The BMW X6 M50i is the M Performance preview of the incoming BMW X6 M. Saddle up with the twin-turbo V8 in BMW’s mighty, polarising SUV coupe.
One of the great things about art and life, is that you’re under no obligation to like anything. Your friends and family might insist you’re mad for not liking this movie or that band, but you don’t have to like them.
The BMW X6 is polarising. The swoopy-roof version of the X5, the design kicked off plenty of outrage among the BMW faithful as well as interested onlookers. Then sold like crazy, particularly here in Australia.
The second-generation car is just controversial as the first, but it seems we’ve all come to accept it. Frankly, when it’s the M50i with a 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet, acceptance might be easier than you think.
How much is a 2020 BMW X6 M50i and what do I get?
X6 M50i Pure $140,900
X6 M50i: $155,900
As you might expect, the headline price is where you start, given the long options list. I can tell you that it’s a good start, because you get 22-inch alloys, four-zone climate control, around view cameras, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, electric front seats with heating, sat nav, auto laser headlights, head up display, leather everywhere, power tailgate with gesture control, soft close doors, powered everything, auto wipers, wireless charging and run-flat tyres.
The X6 comes with BMW Operating System 7.0 in the iDrive screen and the fully digital Live Cockpit. The system is brilliant and I love the way BMW caught up with Merc and Audi on the cabin tech front and I reckon the instrument pack is the best of the lot as far as design, if not size, goes. I like the way the maps have the useless detail stripped off so you can actually see where you’re going.
Speaking of seeing where you’re going, the laser headlights are awesome. Throwing a beam up to 500m, they also blank out bits of the beam to stop dazzling other road users.
Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard and with wireless charging, we have the mobility holy grail.
There are options galore, like ventilated front seats ($1500), glowing kidney grille ($1000!), Bowers and Wilkins 3D sound ($7400!!), Crafted Clarity glass (fitted, $1400), night vision with pedestrian detection ($3900), heated rear seats ($900), 3500kg tow package ($2500) and panorama glass sunroof for $1700. My car had the $6600 Indulgence Package which bundles up ventilated seats, comfort seats, Crafted Clarity, rear seat heaing and front massage seats.
The X6 M50i comes in eight colours – Carbon Black, Riverside Blue, Manhattan, Arctic Grey, Alpine White and Mineral White are all free. Tanzanite Blue and Ametrine hit you for a not very cheeky $2400.
For specification information on the X6 M50i Pure, click here.
Look and feel
It’s quite difficult getting the right angle for the X6 to look its best. Three-quarter views can flatter chunky cars, but nope, not the X6. The colour probably doesn’t help – unusually, if I was to buy one of these I’d choose some kind of deep metallic red or plain white.
The X6 M50 does benefit from go-faster-looking bits, such as different front and rear bumpers with inserts, side skirts and huge wheels. It’s still weird-looking, though, and from the front does nothing to try and reduce its bulk. It’s a chunker.
The cabin is, of course, huge. In the newly-found tradition of having really nicely built cabins that are also dripping with cool and tech, the X6’s cabin is terrific. While it’s quite grey, there are some nice textures built into the trims and seats to make it a little bit special.
It’s also very comfortable. Broad, accommodating seats both front and rear ensure a limo-like ride for four. Even your drinks can be heated or cooled in the front cupholders.
Behind the back seats is a huge 580 litres, which is a lot considering the roofline. Drop the seats and you get a massive 1530 litres of space. Front and rear rows get a pair of cupholders each and the doors hold a bottle. Under the climate controls you’ll find a rubber wireless charging pad which stops your phone sliding around.
The M50i acts as the halfway-house M Performance model – BMW just announced the M version pricing – and has the spec to match.
The M50i ships with adaptive M suspension which is combined with air suspension. That’s a pretty important inclusion when the X6 is more than 2.2 tonnes and rides on 22-inch alloys.
Wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber, you have 275/30 at the front and 315/30 steamrollers at the back.
There is also an electronic limited-slip diff for some silly fun if you fancy it.
The M50i is a big step up from the six-cylinder 40i. The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 spins up 390kW between 5500 and 600rpm. The exceptional torque peak of 750Nm is available between 1800 and 4600rpm.
That’s, uh, a slab of kick-butt right there. The figures are helped along by two twin-scroll turbos and the usual mapping efforts to get that flat curve. A bi-modal exhaust lets out a bit of noise, too, but nothing too silly. This is the M Performance car, remember.
The eight-speed ZF makes yet another appearance and drives the M version of xDrive. Plant the foot and the X6 M50i will dash from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds.
The amount of 98 RON fuel you’ll need isn’t as substantial as I was expecting. The official figure is a fairly reasonable 10.7L/100km on the WLTP cycle, which generally inhabits this universe. Despite a fairly decent hammering, I got 11.2L/100km. I can’t even get that from a daggy Mitsubishi ASX which I drive at least twice a year for Carsguide and never gets below 12.5L/100km.
When I first punched the throttle in this I don’t mind telling you, I squeaked. For some reason I had it in my head that the M50i was a six-cylinder (look, I was having a bad day). But when the V8 overcame its very tiny amount of lag, boom, it was off.
And I kept doing that. It’s really good fun just burning off from the lights with such joyous whooshing.
And that’s because when you’re in comfort mode, this is a smooth rider. You can puddle about on that big slab of torque without ever waking the beast. On the highway, it bombs along in eighth, barely over idle. The silly big teeth ensure right-lane knuckleheads vacate on approach.
Dial it up to Sport Plus and the suspension reorganises itself to flatten out the body roll and let you loose on the bends with wild abandon. The X6 M50i uses active roll stabilisation to sirt out the roll as well as bumps that only affect one side of the car. It’s very clever.
There’s a little extra, though, that you will notice the first time you turn the wheel – all-wheel steer. BMW gives it a stupid name – Integral Active Steering – but it’s awesome. Not only does it shrink the car in car parks but it also piles on the feeling of security as you barrel around having fun.
Ultimately, the X6 M50i is a fast, capable cruiser with impressive cornering ability. It’s not as fast and, I expect, raw as the X6 M that will be here in a couple of months.
One thing did nag at me, though.
X4 M or X6 M50i?
I had recently driven the X4 M and marvelled at its speed, firm ride and cost. Part of me actually thought that perhaps – just perhaps – some X4 M buyers might be less keen on the X4 M40i and rather keener on this. And only partly because it’s ten grand cheaper. It won’t be for everyone, but this might be money better spent.
Don’t get me wrong – the X4 M will be way more capable in really fast stuff, partly because it’s much smaller but because it’s nearly as powerful and very focussed. If you’re buying the car to really hammer it, the X4 is the one you want.
But if you want the fast family car that will put a smile on your face all the time, consider the X6 M50i. Because also V8.
I was very taken with this car, despite my better judgement. Like the X4, it is not an attractive thing, but BMW takes great pride in being striking rather than pretty in its SUV ranges. It has a fantastic cabin and that V8 engine is never not glorious. I love that engine – flexible, powerful, smooth. Everything a capable tourer needs.
It’s plenty of fun, too, without rustling your jimmies in the rough stuff or disturbing the kiddies’ sleep on the run home from Nan and Pop’s.
And despite being over $150,000, it’s actually a performance bargain. You can’t say that too often about a BMW.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.