Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

BMW X5 and X6 M versions confirmed

Contrary to all previous notions that M-badged BMWs must be track-tuned, rear-wheel-drive cars with high-revving naturally aspirated engines, the German automaker confirms it soon will unleash higher-performance versions of the X6 and X5 crossover SUVs adorned with the coveted “M” label of its in-house performance unit.

Unveiled via internet video (watch below) in prototype form, the vehicles represent a stark contrast to the purified ethos of existing M cars in that both the X6 and X5 top 5000 pounds, feature all-wheel drive, and are motivated by large V-8 engines mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. Specifics are murky, but BMW M’s Bernd Limmer—demonstrating the handling prowess of the test mules—says the X6 M will come to market with an enhanced version of the existing 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 (likely near 500 hp), as well as an optimized chassis/suspension setup and a stronger rear-wheel bias to the all-wheel-drive system for greater agility and less understeer.

While information for the X5 M is even sketchier, that potent people mover is expected to be fitted with the same engine/drivetrain combo as the X6. With the force-fed V-8 and active rear differential of its sportier sibling, the X5 M should experience a greater performance improvement over the regular model compared with the X6 M. However, given the X6’s lower center of gravity and more-aggressive demeanor, expect the hatchback-coupe on stilts to be more playful when the road begins to twist and turn. Bigger wheels, tires, and brakes also are sure to be part of the package, as are aero tweaks to the bodywork and the signature quad exhaust pipes.

Click here to see a video of the BMW X5 M

What’s not known is when BMW plans to show the finished versions of the vehicles, or when they’ll go on sale. Our money is on the X6 M and X5 M debuting as 2010 models at the Geneva auto show in March or the Frankfurt auto show in September, with both nearing the $100K mark and aiming to take on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Euro-only Audi Q7 V-12 TDI.

January 2009