Both the BMW X5 M50i and X6 M50i are a flawed concepts. Big and heavy with shoehorned sporting pretensions. Worse of the two is the X6 with offers a higher base MSRP and less utility. Then there’s the big brothers, the full M version with 77 more hp and all the M Division modifications. Do the M50i models get lost between the M noise and the already good X40i entry levels versions? Or do they thread the needle finding the perfect balance between performance and everyday usability? Let’s find out.
The BMW X5 M50i
The BMW X5 is the brand’s bread and butter when it comes to sales and profit. Love it or hate it, the X5 is exceptional at what it’s intended to do. While the classic BMW wagon would make much more sense in 99% of the uses-cases, the BMW X5 M50i offers what consumers want while giving them the dynamics that would be hardly believable ten years ago.
This new version turns it all up. The interior and exterior design has gone from handsome to aggressive or more distinctive than the F15 it replaces. While performance is up across the model range, it’s particularly impressive here. The highlight is the twin-turbo V8 producing 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s up almost 200 hp over the 335 hp X5 40i yet down 77 hp on the base M versions. What that 532 hp means is that this beast of a vehicle can effortlessly sprint to 60 mph in under four seconds.
Let that sink in for a moment. The fact that both these crossovers can do that while weighing in at over 5300 lbs is impressive. But the more impressive thing is the way it goes about that performance. Despite the fire breathing engines, they are incredibly docile around town and in traffic. Beyond the lack of efficiency (we saw 15 mpg in our time with both), there’s simply nothing you give up for this level of performance.
Compare that with the X5 M (which we had a very brief go in recently) and you come away wondering if the M50i isn’t the sweet spot of the range with its more comfortable ride and smooth reactions to inputs.
In our brief time with the X5 M50i, we’re not afraid to admit we fell in love with the concept of a wolf in sheep’s clothing in the form of a family crossover. Day to day, I can’t imagine needing more performance than what the M50i offers. But perhaps its best trait is what it doesn’t give up. There’s utility and everyday comfort here along with all the technology you could ask for outside of a more advanced autonomous driving system.
The BMW X6 M50I
Swapping the fob for the X6 M50i felt a bit anti-climactic. The X5 M50i performs identically yet offers more utility and is cheaper by almost $5,000. How could I not come away preferring the X5 I thought?
BMWUSA sold 4,240 X6s last year compared to 54,595 X5s. So we’re not the only ones who, on paper, can’t quite figure out why you’d want an X6. But spending some time living with the X6 in M50i trim unlocked a few things for us.
The wold is full of X5s. Even if you throw some M badges on the flanks, 21″ wheels and give it 523 hp you still feel like you see yourself coming and going on a daily basis. The X6 doesn’t have that problem. Considering that BMW sold more 8 Series than X6s last year, this is a fairly rare car. And that does count for something.
Then there’s the design. Where the first generation could have been considered awkward, the second generation finally paid off the concept. This third generation of the X6 however achieves more visual differentiation from the X5 and feels more unique because of it.
Things are a bit tighter in the back with legroom very slightly down and noticeably less headroom. However, it’s the trunk where things are truly differentiated. The X6’s storage area has roughly the same footprint, but much less volume due to the sloping rear roof. While things like a 3rd row are out, the X6 M50i can still be optioned with things like a spare tire and even a tow hitch.
What Does M Performance Give the X5 and X6?
The X5 M50i and X6 M50i start at $82,150 and $85,650 – that’s around $8k more than the standard 50i models and about $20k less than the full M versions. So what do you get for your $80k? Both of these models feature the new top version of the N63 4.4L TwinPower Turbo V8 engine backed by the well known eight-speed sport automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive. Unique to the M50i models are a M Sport differential, M Sport exhaust system and model-specific M suspension tuning.
This latest generation of the 4.4-liter V8 features numerous improvements. At the heart are two “hot-v” twin-scroll turbochargers with charge air cooling, High Precision Injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing. The result is an engine that delivers 523 hp between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm and 553 lb-ft of torque between 1,800 – 4,600 rpm. – an increase of 67 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque over the X5 xDrive50i and X7 xDrive50i models.
To handle this newfound power is a new aluminum alloy has been used to increase the strength of the engine block. The wire-arc sprayed iron coating for the cylinder walls serves to reduce frictional losses. Reinforced, Grafal-coated pistons and optimized piston rings are designed to endure the stress on the crank drive that comes with the extra output and torque. To enhance engine smoothness, torsional vibration is minimized with the help of a viscous damper on the crankshaft.
The BMW X5 M50i and X6 M50i are incredible machines that give you all the day to day performance you need in a crossover without any sacrifices. While our time with both was short, we came away wondering why anyone would need to spend the extra $20k on the full M versions. These aren’t track cars, and they’ve not intended for spirited backroad drives either. Instead they thread the needle between performance, every day usability, and price in a way that no other BMW can.
