The commonly used, direct-injected, V8 (X6, X5, 550, etc) has been converted for turbo duty. Inside, the crank is the same but new pistons are attached to beefier rods. You may not be aware of the fact that the cylinder-heads have pretty much been reversed from a typical V configuration; the exhaust now goes toward the inside of the V whereas the intake is on the outside. The two turbochargers, with max boost of 1.5 bar (21.7psi!!), have been placed inside the V. Doing this allows for faster spool up and heating up of the cats which are located directly next to the turbos, yielding better performance and lower emissions. The turbos have two liquid-to-air intercoolers, unlike the air-to-air models on the 335i. It’s an interesting set-up, reducing the length of pressurized pipes and therefore keeping the overall volumetric size of the pressured system low (remember PV=nRT? Pressure and volume are indirectly proportional). The huge radiators you see in front of the X6 M are oil coolers (lessons learned from early 335s are clearly applied). With twin turbos, two cats and a big honkin’ V8, exactly how much heat is generated under that hood? Oh, and by the way, just because you really want to know… no, there is no oil dipstick.
The transmission is a 6-speed Steptronic automatic with paddle shifters. No M3-like DCT transmission will be offered as that transmission is not strong enough to handle the 500+lb-ft of torque that this engine generates; ditto for a proper manual transmission. The transmission has three driving modes, D (normal), S (sport), and M (More sport (yea, baby!!)). The X6 M is all-wheel-drive (first for BMW’s M), and the rear differential looked really huge (as did the axles) and was covered with temperature-lowering fins (perhaps too many M-Coupe/’Vert owners complained?), but I don’t have any specs on it; I’d assume it’s some electronically controlled LSD like all other M-cars.
In the rear, no coil-springs anywhere in sight (at least on this fully-loaded model). What I did see were airbags which brought back to me the horrors of my E28 M5 self-leveling suspension. I was told that the X6 M has a 2-level EDC (Electronic Damping Control), which can be seen in E90 M3′s and E60 M5′s. While looking at the suspension I’ve noticed how nice and straight twin exhaust pipes were; I’d assume about 2.5″, or slightly larger in diameter, each. Nice!
In life, it’s much more menacing, especially in the front which looks down-right angry.Otherwise, it’s pretty much an X6 with typical M-cues such as side vents, side-skirts, dual-twin-pipe exhaust, and shadowline trim. As you can see in pics all badges were taped up, so that no one would know what kind of vehicle it is. Right. I’ve seen that done before and I can’t figure out why manufacturers even bother.
Standard modern M stuff; multi-function seats with active adjustments (they hug in corners, see E60 M5), brushed trim, M-logos on the tach, M-color stitching, thick steering wheel with M-mode button. The shifter is the same annoying one as in the current 5-series and X5 with steering wheel paddles for manual shifting. The M gets the newer version of iDrive (has more buttons) for 2010, which was introduced on the 3 and 5 series for 2009 but is noticeably absent from 2009 X5/X6. This model happened to be just about fully loaded, including rear seat entertainment. New to the X6 was an Infiniti-like surround view of the car which helps with backing up, etc. I am pretty sure that this is a new for 2010 feature.
The brakes are huge, with what looked like 6-piston calipers in front. I was told that the wheels you see on this car are not the wheels that will come on the X6 M, but are the proper 20″ size. I did not see a spare tire (make of it what you will). Electronic emergency brake (e-e-brake?); I hate those, good thing you have an auto transmission and will never actually have to use it. Under the rear bumper is a removable cover which allow to trailer hitch mount. I was told that there are currently only two X6 M’s in the US.
I’m not a huge fan of “performance SUVs”. I feel that they are like Swiss Army knives; they do a lot of things but don’t do one thing really well. Like most people, I’m not in love with quirky looks of the X6 either. I appreciate the fact that such vehicles exist and are available to buy, but personally I’d buy a cheaper, more proper, SUV and put the rest of the money towards a separate sports car.
The car itself, well, like with most BMW products these days I wish it was just simpler. Fast forward six years and 80k miles: judging by the fact that that cooling systems on all the BWMs I’ve ever owned had issues, it’s a safe bet that this super-complicated cooling system won’t be super reliable. Ton of power going through an automatic transmission to an AWD system has not proven itself historically to be a good idea, no matter who designs and makes it. Add to that a ton of complicated electrical systems and with time you’re going wish that everything was as easy as adjusting the valves on that S14.
I I am very grateful to all those have arranged for the opportunity to experience this great machine. Thank you very much.
UPDATE: Following a deadline, I was allowed to post pictures of the X6 M. Here is the link.
X6 M Gallery:
Official BMW pictures: