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First drive: BMW X6 M Competition. Image by BMW AG.

First drive: BMW X6 M Competition
Would you rather have the more expensive, less beautiful, more impractical and ever-so-slightly faster X6 M than the X5 M?


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BMW X6 M Competition

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Here's the second of BMW's almighty performance SUV flagships, to go alongside the X5 M Competition. It's the almost-identical X6 M Competition, but as it's more expensive than its X5 stablemate, can the 625hp coupe-SUV drive in a fashion that somehow convinces you it's worth the extra outlay?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW X6 M Competition
Pricing: X6 range from 59,340, M Competition from 113,310
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: M xDrive all-wheel drive with Active M Differential, eight-speed M Steptronic automatic
Body style: five-door performance coupe-SUV
CO2 emissions: 284-289g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,135 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter; NEDC-correlated)
Combined economy: 22.2-22.6mpg (NEDC-correlated)
Top speed: 155mph (limited; option to raise to 180mph with M Driver's Package)
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Power: 625hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 1,800-5,800rpm
Boot space: 580-1,530 litres

What's this?

A level of BMW X6 that's for those people who apparently think that a 530hp/750Nm M50i version is not quite quick enough. Launched alongside its X5 M Competition sibling, the X6 M Competition is more of the same: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 up front, delivering 625hp and 750Nm to all four wheels through M xDrive, an Active M Diff and an eight-speed M Steptronic slushbox; M-tuned adaptive dampers and sports suspension; 21-inch front and 22-inch rear alloys on the same profile tyres as the X5; big brakes with six-piston front callipers and 395-/380mm discs front and rear respectively; an interior enlivened by luscious seats, hexagonal trim and various M-specific details; and an exterior which is suitably beefed-up with big air intakes, black trim finishing, quad exhausts, a rear diffuser and a rear spoiler. For the reasons of 'coupe-SUV', that spoiler is a discreet lip affair on the bootlid, rather than a roof-mounted item as it is on the X5 M.

Thing is, you have to accept the same compromises with this Competition X6 as you do with any other model, when held up to a comparable X5. Some people will obviously find the coupe-mimicking looks of the X6 preferable but we're not among their number, favouring the X5 M's traditional SUV aesthetic much more. And because we're not onboard with the X6's divisive styling, then if you're in the same boat as us you're sacrificing rear-seat passenger headroom and cargo capacity (only 70 litres with all five seats in play but a whopping 340 litres lost against the X5 when you fold the back seats down) for a machine that's 2,700 dearer than the X5 M. Perhaps you can comfort yourself with the fact the X6 M is 15 kilos lighter than the X5 M at 2,370kg all-in, and it's also marginally more aerodynamic, so despite the fact all the performance metrics in our tech-spec panel above look identical, the X6 M is a tiny bit easier on fuel, a little bit less dirty in terms of tailpipe emissions and, most crucially of all for competitive types, two-tenths of a second quicker for the 0-124mph sprint with a 13.2-second time.

How does it drive?

If you've skipped straight to this bit in the hope we'll tell you the X6 M Competition is most definitely sharper and more rewarding to steer than the X5 M Competition, prepare to be disappointed. They drive exactly the same. Actually, they don't quite; while the X5 M is a hard-riding old bugger, if anything we'd say the X6 M is even worse for comfort. Maybe the X5 has slightly different rear suspension settings to account for the extra weight at the back, but whatever the reason, the X6 M is not a smooth roller. It picks up plenty of seemingly minor imperfections and amplifies them into jitters, crashes and thumps in the cabin. Limo-like, this thing most emphatically is not.

Shame, because - in all other respects - this thing is as talented as the X5 M. It's just as bonkers quick, it sounds just as good, it grips every bit as tenaciously and it has body control right out of the top drawer. Delve deeper into the throttle's travel and the speed the X6 M can summon up is tremendous, while it will string a sequence of challenging corners together in an exciting fashion. It also has the prestige status befitting of all of its BMW roundels, its M heritage and a price tag well into six figures. However, we can't see what you're getting here that you don't enjoy on the marginally cheaper X5 M Competition, apart from restricted visibility in the rear-view mirror. And slightly looser fillings in your teeth.


The problem for the BMW X6 M Competition isn't just deeply talented, nicer-riding rivals like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe and the Audi RS Q8. Nor is it simply the identical, more practical and better-looking X5 M Competition for about three grand less, although that car is sorely tempting on a straight head-to-head battle. No, it's also the X6 M50i, which doesn't feel that much slower, has a mighty V8 engine and which is - and we're not joking here - 36,440 cheaper than the M Competition. Thirty-six thousand, four-hundred and forty quid. Crikey, you could even make a good case for the 510hp X4 M Competition at 80,110 being a better bet, although that also rides poorly. The fact is, the X6 M Competition is a blindingly fast, great sounding, beautifully built and reasonably involving performance SUV... but unless you've always really, really wanted the pinnacle of the BMW X6 family, there are better options available elsewhere than this.

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 28 Feb 2020    - BMW road tests
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2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.

2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW X6 M Competition Phoenix AZ US drive. Image by BMW AG.


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