What's New for 2012
For 2012, the BMW X6 M is essentially unchanged.
Imagine for a moment you're at the starting gate of the Kentucky derby, only you're riding a Brahma bull. The legendary race ensues and not only does the bull keep up, but indeed shows its hooves to most of the field of fancy horses. That's kind of what the 2012 BMW X6 M is like -- a bulky beast that somehow performs like a lighter, sleeker thoroughbred.
Unfortunately, as crossover sport-utility vehicles go, the X6 M also offers about the same amount of passenger space and cargo capacity as a bull. It is a 5,300-pound SUV that seats just four and offers less maximum cargo space than a Honda CR-V. Make no mistake, this high-performance crossover is not practical transportation but instead an automotive novelty item you might choose to add to your stable of exotic cars.
And it does make a statement. This ultra-performance version of the X6 sports brash styling, which augments the standard model's sweeping fastback roof line and bulging wheelwells with gaping front air inlets that look ready to ingest anything that dares to cross the X6 M's path. A 555-horsepower twin-turbo V8 backs up the menacing facade, and it's able to motivate the M's considerable mass with ridiculous ease. Acceleration is otherworldly for such a vehicle -- the 0-60-mph sprint takes just 4.3 seconds.
This marvel from BMW's M division also does a fine job getting around corners thanks to the use of every weapon in BMW's extensive arsenal of technology. The X6 M has such responsive handling that you'll never give a thought to its weight. Of course, a tight road will quickly give you a sense of paint-scraping anxiety as the bulky X6 passes perilously close to shrubs and canyon walls, but the capability for making time on a winding road is certainly there.
But in the end, we still can't get around the sheer nonsense of the 2012 BMW X6 M. It not only seats just four people (a child-size center perch for the backseat is optional), but also those in back must contend with limited headroom and a backrest that doesn't recline. And the X6 M's cargo capacity is far less than the mechanically similar X5 M. This sporty ute might cost less than a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, but at nearly $100,000 with a handful of options, there are plenty of high-performance sport sedans and coupes that'll generate as many thrills.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 BMW X6 M is a four-passenger SUV available in one trim level, although there are less performance-oriented X6 models available.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels, a self-leveling sport-tuned suspension, Adaptive Drive (includes electronic damping control and active roll stabilization), hill descent control, adaptive xenon headlights with auto-leveling and washers, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, a power tailgate, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, heated 10-way power front seats with four-way lumbar and driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, BMW Assist emergency telematics, a navigation system with real-time traffic and voice controls, BMW's iDrive electronics interface, and a 16-speaker sound system with CD player, iPod/USB adapter and HD radio.
The Driver Assistance package adds a rearview camera, a top-view camera, sideview cameras, automatic high beams and a head-up display (available as a stand-alone option). The Cold Weather package adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a rear seat pass-through ski bag. The Active Ventilated Seat package adds ventilated 14-way power front seats with adjustable and active side bolsters. The Premium Sound package adds an enhanced sound system and satellite radio. The Rear Climate package adds four-zone climate control and manual rear side window shades.
Other options include keyless ignition/entry, soft-close automatic doors, a cross-traffic sideview camera, a rear-seat entertainment system, a six-DVD changer, a three-passenger rear seat and extensive leather upholstery.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 BMW X6 M is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that produces 555 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift paddles is the only available transmission and it sends power to all four wheels.
In Edmunds performance testing, the BMW X6 M reaches 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.3 seconds. This makes it not only the quickest SUV we've ever tested but also quicker than a BMW M3. The BMW X6 M can also tow 6,600 pounds.
The trade-off for so much performance is fuel economy -- the X6 M has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
The 2012 BMW X6 M comes standard with ABS (with brake assist), stability control, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, the X6 M comes to a stop from 60 mph in an exceptionally short 107 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like the regular X6, the M version can essentially seat only four people, and its maximum cargo capacity of 60 cubic feet is smaller than many compact crossovers. As such, you get all the weight and size of a big SUV with about half of the utility.
Of course, take away the "M" badges sprinkled liberally throughout the X6 M's interior as well as the special M sport seats, and you've got the same excellent interior that comes with the regular X6 crossover. The instrumentation is comprehensive and intuitive to understand, the materials are premium and the construction quality is top-notch. And as you'd expect, the M sport seats provide superb support and comfort.
The 2012 BMW X6 M weighs 5,256 pounds. It's also a crossover SUV, so its center of gravity isn't exactly as low as a sports car's. So how does this beast manage to handle like a sports car? Technology, lots of technology.
There's "Active" this and "Dynamic" that in just about every area of the X6 M's operation, describing various high-tech electronic aids designed to keep the laws of physics at bay. Our seasoned professional test-drivers are amazed at this massive BMW's athletic character. On a tight road, however, no amount of athleticism will be able to hide just how big the X6 M is.
Then there's the power. Turbo lag is nonexistent and acceleration is at once awe-inspiring and giggle-inducing. Press the M button on the steering wheel and you can program the throttle to become more responsive and the transmission to shift more rapidly. Even the exhaust can be set to let out a gnarly bark as it shifts at full throttle. The X6 M might not be a classic performance machine, but it's certainly a riot.