2020 BMW X6 M Competition review (video)

Siting along side the mighty BMW X5 M Competition is its sleeker sister, the X6 M Competition. This is the sportiest SUV BMW currently offers, featuring the company’s most powerful production engine it has ever made for its showroom.

You could think of it as like a BMW M5 but with raised ground clearance and a bigger boot, wrapped up in a muscular – and somewhat awkward – four-door coupe body. A coupe SUV. An unusual formula, yes, but one that is becoming quite fashionable these days. Audi has started rolling out more and more coupe SUVs, and Mercedes offers a coupe alternative to all of its main SUV offerings.

Despite being underpinned by the same CLAR-based platform as the X5 M Competition, and featuring exactly the same powertrain, the X6 M Competition is $4000 more expensive. With a smaller boot. However, the X6 has always been pitched as a specialised, slightly higher class model, and we guess some of the extra cost comes with added exclusivity. Prices start from $213,900 (excluding on-road costs).

2020 BMW X6 M Competition – THE SPECS

Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
Output: 460kW@6000rpm / 750Nm@1800-5800rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive, active rear diff
Wheels: F: 21×8.0, 255/35  R: 22×10, 255/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2240kg
Power-to-weight: 4.87:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 12.5L/100km
Economy during test: 13.8L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 83L/95 RON

Power efficiency: 36.8kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 1.92 seconds*
0-100km/h: 3.69 seconds*
0-200km/h: 12.52 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.40 seconds*
1/4 mile: 11.77 seconds at 194.7km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.140g
100-0km/h braking: 2.85 seconds at 36.14 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.179g
Decibel at idle (/Sport mode): 55/57*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 93*
Priced from: $213,900

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

Dynamic Display Ad(Long Version)

2020 BMW X6 M Competition – THE PACKAGE

The interior colour combination showcased here blends beautifully well with the Marina Bay Blue exterior in our opinion. It gives off a pristine and tranquil quality. It’s really nice in person. With the light, ‘Oyster’ leather contrasting with perforated black leather sections on the seats, and matching black floor carpets and lower trim panels, the theme definitely exudes luxury and expense. Add in carbon fibre garnishes for parts of the centre console and dash and you’ve got yourself a hardcore yet properly premium living space.

BMW has obviously fit its best and latest infotainment package to the most expensive X6 it offers. A 12.3-inch main screen is neatly shelved on the dash, offering touch functionality or you can use BMW’s iDrive-style hand controller on the console. Another 12.3-inch digital screen sits nestled within the instrument binnacle for the driver.

While the main media screen doesn’t really offer a broad range of display options and configurable menu layouts, the instrument cluster can present a range of information depending on your driving intensions. Using the new M Mode button on the console you can flick through Road, Sport and Track display layouts. The Track layout goes for a fighter jet theme showing only vital stats relating to the powertrain or vehicle status.

All of the on-board tech is run by BMW’s latest 7.0 operating system, supporting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, online functions including remote vehicle check and lock/unlock, as well as some handy features like engine oil check from the driver’s seat and connectivity to internet-based services.

We don’t really have any complaints about the technology in here, or how it is engaged. We like the hand controller on the console as it tends to minimise distraction, and we like that both screens are not identical in shape which can otherwise look a bit cheap in our view.

The build quality of all fixtures and fittings seems top notch, and it’d want to be for this price category. Meanwhile basic plastics and cheaper materials are kept to a minimum. Buyers can, of course, go in and option for extended leather packages or fine, soft-touch fibres for certain surfaces for that added premium touch.

Passenger space isn’t going to be an issue for most shapes and sizes. BMW seems to nail the driving position with every vehicle it makes, and that notion is perpetuated here. There’s a heap of adjustment available from the driver’s seat, including movable seat bolsters, and the steering column moves up and down and in and out.

Boot space is rated at 580L or up to 1530L with the rear seats folded down. That’s 70L less than the X5 M, or 340L less with the seats folded down. Needless to say, if sheer practicality and cargo space is high on your priorities, go for the X5 M. A 12V socket and rear seat tabs on the boot wall add convenience.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition – THE DRIVE

We’ll start with the everyday usability since, let’s face it, most buyers will probably use this as a normal SUV for most of the time. And in this scenario, yes, the ride is firm. But this is a hardcore performance SUV – it’s beyond even a sporty SUV.

We know there are some suspension setups out there at the moment that really push the boundaries of what’s technically possible, in terms of providing rigidity and comfort. Porsche’s latest air suspension that’s available with the Cayenne Turbo S, for example, is truly incredible. So yes, BMW M could have went down that path and offered an air suspension option. But we get the feeling M is focused on performance, first and foremost. Air suspension is usually quite heavy, for example, which could go against the M mantra.

This engine is utterly phenomenal. It might only be a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, but the specs are just insane, and the real-world translation is even more surreal. You get a whopping 460kW at 6000rpm, which makes it one of the most powerful combustion-engined SUVs on the market, matching the output of the legendary McLaren F1 and its BMW V12. Unlike that V12 hypercar (650Nm), the X6 M also develops a monster 750Nm, available from only 1800rpm and held until 5800rpm. There’s basically no window where this engine isn’t doing remarkable things.

In normal driving conditions the engine is extremely flexible. And if you leave it in Comfort mode the unit merely purrs along with a faint pop and burble. As you can probably imagine, making progress through traffic is not a strenuous job. Lean on the accelerator pedal to get wherever you want to be in the traffic flow. You don’t have to push it hard. However, it’s not a hyper-sensitive throttle, either. Your grandma could drive this in Comfort mode just the same as a regular X6 diesel. It behaves just the same, and you can fly under the radar somewhat.

