Even in default Drive (no M options selected), this lump is a rocket. The engine itself lacks any sort of audible personality, but it provides thrust like some sort of turbine propulsion unit. After selecting M-mode and utilizing the launch control, it knocked more than a half-second off the 0-60 time and the upshifts were noticeably quicker and belched louder as well. And this locomotive runs a 12-second quarter-mile? I'm utterly amazed with how fast this thing is.
While the distances aren't particularly short in a vacuum, they are remarkable for a 5,300-pound SUV. The fade resistance, too, is beyond impressive, with the shortest stop arriving on the sixth run. A little more forward pitch than I had expected with all the real-time suspension hardware/software, but I'll cut it some slack, I guess.
Skid pad: M-dynamic Mode (MDM) produced only a slightly better result (0.91g vs. 0.90 g); however, it was far more controlled, requiring far less steering and throttle manipulation to maintain a smooth and fast arc. Steering weight is a little excessive here, but otherwise perfectly tuned for feel and assist levels. Grip is astonishing. Slalom: Two things limited the X5 M's slalom results: the stability control is not fully defeatable and the tremendous wind blast the vehicle creates topples otherwise untouched cones with regularity. The problems started when I purposely drove wide of the cones (to avoid blowing them down), effectively squaring off the turn which then awakens the DSC. Still, the connection between driver's palms and the tires' contact patches, the prodigious grip levels, and the obviously clever active AWD make the X5 M uncomonly (and incongruously) nimble and capable.