Like many people, I could never quite understand the BMW X6. And I can understand the BMW X6 M even less. Help me out, friend: do you get why BMW makes an SUV that’s essentially the X5, but with a steep, sloping roof purely for dubious aesthetics, then has the gall to add a twin-turbo V8 engine with 567 horsepower, Brembo brakes, and a supposedly track-ready suspension? Can you fathom why this idea is catching on to other cars? No, you can’t. No one can. You can’t fathom this because it is unfathomable.
But no matter how much BMW tries to dress up the X6 M with tons of power and racing goodies and loud exhaust noises, it is, at the end of the day, an SUV. And when I had one in my possession, I had to know if all that flash and bluster and ridiculousness had any purpose at all, and I wanted to find out the only way I knew how.
I moved a big-ass piece of furniture with one.
(Full Disclosure: BMW needed us to drive the X6 M so badly it gave us one when we asked our friendly local fleet guy for a car for a weekend. It came with a full tank of gas.)
Everything good about the X6 M has to be qualified with “for an SUV.” Yes, it’s powerful, it sounds pretty okay under hard acceleration, it can move just fine, it’s got tons of grip and it’s a decent handler.
For an SUV. On all counts.
See, no amount of M goodies can ever mitigate the car’s raised center of gravity, or the fact that it weighs 5,185 pounds. That’s fine, I guess, as there are tons of performance-minded SUVs these days. But all of those come with an implicit degree of practicality and the ability to haul things. The X6 nakedly sacrifices all that to look the way it does. (A similar X5 has up to 77 cubic feet of cargo space, as opposed to the X6’s max of 60 cubic feet. That’s a decent amount.)
We took the X6 M on our adventure out to the Carlisle Import and Performance Nationals Show in Pennsylvania, and the trip there from Manhattan was a mixed bag. Its focus on performance gives it a pretty harsh ride, not ideal for city potholes, even when the raised ride height puts it in less danger of body damage than a sedan.
The seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, and rear headroom is somehow more than fine, but we dealt with annoyances like a pervasive dashboard rattle and an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s been calibrated to act more like a dual-clutch transmission—grabby and hesitant off the line, not ideal for everyday driving. And while the zero to 60 mph time is said to be around just four seconds, it never quite feels that fast.
I suppose part of me wonders why you wouldn’t get a more practical SUV, like an X5, and a second, more fun and more dedicated sports car to go along with it—and for the X6 M’s $110,395 price tag, you absolutely could do that. The spirit of a grand tourer is here, but it’s all odd in execution.
“What is your deal?” I said to it one morning, because cars are people too, and they deserve to be talked to. “You’re too compromised to be a true sporty car, or a useful SUV. What are you good for?”
This brings me to the desk.
Almost exactly a year ago my wife and I moved from a one-story, three bedroom house in far South Austin to a much smaller two-bedroom house in Brooklyn. I moved for work, to better motivate my staff by being able to scream at them in person. I didn’t mind the move, or the inevitable reduction in square footage. I’ve lived in my share of small apartments and I was happy to trade the suburbs for big-city living.
But the downsizing itself proved trickier than we expected, as it probably does for most people. We sold or donated a ton of stuff we didn’t need, but there were certain items we would Just Figure It Out at some point. An antique table from my wife’s grandmother was one; a huge wooden desk I worked at for years was another. It was a nice desk and neither of us were eager to get rid of it, but in terms of space, it came down to the desk or an actual bed in our other bedroom, but not both.
Getting rid of shit in New York City is difficult. Did you know we just put our trash bags out on the street here? It’s America’s largest and greatest city, it’s been around for hundreds of years, and that’s the best solution anyone’s been able to come up with. This is even worse with big items. Sure, you can try and leave something curbside and expect someone to magically come take it, and that works sometimes (I am told there’s a whole episode of How I Met Your Mother about this) but it’s a roll of the dice. Maybe someone will get your stuff, maybe the city will fine your ass.
Attempts to sell the desk on Craigslist and Facebook were met with failure, perhaps because unlike in Texas, not everyone owns a truck here. Various pick-up donation services flaked on us as well.
The desk itself became disassembled and used as various things, like end tables and a bed headboard, but eventually my wife decreed (and I concurred) that she just wanted it gone. It was taking up too much space and not even being used anymore. Just Figure It Out became Just Get Rid Of The Damn Thing.
Enter the X6, probably the world’s worst SUV for furniture hauling. Or was it?
The desk had been broken down into three parts: a long rectangular table top and two drawers on either side, with a drawer in the center. It was 60 inches long, 34 inches wide and 30 inches tall, all assembled.
I started by putting the rear seats down and then sliding the desk top over them. All good so far—the top fit, though without much room for error. I put the desk sides on top of that, one after another, behind the driver’s seats. And the drawer even fit off to the side.
At this point I should add that, for the first time, I had some confidence this might work. Before I wasn’t so sure—we all know utility isn’t really the X6's strong suit.
Only one task remained: shutting the hatch.
“Shit!” I screamed. The desk sides propped up against the rear glass, keeping it from closing entirely. I had come so close! I pondered what to do next. Drive it slowly with the hatch semi-open, hoping it doesn’t fly up and launch my desk into someone’s windshield? Tie it down with some twine somehow? Move the stuff to the rest of the car?
Then I realized the real issue: the desk sides were pushing up against the front seats—both of which had room to move forward. I slid both of them toward the dash, and then...
Eureka. Plenty of trunk room. The hatch shut comfortably and confidently. I had done it—turned the world’s most unusual SUV into a moving van. And with no scratches, dings or damage to the inside of the car; it’s not mine, after all, so I did it with as much care as possible.
Rear visibility was only slightly worse this way.
From there it was an easy trip down to the Goodwill Store in downtown Brooklyn, and now this lovely and perfectly good piece of furniture is hopefully in the hands of someone who can put it to better use than I could.
In the end, the X6 M is alright in my book. It helped me get rid of that damned desk, and even if it’s somewhat compromised by that oddball shape, it’s still pretty useful under the right conditions. It’s more capable than people, including me, have given it credit for.
And if the SUV apocalypse is on us, I’d rather have ones with twin-turbo V8s and 567 HP than not, but that’s just me.