The engine features twin-scroll turbochargers mounted within the V, a forged crankshaft, and a motorsport-derived lubrication system with integrated baffling and active sump suction. There’s also two water-to-air intercoolers and eight other coolers, a high compression ratio of 10.0:1, and variable valve timing and lift, and direct injection. It all complies with Euro 6 emissions standards, too.

Now, this is a big and very heavy vehicle, weighing in at 2240kg (tare). But from a powertrain perspective, you wouldn’t know it. The X6 M accelerates along like it’s constantly driving down a very steep hill, where gravity isn’t a hindrance but an advantage. You know that feeling as an engine pulls through higher gears and the revs drop a little bit? That doesn’t seem to happen in this. It almost feels like it doesn’t need gears. Just put it in eighth and leave it.

Utilising the eight-speed automatic transmission though, the potential acceleration is nuts. From a dead stop, first gear is over in no time, at which point you’re almost instantly doing 60km/h. According to our Vbox tests, it’s actually 1.97 seconds to that speed. Then second gear really rips into your internal organs and propels you up to around 100km/h. This, according to our tests, takes just 3.69 seconds. It’s incredibly quick, especially for a 2.2-tonne luxury SUV. BMW claims the sprint takes 3.8 seconds. This leads us to believe this engine actually produces more than the claimed 460kW. It feels like 500kW.

You’re probably thinking this thing drinks like a 1990s Australian Test cricketer. And rightly so. After all it does feature a large-ish twin-turbo V8 that belts out over 600hp. However, some of our more loyal readers will notice we like to do a little calculation with cars that we call ‘power efficiency’. The formula is simple; divide the power output by the official fuel consumption average. We include this in the spec box in all reviews.

In the X6 M’s case, that means 460kW divided by 12.5 (official average is 12.5L/100km), which equals 36.8kW per litre of fuel per 100km. Now obviously the engine isn’t producing its peak output during the official combined cycle test. In fact, it requires 6000rpm for this to reach 460kW, as mentioned – we’re sure there is no part of the official ADR-certified testing protocol that includes running an engine to 6000rpm. But, this little calculation does give you an idea of an engine’s potential at both ends of the spectrum (performance and efficiency), and its overall balance.

For some perspective, the latest Toyota Corolla hybrid, which is a very economical vehicle, has a power efficiency ratio of 25.71kW:L/100km. We’ve noticed over the years that anything over 30kW:L/100km is very good. Vehicles with a figure over this offer excellent performance but also excellent economy. Potentially, anyway. However, for the X6 M, an official average of 12.5L/100km is outstanding, considering the power and performance it can unleash.

Put it this way, if the engine was halved to 2.2L, theoretically, it’d produce 230kW and offer an average consumption of 6.25L/100km. We can’t find a non-electrified vehicle that gets near that. Even BMW’s own M135i, using a 2.0L turbo, develops 225kW yet consumes 7.5L/100km. In other words, this V8 is an extremely high-tuned engine that maximises every speck of petrol. In the real world, things are of course a little different. By the end of our test we saw the freshly reset trip computer display 13.8L/100km. Which isn’t too bad.

As for tackling corners, the M-tuned xDrive all-wheel drive system must use an algorithm that’s more complex than Google. Because how the hell does 460kW and 750Nm always know where to go? Fortunately, we have driven the X6 M50i so we have some perspective. In that the xDrive system is very good but we do remember some gentle push-understeer at the limit (probably dialled in during engineering on purpose for safety reasons). In this, there isn’t really any evidence of understeer.

If you push the traction/stability control button once you’ll get the ‘DSC Sport’ setting. Then, you can also go into the M menu on the dash and activate ‘4WD Sport’ mode. In these two settings the in-corner grip and longitudinal traction is astounding. Even with all of that grunt. You can come hot into a tight-ish corner, bang it down to second gear and push hard on the throttle, and you get about half a second to decide what you want to do next. Because by this stage, the corner is long behind you. It rips through twisty roads so savagely, it can be hard to keep up.

BMW doesn’t seem to be all that big on carbon ceramic brakes with its vehicles, and in fact it’s not even an option here. Instead, the standard “M compound” 395mm front and 380mm rear cross-drilled discs, with six-piston front and single-piston rear calipers, are described as “racetrack ready” by BMW. During a few heated drives on our usual mountain road test route, we only experienced a slight change in pedal feel, likely as the brake fluid warmed right up. But no sign of fade. Countless laps on a circuit might tell a different story considering that 2240kg weight.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition – THE VIDEO

2020 BMW X6 M Competition – THE VERDICT

This is a beast of an SUV. Obviously nobody really needs a vehicle like this. But there is a huge sense of desirability, even just standing next to it. Personally, I’ve never really been a big fan of coupe-style SUVs. I’ve always just preferred the wagon layout since it is more practical. Even still, there is some invisible aura or forcefield that seems to encompass the X6 M. You know it’s something special and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Yes, you do need to fork out an extra $4000 over the X5 M Competition and you do lose 70L of boot space in comparison. But if you want to go nuts with a performance SUV, you might as well go all in.

PROS:
– Hammering acceleration and soaring speed
– M-tuned xDrive all-wheel drive system
– Attention to detail in regards to motorsport-derived components
– Hardcore yet luxurious and practical interior
– Lots of driving modes and interesting in-car apps to play with

CONS:
– Reduced practicality over X5 M yet $4000 dearer
– Firm ride (to be expected?)

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

 

Brett is the editor and founder of Performance Drive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.