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BMW X5M and X6M (2009): first official photos

By Tim Pollard

First Official Pictures

05 April 2009 00:01

We know what they say about attempting to be a jack of all trades – but that’s exactly what BMW’s done with its new high-performance X5M and X6M duo. As the names imply, these are the fabled M Division’s take on Munich’s X5 and X6 SUVs, and with 547bhp on tap from the latest twin-turbo V8 engine, the newest M cars offer performance that will scare a contemporary M3.

BMW M GmbH has tweaked the 4.4-litre V8 engine seen elsewhere in the BMW range and the same engine is used by the mechanically identical X5M and X6M. Breathed on by a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers, they produce a heady 547bhp at 5750rpm and a titanic 501lb ft of twist. To give you some idea of the crushing performance on tap, peak torque is available all the way from 1500-5650rpm. [Insert Table Top Mountain metaphor here]. 

BMW X5M and BMW X6M: how fast are they?

This is where it gets scary. Despite tipping the scales at a Weight Watchers troubling 2380kg, both M soft-roaders hit the benchmark 62mph in a slightly surreal 4.7 seconds. Top speed is pegged to 155mph, although speccing the M Driver’s Package extends that to 171mph. Perfect for getting a ticket speeding to your ski holiday on the Autoroute Blanche.

You’ll have to look hard to spot the M-powered X cars closing in on your rear-view mirror. Twenty-inch alloys and new M-styled graphic gills on the flanks are one indicator, while at the rear new valances and chunky exhausts are another. There’s less black plastic body cladding on the X5M and X6M, too.

I’m appalled! Such profligacy!

Yes, it’s hard not to share some shock at the excesses shown by the X5M and X6M. Still, combined consumption of 20.3mpg and 325g/km of CO2 aren’t actually too bad considering the performance on offer.

BMW’s Efficient Dynamics know-how is applied to minimise the damage. Many electrical systems – the detachable air-con compressor and alternator – only draw charge when necessary. But these cars aren't about efficiency; hence their planned launchpad at the 2009 Shanghai auto show, ahead of an October 2009 UK showroom arrival.

And will the X5M and X6M just plough on at the first corner?

BMW says not, and we’re inclined to believe them. The regular X5 and X6 are such adroit corner carvers that it’s difficult to believe that these M-honed versions will be anything other than a hoot to drive. There are numerous suspension upgrades and tweaks to the electro-nannies to make these SUVs worthy of their sports tags.

Trying to work out who on earth will actually want to own one is another matter entirely. For most customers who enjoy razor-sharp handling and performance, such beefed-up 4x4s will surely prove anathema.

But then CAR has been to test drive pre-production prototypes of both hyper-performance SUVs in the winters of Scandinavia – and they are utterly addictive. If you can afford this sort of thing, and the strangely anti-zeitgeist aura they convey, you won’t find more fun in cars so big.

>> The latest May 2009 issue of CAR Magazine has an exclusive drive in the X5M and X6M prototypes during the winter testing programme. Click here for our digital issue preview