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Driven: BMW X5 and X6 M honour M-power mantra

Brawn brace: They might have paddock-bashing four-wheel drive and more air under them, but BMW’s X pair are true M-cars, says the Munich motor maker.

Hyper X5 M and X6 M SUVs don’t harm iconic M-badge image, says BMW

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BMW logo14 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

BMW says its 423kW X5 M and X6 M SUV twins do not harm the infamous M-badge heritage but enhance it, with the most powerful all-wheel drive models in the company’s near 100-year history.

While high-riding crossovers and SUVs are not traditionally associated with tarmac-munching on-road performance, BMW is confidently slotting its second-generation X5 and X6 M brawn brace into the line-up, alongside iconic passenger cars such as the M3 and M5 sedans.

They might have a more generous ground-clearance and chunky off-roader body embellishments, but with a vicious 750Nm of torque and a chassis honed for fast road and track use, BMW says the pair have earned their two-blue and red colours.

Speaking at the Australian X5 M and X6 M launch, BMW Group Australia managing director Marc Werner said four-wheel drives can uphold the reputation of the high-performance M brand and not harm it.

“It’s up to the consumer and what they want, but we believe there is a perfect fit as far as a halo is concerned and combined with the classic SUV concepts, it in turn works very well,” he said.

“It has worked very well with the E70 and E71 predecessors. We believe that there is even further appetite from consumers to buy these vehicles.”

While established models such as the M3 and M5 have earned the reputation for high-performance and dependability, Mr Werner said the SUV pair would not need special attention to rise to true M-car status.

“I think it’s equally important,” he said. “You can’t really differentiate. We have to get this car right.

“M stands for the most powerful letter in the world and it delivers a customer promise regardless of whether it’s a 1 Series or 3 Series or 4 Series. If it has the M badge it has to live up to that customer promise.”

Launching on Australian soil this week, the highly-strung X5 M and X6 M non-identical twins take their position at the top of BMW’s SUV portfolio above the M50d and xDrive50i versions, priced from $185,900 before on-road costs.

The swoopier coupe-esque model carries an $8800 premium over the X5 M, pushing the price of the X6 M to $194,700.

While they sit up like SUVs and wear the chunky bodykits of off-roaders, the power pair are very much M-cars and have mighty twin-turbocharged V8s at their core.

With a colossal 423kW and 750Nm, the new-generation X5 M and X6 M outgun the previous models by 15kW and ten per cent more torque, scrubbing zero to 100km/h acceleration down to 4.2 seconds.

Until Mercedes’ GLE AMG and Coupe equivalent come along later this year, the BMW X6 M is without a direct rival, and even when the German opponent does turn up, it wont better the BMWs performance despite having a bigger engine and 10kW more power.

BMW says the M-powered pair use 11.1 litres of petrol per 100km compared with the 11.9 litres consumed by its Mercedes GLE rival.

Compared with the X6 M, the relatively conventional X5 M has more obvious competitors such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and Range Rover Sport SVR, which offer similar performance and Euro charm but for a higher price.

While the new version has the same 85-litre fuel capacity of the outgoing model, increased fuel economy has boosted effective range to 765km.

For those X5 M and X6 M owners who want to climb mountains or pull horse floats, the xDrive system sends the abundant torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic, and can share the power around each wheel depending on the driving style and prevailing conditions.

Both variants have grown slightly over the outgoing equivalents with the X6 M, for example, growing 33mm in length to 4909mm, height has risen by 6mm to 1689mm, while its 1989mm width has gained 5mm.

Thanks to BMWs pursuit of lightweight materials and construction techniques, the X6 M has lost 40kg over the previous version, taking kerb weight down to 2265kg.

For a more on-road focussed manner, the X5 M and X6 M have 10mm lowered and stiffened suspension compared with the rest of the range, and three-setting Dynamic Drive anti-roll system with active damper controls sharpens handling.

Road-holding is further improved by wide 21-inch M light alloy wheels that wear non-run-flat tyres for the optimum handling and feel.

The big rims are the largest factory-fitted wheels of any BMW and live in flared wheel arches, while the front bumper has enlarged air-gulping vents and hollowed-out radiator grille slats for better cooling.

The rear bumper has yet more vents, a race-car style diffuser and houses four chunky exhausts.

With the comprehensive M-factory fettling, BMW says the X5 M and X6 M are “fit for the Nordschleife” and while the company is yet to report an official lap time at the grueling Nurburgring, some reports say it could match the previous-gen M3 Coupe.

If that’s true, the new M-powered SUVs are capable of completing a lap of the Green Hell in about eight minutes and five seconds – 20 seconds faster than the previous version but not quite as quick as the current SUV champ, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S (7:59.74).

When tyre-tearing performance is not required, occupants will appreciate the fine Merino leather, electrically adjustable M sports seats with embossed M logos, and camera-based driver assistance systems.

Safety is high on the list of features too with lane-departure warning, forward-collision braking, pedestrian braking, parking assistance, surround view cameras and a head-up display are all included as standard, as is the electric sunroof and tailgate.

Entertainment comes in the form of a DAB radio playing through a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, ConnectedDrive Freedom features and a digital TV tuner.

The pair get a generous list of standard equipment including a leather upholstered dashboard and steering wheel, metallic paint electric tailgate, digital radio,keyless entry and start, head-up display, Professional navigation, sunroof and Surround View maneuvering aid.

BMW X5 M and X6 M pricing*
X5 M (a)$185,900
X6 M (a)$194,700
*Excludes on-road costs.

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