2020 BMW X5 M and X6 M Are SUVs with the Heart of an M5
- BMW’s M division has rolled out the 2020 X5 M and X6 M SUVs, and you’ll pay for their greater performance: $106,095 for the X5 M and $109,595 for the X6 M.
- The standard versions make 600 horsepower, while the Competition models add 17 horsepower to that.
- The optional M Driver’s package gives these BMWs a top speed of 177 mph.
Long ago, BMW’s M division was the puritanical sect of the company. No turbos, high-revving engines, rear-drive only, manual gearboxes. And then the X5 SUV arrived and the puritans sailed away, presumably on the Mayflower. I’m not too good with history.
Yes, we’re aware that BMW calls the X5 an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) and the X6 an SAC (Sports Activity Coupe). That’s marketing, friend. We don’t buy into it. We do buy into just about anything with 600 horsepower, which is something you get in the 2020 X5 M and X6 M. Competition versions have 17 more horses, so they’re even more interesting.
The engine is the same fabulous twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 that resides in the M5. Peak power occurs at 6000 rpm, and there’s 553 lb-ft of torque present from 1800 to 5860 rpm, which means it’s not necessary to rev the snot out of this M division engine. Known by propeller heads as the S63, the engine makes 33 more horsepower than the twin-turbo V-8 in the previous X5 and X6 M. BMW promises a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds for the 600-hp version and 3.7 seconds for the Competition version. Top speed is governed at 155 mph. Opt for the M Driver’s package and the top speed rises to 177 mph. Wisely, BMW throws in some driver training at one of its two driving schools as part of the M Driver’s package.
Trained or not, the X5 M and X6 M come prepared for track duty with coolers for the engine oil, transmission, and turbochargers. A second oil sump maintains oil pressure should braking or cornering forces deplete the primary sump of oil. Cornering and braking forces are ensured by massive tires: 295/35ZR-21 in front and 315/35ZR-21 in back (325/30ZR-22 on Competition models). These stick to one of the last tenets of the M faith and are of the non-run-flat variety—don’t worry; there’s a spare.
Stopping the X5 M and X6 M are big iron rotors, 15.6 inches in front and 15.0 inches in the rear. Brake feel is adjustable. It’s possible to switch between Comfort and Sport brake-pedal settings. Shouldn’t BMW’s M division know how to tune brakes? Why is it the customer’s job to decide on brake feel?
If an eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system seem heretical, that’s because they are. The all-wheel-drive system has an electronically controlled clutch pack that can send power to the front or rear axle as necessary. BMW builds in a rear bias, but unlike the M5, the X5 M and X6 M lack a selectable rear-drive mode. The closest you can get to a “drift” mode is the 4WD Sport mode, which maintains the rear bias, presumably to give these two 5000-pound-plus beasts a rear-drive flavor. Also working to that end is an electronically controlled rear differential.
We have no doubt that these two SUVs will be hilariously capable on public roads and on racetracks, but we remember when the M division first toyed with the idea of a performance X5. Back when the tenets of its religion were less malleable, the company built an X5 concept with the McLaren F1’s 600-plus-hp 6.0-liter V-12 and a six-speed manual transmission. That’s an SUV that’d be worth mortgaging, but we’re not a performance-SUV customer. If you are, the $106,095 X5 M and $109,595 X6 M are probably exactly what you want.