By applying the M Performance formula to the X5 and X6, BMW M has created high performance crossovers that are docile and even utilitarian on a daily basis. They aren’t as razor sharp or buttoned down as full M crossovers, but these modifications create exceptional daily drivers that might just be the ideal form of the X5 and X6.
2020 BMW X6 Sports Activity Vehicle
|X6 sDrive40i||X6 xDrive40i||X6 M50i|
|Number of Doors||—||4||4||4|
|Width including mirrors||inches||87.1||87.1||87.1|
|Shoulder width front||inches||60||60||60|
|Shoulder room rear||inches||57.7||57.7||57.7|
|Trunk volume||ft³||27.4 – 59.6||27.4 – 59.6||27.4 – 59.6|
|Fuel Tank capacity||gallons||21.9||21.9||21.9|
|Gross vehicle weight||lbs.||6,063||6,173||6,658|
|Valves per cylinder||—||4||4||4|
|at rpm||1/min||5,500 – 6,500||5,500 – 6,500||5,500 – 6,000|
|Engine torque||ft. lbs.||330||330||553|
|at rpm||1/min||1,500 – 5,200||1,500 – 5,200||1,800 – 4,600|
|Engine oil capacity||quarts||7.3||7.3||11.7|
|Output per liter||hp/liter||111.7||111.7||119|
|Gear ratios 1st gear||—||5.25||5.25||5.5|
|Final drive ratio||—||3.39||3.39||3.15|
|Steering ratio||:1||18.7||16.4 – 18.7||16.4 – 18.7|
|Tires, standard, front / rear||—||275/45R20 A/S||275/45R20 A/S||275/45R20 A/S|
|Wheels, standard, front / rear||inches||9.0 x 20||9.0 x 20||9.0 x 20|
|Tires, optional, 21 front||275/40R21 Perf.||275/40R21 Perf.||275/40R21 Perf.|
|Tires, optional, 21 rear||315/35R21 Perf.||315/35R21 Perf.||315/35R21 Perf.|
|Wheels, opt., 21 front / rear||inches||9.5 x 21 / 10.0 X 21||9.5 x 21 / 10.0 x 21||9.5 x 21 / 10.0 x 21|
|Tires, optional, 22 front||275/35R22 Perf.||275/35R22 Perf.||275/35R22 Perf.|
|Tires, optional, 22 rear||315/30R22 Perf.||315/30R22 Perf.||315/30R22 Perf.|
|Wheels, opt., 22 front / rear||inches||9.5 x 22 / 10.5 x 22||9.5 x 22 / 10.5 x 22||9.5 x 22 / 10.5 x 22|
|Top speed (w/perf. tires)||mph||130 (155)||130 (155)||130 (155)|
|Fuel Economy, city / hwy||mpg||tbd||tbd||tbd|
2020 BMW X5 M50i and X7 M50i
|X5 M50i||X7 M50i|
|Number of Doors||—||5||5|
|Width including mirrors||inches||87.3||87.3|
|Approach angle front||degrees||23.9||23.1|
|Departure angle rear||degrees||21.6||20.5|
|Shoulder width front||inches||60||60|
|Shoulder room 2nd row||inches||58.1||58.1|
|Shoulder room 3rd row||Inches||—||47.9|
|Legroom 2nd row||inches||37.4||37.6|
|Legroom 3rd row||inches||—||33.3|
|Headroom 2nd row||inches||38.7||39.9|
|Headroom 3rd row||inches||—||36.6|
|Trunk volume||ft³||33.9 – 72.3||48.6 – 90.4|
|Fuel Tank capacity||gallons||21.9||21.9|
|Gross vehicle weight||lbs.||6,559||7,319|
|Tow capacity with 3rd party hitch||lbs.||5,950||5,950|
|Tow capacity with factory hitch||lbs.||7,200||7,500|
|Valves per cylinder||—||4||4|
|at rpm||1/min||5,500 – 6,000||5,500 – 6,000|
|Engine torque||ft. lbs.||553||553|
|at rpm||1/min||1,800 – 4,600||1,800 – 4,600|
|Engine oil capacity||quarts||11.1||11.1|
|Output per liter||hp/liter||125.8||125.8|
|Gear ratios 1st gear||—||5.5||5.5|
|Final drive ratio||—||3.15||3.15|
|Tires, standard front||275/40R20 A/S||275/45R22 Perf.|
|Tires, standard rear||275/40R20 A/S||315/35R22 Perf.|
|Wheels, standard front & rear||inches||9.0 x 20||9.5 x 22 / 10.5 x 22|
|Tires, optional front||275/40R21 Perf.||285/45R21 A/S|
|Tires, optional rear||315/35R21 Perf.||285/45R21 A/S|
|Wheels, optional front & rear||inches||9.5 x 21 / 10.0 x 21||9.5J x 21 / 9.5J x 21|
|Tires, optional front||275/35R22 Perf.||—|
|Tires, optional rear||315/30R22 Perf.||—|
|Wheels, optional front & rear||inches||9.5 x 22 / 10.5 x 22||—|
|Top speed (all-season / perf. tires)||mph||130 / 155||130 / 155|