The potent X6M dominates the X6 M50d on paper, but does it do the same on the road?
Photos Vernon Wong - Art Direction Sean Lee
THE X6 is one of the most unlikely sports utility vehicles that anyone would expect to be turned into a high-performance car. As the largest SUV in BMW’s lineup, it’s hard to imagine the elephantine X6 possessing speed and nimbleness. The two X6s you see here, however, are no ordinary beasts. The flashy blue number is the X6M. Beneath its bonnet lies a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 that pumps out 575bhp and 750Nm. Driven in anger, it will hit 100km/h from a standstill in 4.2 seconds. Mind you, that’s despite the vehicle’s 2.3-tonne kerb weight. Now, the X6M isn’t just capable of a great turn of speed – it’ll also demolish corners (and any preconceived notions about its lack of agility) with astonishing gusto. Sure, there’s a bit of body lean, but the well-sorted suspension and M-tuned all-wheel-drive system (which sends more power to the rear wheels by default) help ensure that its driver feels like a hero who just tamed a monster.
The X6M’s dominant performance makes its matchup with the X6 M50d seem like a foregone conclusion. But the white-hot latter car is no slouch. In fact, on paper alone, it sounds more exciting than its sibling. Sure, the X6M has two turbochargers and a larger displacement motor, but the X6 M50d has arguably one of the finest powerplants available today. Its 3-litre inline-6 turbodiesel features not one, not two, but three turbochargers. Its 381bhp and 740Nm are eye-opening figures, but how this engine produces these digits is equally amazing, too.
At low speeds, the small turbocharger is tasked with delivering boost. Once the SUV reaches highway speeds, the large turbo is engaged. The third, small turbocharger comes on when the vehicle is well into triple-digit speeds. Thanks to this setup, the vehicle never feels like it’ll run out of steam. Because its manners are always linear and predictable, this car is superior to the X6M in everyday driving. The former may have 194 fewer ponies than the latter, but it’s only a second slower from nought to 100km/h. So where does that leave the X6M? All told, this automobile is an engineering feat, for it achieves the impossible. If you want to do track days in an SUV, this is your steed. But when it comes to overcoming the challenges posed by everyday driving, the X6 M50d shines even brighter than its sibling. Smoother and more tractable, yet boasting comparable performance, it is even more impressive than the X6M in this big Bimmer bash.
The X6M’s V8 (below, left) is thirstier than the X6 M50d’s turbo-diesel, averaging 9km/L while the latter averages 15.2km/L.