mode, Car and Driver found the ride harsh. Plus, while the twin-turbo V8 may be powerful, it’s also thirsty. The EPA rates it at 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Car and Driver recorded 16 mpg in a mixed driving cycle, though the X6 M managed to beat its highway rating, returning 21 mpg.

2020 BMW X6 M side
2020 BMW X6 M side | BMW

Still, the customers buying a vehicle like the BMW X6 M aren’t likely to be too concerned with fuel efficiency or storage space. And they probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan. They buy the X6 M for performance and style.

2020 BMW X5 M
2020 BMW X5 M | BMW

If that tops your list of vehicle needs, the X6 M is a good choice. But if you do want more practicality, the X5 M has all the speed with a bit more space.

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