Had you heard that the BMW M3 CSL is being canned – in favour of faster 4x4s? BMW’s M Division is lending a hand to develop high-performance X5 and X6 models and our spies have snapped the go-faster X6 hot weather testing in the US and the hot X5 pounding the Nurburgring in Germany.
Both SUVs are expected to use a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, tweaked to over 460bhp, and cost at least £60,000. It's not clear at this stage how the cars will be badged, not least because of the MX-5 and MX-6 trademarks owned by Mazda.
How will the M Division differentiate the tuned X5 and X5 from its regular 4x4s?
With even more obnoxious styling. Check out the front bumper of the X6 – despite being clad in black tape and wire mesh you can see the deeper central air intake. Flanking it are two gaping grilles that appear to do without foglights (as every M car does), while a discreet splitter runs the width of the bumper. But we hope those white dots don’t hide LED lights – they’re fast becoming the latest annoying must-have.
Along the flanks of the X6 run four plastic pads for disguise, but only the front one is relevant, thought to hide the M-style characteristic side vents. The new rear bumper bulges, while quad exhausts poke out from within. But this is not the hybrid version, as that features a different rear end treatment.
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And the go-faster BMW X5?
Apart from the gaping air intakes at the front, and the four shotgun exhausts at the back, the obvious changes are the wider front and rear tracks.
How can we be so certain these high-performance SUVs exist? New M Division boss Ludwig Willisch recently admitted in an interview that both cars were in development, that they could be on sale as early as early as late 2009, and that the company had a very good 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that could be used.
Herr Willisch even let slip that the engine could be tweaked to over 460bhp and claimed that demand for hot X5s and X6s could match that of the landmark BMW M5.
So we get these behemoths instead of the M3 CSL?
Afraid so. The tuned 4x4s will appeal to emerging markets like China and Russia, and make more money for BMW than a M3 CSL ever could.
Nonetheless, with the economy in freefall, BMW is cutting eight-cylinder production. Manfred Schoch, chairman of the BMW works council, recently dislosed that demand for big capacity engines was declining and the company’s Munich plant would switch capacity to build over 500,000 more four-cylinder engines by the early part of the next decade.
According to Schoch, global demand for BMW’s eight-cylinder engines can now be met by the Munich factory working four days a week on a one-shift operation.
Would you prefer a hot X5 or X6 over an M3 CSL? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say