BMW Tweaks the Purists with X6M and X5M
Crossover SUVs are fast and fun to drive
The Sierra Club won’t be celebrating the achievement, but let’s throw it out anyway: The X6M and X5M are simply the best-performing SUVs ever made. They’re faster and better-handling than even the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. These tag-team brothers, each girded with a 555-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8, aren’t merely quick by SUV standards. A 4.1-second eruption from zero to 60 mph and lap times on par with many high-zoot sport sedans are surreal numbers for any 5,200-pound vehicle.
During my drive at Pocono Raceway recently, the X6M chased down some highly capable performance cars and churned them into fine pureé. BMW itself says that the X6M and X5M can actually get around the famed Nürburgring course in the German forest -- for decades the no-excuses benchmark for any performance car -- faster than the previous-generation BMW M3 sport sedan.
But I’ve been taken aback by the reaction to these beasts. For years, the enthusiast press complained (quite correctly) that SUVs and crossovers weren’t fun to drive. Now that carmakers like BMW can bowl us over with crossover performance, the complaint -- aside from the X6’s hyperaggressive styling -- is that these vehicles are over-the-top, that they somehow don’t address a real need.
Excuse me? These are the same people who wore out their Roget’s Thesaurus in praising every Lamborghini, Ferrari or McLaren that rolled into view ... you know, all those affordable, practical two-seaters? Confronted with the X6, these purists suddenly morph into Ward Cleavers, complaining about scanty luggage space or general irresponsibility. But BMW never claimed the X6 was about hauling a big family or a load of two-by-fours. Speed and handling are what they promised. And speed and handling are what they've delivered. And compared to any sports car or compact sport sedan, the X6 is still more practical, with room for four adults and decent hatch space.
Granted, the X6M and X5M aren’t where I’d put my $95,000, either. But I spent two weeks putting my jaw back in place every time I drove them, flabbergasted at their superhuman capabilities, and there's something to be said for that. Why should sports-car owners have all the fun?
(Photo: BMW X6M from Autoblog)
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