BMW gets a lot of flak for building cars that have no direct link to their history at all. The X6 is an SUV coupe thing that has earned more cross eyed stares per mile than any car ever conceived. The X6 M makes absolutely no sense and has no point, we should hate it. But somehow it’s fabulously endearing.
(Full Disclosure: I’ve wanted to drive an X6 M for ages for reasons I don’t quite understand. BMW kindly obliged.)
Step back from your predetermined notions of what a BMW has to be for a second. No, this is not a small coupe with a manual gearbox, a straight six, nimble handling, and understated looks. What we have is an SUV that has no cargo space with a twin turbo monster V8, exaggerated in-your-face looks, and an eight-speed automatic.
Everything that I just listed should add up to a BMW you’d hate and never want to be near. But it’s the total opposite. This car is a rock star.
You realize that the first time you touch the gas. The X6 M has BMW’s 4.4 liter twin turbo V8. In the X6 it puts out 567 horsepower and 553 pound feet of torque. It weighs 5,185 pounds.
And despite all that, it gets to 60 in four seconds flat. Let that sink in for a second. It also doesn’t just stop accelerating when you hit 60. It’ll keep going with the same ferocity forever. And on a backroad, it can hold itself together quite well. It’s not a Caterham or a Miata, but it’s not a wallowy beast
But that’s not why the X6 M should hold a special place in your heart.
I love it because this is a car that takes a lot of chutzpah to build. I’ve said it before, but there is absolutely no rational reason for BMW to build this car. There is also no rational reason for anyone to buy this car.
Not one person needs this car. BMW has built a tall sports coupe that has no rear head room, can’t go off road, has 21 inch wheels, yet also has hill descent control. It’s insane. BMW builds this car because BMW wants to build this car. That’s it.
And not only did it take balls for BMW to build it, but you need to have a ton of self confidence to buy one. A shrinking violet isn’t the sort of person that should be behind the wheel of an X6 M. Everybody, and I mean everybody, looks at the X6 M. Kids, adults, dogs, cats. Everywhere you go you’ll be noticed, sometimes that’s a look of recognition and a nod of respect, other times it’s a glance of utter confusion, and other times it’s the disapproving look that your mother gave you through your childhood. You need to crave attention as well as be self aware enough to recognize that you didn’t buy this for any rational reason. It’s a very specific person that is going to buy this car.
The rational big M car from BMW is the X5 M. At least it still has storage space and headroom. But being rational isn’t cool. And deny it all you want and then tell me in the comments that I’m still wrong, but there is something unrepentantly cool about the X6, it’s like a custom that came straight from the manufacturer.
The X6 M gets a lot of hatred thrown its way that it isn’t a real BMW and shouldn’t be considered one alongside the lineage of historic M cars or even next to current ones like the M3 and M5. That’s totally true, it isn’t in that lineage. But there’s also this hex on BMW that punishes them every single time they try something new because it doesn’t adhere to the brand ethos.
If BMW only made cars that were similar to the 2002 or the E46 M3, BMW wouldn’t sell any cars. They have to try new things. And if a new idea for a BMW performance car is a truck that has no right to exist but somehow does, well, let’s give it a chance. It’s not what you expect from BMW and might not be for you, but that’s ok. Because this thing is better than it should rightfully be.
Also, have you seen how cool it is?
Top art by Sam Woolley, terrible cell phone photo by the author.
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