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2010 BMW X6 M: Three Premieres - VIDEO ENHANCED

2010 BMW X6 M (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 BMW X6 M


By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
Amsterdam Bureau

ATLANTA, July 7, 2009; For the first time in the history of BMW M-models, there will be M-variants of cars with xDrive all wheel drive. Another first is the use of turbo engine in an M-car. The third premiere is for us: being one of the very first to drive the X6 M – in this case, from downtown Atlanta to the Road Atlanta race track.

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Although we - my Italian colleague Giancarlo Perini and me - enjoyed the qualities of the sporty SUV on both freeways and country roads, we were much looking forward to drive at the ‘circuit’. Plus… we always like to test fast cars on race tracks, so that we can safely go to the car’s limits without having to care about the safety of slower traffic.

Click PLAY to watch running video of the BMW X6 M

Maximum sports car qualities under a button
During the technical presentation, we talked to M-engineer Walter Haupt. His enthusiasm about the new engine and the driving performance of the X6 M made us even more eager to take the new version to its limits. But not before we learned how to program the car in its optimal set up for the race track.

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When you push the ignition button, the X6 M is in default mode and runs most efficient. To start with, the X Drive of the X6 M (as well as that of the X5 M) is upgraded with Dynamic Performance Control, that varies the distribution of power between the two rear wheels from side to side, based on yaw. During cornering, the outside wheel can rotate faster than the inside wheel for better cornering speed and optimal acceleration when leaving a bend. The system works together with Dynamic Stability Control, Servotronic and Adaptive Drive. All technologies combined in the Integrated Chassis Management.

There are four modes that offer choices under EDC, or M Drive. They include M adjustments for suspension and steering. DSC, that can be switched off or set into M Dynamic Mode.

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Furthermore, Power can be set in ‘efficient’ or ‘sport’ and finally, the Head up display can be set up in M View. This all can be done with the upgraded iDrive of the X6 M’s center console. The optimal setting can be accessed by the M Drive button on the steering wheel.

The M engineers developed the Servotronic steering especially for the X6 M (and the X5 M) for individual steering assistance related to the car’s speed and varied by two control maps, one for low speeds and parking and for higher speeds and greater steering precision. The other is for sporty driving, under the M Drive button.

But there is something else, which I mentioned earlier: the X6 and X5 are the first M’s with a (bi)turbo engine. Mr. Haupt said a turbo engine thus far, did not meet the standards of M GmbH for dynamic driving because of turbo lag. “But now we have eliminated this. And we are very proud of our solution: by means of a special BUK exhaust manifold..”

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The engineers worked more than three years to optimize the BUK, that is an abbreviation of the German ‘Bank Übergreifung Krümmer’, a special and patented set up of the exhaust manifold that provides maximum flow of exhaust gasses to the two turbo’s. The BUK engine will only be available for the M-versions. As downsizing is the trend, we may expect future M-models to have a TwinTurbo technology with the BUK-manifold. For de X6 M and X5 M, the BUK and the TwinTurbo’s are placed in the V of the new 4,4-liter V-8 has 555 hp and 680 Nm, or 501 lb-ft of torque, available from 1,500 to 5,650 rpm.

Launch Control
So there we are, prepared to leave the pit lane. The large car, in the sportiest set up, and with traction control discontinued, is ready to go too.

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Would the M-version of the large BMW really be fit for the track? After the first lap on the track, my doubts were taken away. The X6 M is stunningly fit indeed. Never mind the weight and the high center of gravity. You are aware of that, but the car is sensational: we cannot sop playing and enjoying. But at the same time you are aware it is not a race car to be. The engine eagerly reacts to the pressure on the gas pedal and torque is guided with all its force to the four wheels. Enhanced by Launch Control, the car surges to 72 mph in 4.7 seconds. That’s amazing, especially when you realize the X6 M weighs some 5,300 lbs.

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The new engine is optimized by High Precision injection and the latest EfficientDynamics technologies, such as brake regeneration, on-demand control of the electrical fuel pump, the detachable a/c compressor and the volume flow-controlled supply of hydraulic fluid to the anti-roll system, that premiered on the new BMW 7 Series.

The engine works together with the six-speed M Sports Automatic transmission. This has very short gearshifts by means of the torque reduction concept, achieved by briefly cancelling out fuel injection and ignition. Launch Control maximizes acceleration can be activated in M Mode, while in Power Mode you can vary engine and transmission control by choosing either the Sport or Efficiency program.

Click PLAY to watch the BMW X6 M on snow

Mission accomplished

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The M Dynamic Mode also raised control thresholds for intervention by the brakes and reduction of engine power. Here again, the hefty car brakes instantly and well, although I am not really braking as late as possible. The typical character of M cars is realized by shifting prove power to the rear wheels and interacting with Dynamic Performance Control. But let’s forget about the slew of state-of –the-art systems and concentrate on driving.

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After accelerating from the pit lane in a stunning way, we get to the bends of Road Atlanta. Again we are surprised by the agility of X6 M. Again, we feel the weight and some body roll, but that is something typical for a large car with lots of ground clearance. The M version has been lowered only 10 mm, or 0.4 inch. It works the fast bends in a well controlled way, without any noticeable amount of understeer. You can go really fast, while at the limit there will be room for a controlled drift. If that is not having fun!!

We think the mission of the M engineers is accomplished. They really have turned the X6 into a sporty vehicle. But bear in mind that it’s character cannot be like that of the lighter and lower M saloon cars.

Well equipped
Future buyers of the M version of the X6 or X5 will have to wait until Labour Day, September 6, when they will arrive in BMW showrooms worldwide.

Both 2010 M SUVs come standard with air suspension and self-levelling on the rear axle as well as Adaptive Drive with electronically adjustable dampers (EDC and active anti-roll control and Park Distance Control. Head-Up Display, adaptive headlights and high-beam assistant will be an option, as well as a back-up camera with Top View function.

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The 2010 models will furthermore have an M-specific exterior and cockpit. Very nice is the BMW Individual instrument panel with leather padding. And the Individual High End audio system. As with all Bimmers, the X6 M and X5 M can be customized with all available features of the BMW Individual program.

Prices have not yet been announced yet. But whatever the cost, BMW expects the most sporty versions of the X5 and X6 to be highly desirable. The Bavarians never say how many they hope to sell, but they are – even in this bad financial weather – optimistic.

The M versions will be built in Spartanburg, along with the normal X5 and X6 and in the near future also the X3. The M Power V-8’s will be built in Germany.