When the BMW X5 M debuted for the 2010 model year, it set the standards for what a performance-oriented SUV can accomplish. Now, the high-performance SUV and its coupe-like sibling, the X6 M, are undergoing a second makeover to further boost performance, fuel economy, and overall curb appeal.
Both the X5 M and X6 M will receive identical performance modifications for 2015. Under the hood is a 4.4-liter turbocharged direct-and injected V-8 engine that produces 567 hp, which is just a 3-percent increase from the previous model year. The real news is a 53-lb-ft increase in torque for a total of 553 lb-ft. Also improving performance is a new eight-speed M Steptronic transmission, replacing the old six-speed. This new tranny behaves similarly to the M Double Clutch transmission used in other M models, providing rapid gear changes and increased fuel economy.
All these enhancements make the new models much faster. Getting these midsize utility vehicles from 0-60 mph now only takes 4.0 seconds, which is on par with BMWs estimates for the M3 sedan. This half-second improvement from the previous year also puts the SUVs in the same company as the Corvette Stingray and Mercedes-AMG GT, which do the deed in the 3.9 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Half the fun is in the new exhaust sound alone. BMW says it has revised the exhaust system for a richer and sportier rumble compared to the outgoing model. Drivers should instantly know it’s an M vehicle thanks to the distinct engine note that resonates out across the whole rev range. This system is operated by electrically controlled flaps that open or close on demand, and the sound can differ depending on which driving mode is selected.
Drivers should notice a change in handling behind the wheel. A revised suspension with firmer spring tuning is intended to enhance agility, cornering, and stability. The model now comes with a self-leveling rear air suspension, and the ride height has been dropped slightly by 10 mm to reduce body roll. Selecting between the available Comfort, Sport, and Sport + mode allows drivers to customize the experience at the push of a button. On top of this, the models adjustable all-wheel drive system can vary the distribution of drive between the front and rear axles for ideal traction in any condition. Dynamic Performance Control oversees the distribution of torque between the rear wheels to eliminate understeer.
Much of the new exterior design of these SUVs is directly related to performance. Four large air intakes and flaps up front are completely functional, helping to improve aerodynamics and cool off the engine. Thanks in part to these aerodynamic changes, as well as the new transmission, BMW estimates that fuel economy increases by 20 percent in the X5 M and X6 M. Range is estimated at 475 miles on the European cycle.
Along with increasing performance, the new exterior design helps differentiate these M models from their standard X5 and X6 counterparts. Each exterior is painted fully in one color. Immediately noticeable from the back is the signature M four-tailpipe exhaust system, and on X6 M vehicles, there is a bold rear spoiler. Both SUVs come with 21-inch M alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport UHP tires. The models also come with signature M mirrors and triangular Air Breathers behind the front wheels.
The M touch graces every part of the interior as well. Look for M-badges on the instrument cluster, steering wheel, gearshift lever, footrests, and power leather seats. But it is the little details that set these models apart. The instrument cluster is covered in supple leather; aluminum trim accents the cabin; and an Alcantara anthracite headliner adorns the often-forgotten-about roof of the vehicle. Standard features include power tailgate, auto dimming mirrors, headlight washer system, four-zone climate control, rearview camera, alarm system, xenon and adaptive headlights, and a Harman Kardon sound system. The interior also has a new-gen navigation system and an M-specific instrument cluster. A head-up display is optional.
Standard safety equipment includes airbags and side airbags for drivers and front passengers, head airbags for all seats, head-restraints in front, three-point seatbelts, crash sensors, and rollover sensors. A revised Dynamic Stability Control system now enhances safety further, unless the driver actively turns it off.
In India, BMW will launch both these fast SUVs on 15th October. So if you want a fast BMW but also an SUV, wait till the 15th of this month!