The unbeatable M Power
BMW’s new X5 and X6 flagships – the brand’s latest M Competition models.
Reasons to consider the BMW X5 M and X6 M Competition
- Powered by a 4,4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology;
- 460kW output and a maximum of 750 Nm of torque;
- Impressive handling performance from each;
- High-quality interiors packed with features.
BMW South Africa recently launched two of its latest M models – the X5 M Competition and X6 M Competition. Each of the flagships represents the third generation of the brand’s high-performance derivatives in what it calls the luxury Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) and Sports Activity Coupé (SAC) market segments, but which rival nameplates describe as the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) sector.
Both of the models are powered by a high-revving, turbocharged, 4,4-litre, V8, petrol-fuelled engine that ups power output by 37kW compared with the unit it replaces, delivering 460kW and 750Nm.
As is to be expected, power delivery is smooth thanks to a super-slick, eight-speed M Steptronic gearbox that operates through a rear-biased, all-wheel-drive system which incorporates an Active M Differential and BMW’s Drivelogic system to help to optimise traction and dynamics. Additionally, the sports exhaust system fitted to each of the cars delivers an emotionally stirring soundtrack.
According to BMW’s claims, both of the derivatives are capable of accelerating from zero to 100km/h in 3,8 seconds – almost half a second quicker than their predecessors managed. And, such is the allure of M-badged vehicles in South Africa, the local market accounts for the third highest number of global sales of the models, a company statement says.
Like many other German automakers, the Munich-based manufacturer has a well-deserved reputation for build quality and – in keeping with that well-crafted tradition – the interiors of each of the new models are supremely appointed.
High-quality materials – including full Merino leather trim, brushed chrome and a selection of hard- and soft-touch plastics – have a premium look and feel. Fit and finish is equally impressive, with tight panel gaps and no shakes or rattles apparent in the cabins.
Since both of the vehicles are high-performance models, their cockpits tend to be driver focused. Legibility of the instrument clusters is crisp and clear and, though there are a fair number of buttons and knobs with which to become familiar, the layout of controls is reasonably intuitive.
Also, the infotainment systems offer an array of customisation options to aid ease of use, while connectivity levels are state of the art. You can also use BMW’s personal assistant to do things such as input navigation commands or make telephone calls.
From a styling perspective, the X5 offers more room than the X6 – especially at the rear, where the latter vehicle’s steeply sloping roofline tends to restrict headroom for back seat occupants, as well as limiting luggage space.
That said, the driving positions in both vehicles are good – generally commanding and comfortable – though large pillars at the front and sides can sometimes obscure visibility, especially when negotiating angled intersections.
Getting in and out of each model is straightforward thanks to wide opening doors and relatively low ride heights despite 21-inch wheels at the front and 22-inch equivalents at the rear – among the largest rims fitted as standard equipment to road-going passenger cars.
Despite the epic proportions of the models, each feels light on its wheels – sporty and agile, capable of neck-wrenching acceleration in almost any gear with equally outstanding stopping power, the latter provided by M-configured braking systems that include a pedal that’s adjustable for feel.
While the ride is firmly sporty, it is not uncomfortable – the similarly configured suspension systems on each of the models featuring M-specific adaptive dampers and active roll stabilisation, coupled with M-specific steering.
Buttons for direct access to settings for engine, dampers, steering, xDrive and braking system are within easy reach. Alternatively, two individually composed, overall drive setups can be selected using M buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
From a dynamic perspective, drivers are afforded the choice of Road, Sport and Track settings, with standard specifications for both of the models encompassing Live Cockpit Professional, Intelligent Personal Assistant and Parking Assistant. An extensive selection of driver assistance systems – as well as BMW’s acclaimed Laser Light package – can be ordered as options.
Though road noise while on the move tends to be exacerbated by the low profile tyres that each of the vehicles wears, wind noise is well contained, a tribute to BMW’s aerodynamic expertise. Large air intakes, signature kidney grilles with double bars, M gills on the front side panels, rear spoilers and rear aprons with diffuser elements not only help the models to look like proper performance powerhouses, but also help to keep airflow smooth across the bodywork and engine.
If you’re looking for a high-performance luxury vehicle that convincingly brings together sports car dynamics with utility vehicle attributes, you won’t go far wrong by test driving either of the models. Each is worth investigating for the sheer driving pleasure it imparts.
X5 M Competition R2 632 258
X6 M Competition R2 733 420