What are they?
The latest performance SUVs are BMW’s latest answer to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Mercedes ML63 AMG. Falling in line with the recent updates to the rest of the X5 and X6 ranges, they receive numerous styling, performance and efficiency tweaks.
Looks-wise, there is plenty to distinguish these two brutes from lesser X5 and X6 models. At the front, a new bumper is dominated by enormous air intakes that help cool the engine, while along the sides redesigned front wings feature air ducts behind the wheel arches to relieve pressure around the wheels.
Body-coloured arches and beefier-looking sills add some aggression to the sides, while a bolder rear bumper design and four tailpipes finish the look at the rear. Huge 20-inch alloy wheels are offered as standard, while 21-inchers are available as an an option. These are wrapped in steamroller-esque 285mm-wide tyres at the front, with even wider 325mm items at the rear. A subtle 10mm drop in ride height completes the look.
That isn’t the only change M Division have made to the suspension. A variety of bespoke components, such as new upper front wishbones, aim to provide more control over body movement under hard cornering. Self-leveling air suspension at the rear keeps everything stable during enthusiastic driving, or even if you want to tow a large caravan at silly speeds. Electrically adjustable dampers cater to your mood, being that they that can be set to either Comfort, Sport or yet firmer Sport + modes.
The four-wheel-drive system can move 100% of power to either front or rear axle depending on conditions. The normal setting tends toward a rearward bias, to offer a similar feel to more traditional rear-wheel drive BMWs. All of this work contributes to cornering forces that BMW claim allow the X5 and X6 M to pull as much as 1.2g in corners – frankly absurd grip that’ll probably have your passengers hailing a taxi at the first opportunity.
Inside, everything remains largely similar to the cabins of regular X5 and X6 models. There’s a nice new steering wheel here, a little carbon fibre there, but overall everything remains stylish and well screwed together.
What’s under the bonnet?
As with all M cars, one would expect there to be a special engine lurking behind those imposing kidney grilles, and the X5 M and X6 M don’t disappoint. The latest versions share the twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre monster that also resides under the bonnet of the M5 and M6. Here, it produces 575hp from 6,000 to 6,500 rpm, while a wide torque spread tops out at 553lb-ft between 2,200 and 5,000rpm.
Not that the previous X5 and X6 M were lacking in power, these figures represent increases of 23hp and 52lb-ft over the old cars. This also means that these BMWs muster 51hp more than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Despite weighting 90kg more than the Porsche (80kg in the case of the X6 M) they now match its 4.2 second 0-60mph time. Top speed is limited to 155mph, though for the benefit of the truly impatient, BMW offer the option to remove that nannying device, upping top speed to 174mph.
Despite the storming performance, fuel economy has been significantly improved. Claimed figures have risen from the 20.3mpg of the old model to 25.5mpg, while CO2 figures now stand at a (still substantial) 258g/km.
Much of these gains can be attributed to the latest eight-speed double clutch automatic gearbox, which offers better spaced ratios and longer gearing than the previous six-speed.
How much will they cost?
Prices start at £90,179 for the X5 M and an even more eye-watering £93,070 for the X6 M.