We talk a lot about cars being fit for purpose here at CarAdvice. To us, it’s an intangible measure of the way a vehicle performs in the role it was selected for.
A car like the 2015 BMW X6M however leaves us with a bit of a quandary – it might be absurdly fit, but what on earth is its purpose?
The M version is hard to miss. With an aggressive airdam array up front and pumped rear hips and quad-exhaust at the back, the X6M is made more easily identifiable by its blue M-logo brake callipers and subtle X6M badge in the grille.
In any guise, the X6 has always polarised opinions – some love its brash ‘so what’ statement, where others still consider it to be the answer to the question nobody asked.
Big, bold and brutal, the X6 commands attention where ever you go. Even the ‘entry’ level xDrive30d model has solid performance on-tap with a 190kW/560Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine under the bonnet.
To turn the performance dial up to 11 and make the ‘coupe on stilts’ even more aggressive, then starts to seem like overkill.
Under its stunning Long Beach Blue metallic bonnet, the X6M has a 423kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol engine. Enough whomp to make a 0-100km/h sprint in just 4.2-seconds. That’s just one-tenth of a second slower than the identically powered BMW M6 coupe and BMW M4, the heftier SUV able to better convert power to traction thanks to its four-wheel drive system.
More impressively, at 192kW per tonne, the X6M has more than twice the power-to-weight ratio of its xDrive30d sibling. Fair to note though, it has more than twice the fuel consumption too – pot-a-toe, pot-ah-toe.
The sad thing is, on the majority of Australian roads, all these numbers are simply good dinner-party fodder. You simply cannot use the X6M to its full numerical potential (well, you can use the fuel consumption one…)
There is not enough unhindered tarmac to enjoy the full capability of the car – unless of course you have an empty section of Tasmanian hinterland to traverse on a daily basis like Mike did on the local launch, on which the car’s dynamic prowess blew us away – so commuting in the X6M is like driving a caged gorilla.
The eight-speed transmission still features the annoying M-Steptronic ‘feature’ of not having a ‘Park’ mode, but when on the go is silky smooth and fast to change with the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
Pottering along at 60km/h, the mighty engine rumbles and whistles away, barely ticking over, a shadow of its potential. Even short bursts are short-lived, you run out of road long before you run out of car. You just can’t use it.
What you can do though, is enjoy the sumptuous interior.
From the Silverstone full merino leather interior (a $7800 option), gloss carbonfibre trim and multi-tone interior lighting, the X6M is one delicious place to spend time.
The Alcantara headliner (part of the interior option package) and standard leather-topped dashboard really help make the X6M feel like a very premium car. It might be Mighty Joe on wheels, but it definitely feels special.
Unlike some of the other M-cars in the BMW stable which still have a considerable option list, the X6M comes fully loaded with almost everything you would expect of a range-topping vehicle.
Our test car seemed to be bursting at the seams with equipment and only had the rear sun blinds ($500) and soft close door function ($900) as fitted options beyond what we’ve already covered.
BMW’s still excellent iDrive system works well within the 10.25-inch display, which includes a full 360-degree parking camera and DAB+ digital radio. ConnectedDrive, the live telemetry system BMW uses to keep the car up-to-date with its surroundings, provides real-time traffic and navigation route information as well as a range of operator assisted services.
Looking for a fish and chip shop in Lakes Entrance? Call the Connected Drive concierge and have the route sent to your navigation system. Lazy – but quite handy.
The layout too is again typical BMW. Everything is where you think it should be and easy to reach and work while on the move. I still can’t get my head around the ‘scripted’ writing on the iDrive dial for entering navigation addresses and phone numbers – but that’s more me than the car.
When the original X6 launched, it was much criticised for its lack of inherent practicality. There was only seating for four and the hatchback tailgate reduced cargo volume as well as head space for rear-seat occupants in comparison to its sister SUV, the X5.
The new F16 shape addresses both these issues and the X6M is actually quite comfortable in the back for three adults. The base of the rear seat is slanted back so you sit quite low on the bench. This results in a somewhat relaxed posture with plenty of headroom.
The boot too, has 580 litres of space, which expands to over 1500 litres using the 40:20:40 split rear seats. The hard-folding cargo blind feels a bit cheap though.
Vision out of the X6M is better than you expect, the top of the rear lip-spoiler still visible in your rear-view mirror, but even the fat C-pillars don’t intrude on your vision too much.
The cabin is reasonably quiet, even with the drone of the exhaust being piped through the car’s speakers. We measured the ambient volume at 62 dB for a 100km/h cruise. It’s strangely wind noise and not road noise that you can hear more prominently though.
It’s firm, but never too firm. The M-Adaptive suspension takes the harshness out of the ride you can experience in other X6 and X5 models – helped too by the lack of run-flat tyres on the 21-inch wheels (285mm front and whopping 325mm rear). The BMW M Division eschews them.
The steering speed can be adjusted with the M-mode settings, but even in the basic ‘Comfort’ mode, there is none of the slight deadness on centre you get with the non-M X6. It’s a surprising easy car to drive around town – it works just as well on the race track as well, as Alborz found out at the car’s international launch in Texas earlier this year.
Dial all the Ms up to their full M-ness – for steering, power, gearbox and suspension adjustments – and the X6M becomes entirely unnecessary in a built-up area. So twitchy is the throttle, we found ourselves regularly tripping the ‘pre-safe’ seatbelt tensioners as the blue meanie rushed up behind slower traffic like the Millennium Falcon entering light speed.
There is so much power here, if you ran it on a treadmill generator, I’m sure you could power a small town for a year.
The 2015 BMW X6M is an impressive car, but its also a bit of a stupid car. You could save $80,000 and go for the X6 xDrive 30D and enjoy 80 per cent of what you do in the X6M.
That said, at $194,700 it is just about $100,000 CHEAPER than the BMW M6. Same power, same engine, same number of M badges, but with more space and more practicality. Does that then make the X6M a solid value proposition?
If you want the X6M then you will love it. It does everything it is supposed to do, and does it well. If you never got the X6 concept, then this enormous sports coupe will continue to make no sense whatsoever.
It still feels like it isn’t sure of its purpose, but it doesn’t really care. The X6M is unashamedly a giant sports coupe, and proud of it.
Whatever the case, with Mercedes-Benz due to release the GLE Coupe 63 AMG later this year, the market for stupid cars with stupid power and strangely stupid value, might not be that stupid after all.
Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser and James Ward.