Here at evo we have a grudging respect for the BMW X6 M. Like a lot of modern performance 4x4s, BMW’s old SUV-cum-coupe was a capable and accomplished car on the road despite its high ground clearance and even higher centre of gravity. But the X6 M’s rivals have grown even more skilled, so inevitably there’s a new version of BMW’s low-roofed SUV on its way, and a disguised prototype has already been spotted testing on the roads in Germany.
The shape, size and silhouette of the new BMW X6 M is similar to that of the old car; the patterned wrap the car has been photographed in can’t hide that. The biggest change that we can see, however, is the two kidney grilles. Much like the latest production and concept cars from the Munich manufacturer, the distinctive BMW grilles on the front of the car are huge. On this prototype the vertical bars are finished in chrome, but we expect the production version to have dual black bars, like other modern M-cars.
Subscribe to evo magazine
Despite the shiny grilles, it’s clear this is a full-blooded M-car, rather than just a regular X6, thanks to a few of its visible exterior details. First, there’s the door mirrors with a flick on the inside edge pointing toward the A-pillar – each car in BMW’s M range now gets similar-style door mirrors. Around the back of the coupe SUV there’s the trademark quad-exit exhaust pipes that have been on every BMW M-car since the E39 M5, too.
This prototype X6 M sits on some large – possibly 21-inch diameter – wheels. But not only are the wheels tall, they’re also wide, and flared extensions have been added around the wheelarches to cover the wheel’s width.
The images don’t reveal what engine will power this next-generation X6 M, but, as the previous version borrowed the engine from the contemporary M5, we can safely assume this car will do the same. That will mean under the bonnet there’s likely to be a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged hot-V V8 with at least 592bhp and 553lb ft of torque.
Where the previous M5 and X5 M differed was their drivetrain; the SUV didn’t have the same seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and rear-wheel drive, instead it opted for a SUV-friendly eight-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. But the new version of the super saloon now has a set-up not dissimilar to the old X6 M with an eight-speed torque-converter auto and all-wheel drive, albeit with selectable rear-wheel drive. As such, it’s very likely the X6 M will adopt a similar, if not the same, drivetrain as the current M5. We doubt that the rear-wheel-drive mode will be carried over to the SUV, but we can’t help but think that might be rather fun, and, really, no more ludicrous than the concept of a performance SUV with a coupe roofline.
When it hits the road – sometime next year, possibly – the X6 M will be a direct rival to Mercedes-AMG's GLE 63 S Coupe. If the X6 M has exactly the same power as the regular M5 (593bhp), it will significantly outgun the Merc that has 'only' 577bhp.
Pictures of the upcoming regular, non-M X6 have also surfaced. Like the performance version, the car is disguised by a psychedelic wrap but it’s clear that the bodywork and bumpers aren’t as aggressive as the M-car’s and the mirrors and exhausts are far less distinctive. The enormous pair of grilles up-front do look the same, however.
The non-M version might not get the almost 600bhp V8 that the X6 M does, but there’s likely to be a range of respectably powerful engines. BMW’s venerable 355bhp 3-litre straight six, found in the X3 M40i and others, will probably make an appearance in the X6. So too will the non-M 4.4-litre V8 from the M550i – we may not get that specific 5-series here in the UK but the old X6 was available with that motor so we hope to see it again in the SUV.
There will undoubtedly be diesel engines, too – the 3-litre straight six in 261bhp 30d-guise as well as the 380bhp-plus M50d version are both expected to feature in the next-gen BMW X6.