523 hp, 5,115 lbs and an illuminated kidney grille. You know a BMW X6 M50i review on Bimmerfile isn’t going to gloss over those two figures and that illuminated grille. Those three data-points really do tell you a lot about this crossover’s attitude. It’s a blindingly fast, massive crossover with a coupe-like roofline and aggressive styling that would have been considered too garish 10-15 years ago. Yet it’s also a refined and comfortable cruiser that is as docile as anything BMW makes. In short this the answer for someone who wants it all. Or at least that’s what BMW has intended it to be. Can it possibly deliver on it all?
You’ll read many reviews that pan the X6 M50i for its size and weight. Then you’ll read some call out its ride, and even one or two that question the volume out of its exhaust. The reality is that the X6 M50i is the sweet spot that is meant to combine attributes of a SUV and a classic BMW sports sedan. Or, in other words, for the person who has one garage spot but many needs – BMW wants this to be your car.
Can it possibly live up to those expectations? In terms of raw data it surprisingly does.
Let’s start with performance. The X6 M50i is as quick as the previous X6M. Let that sink in for a moment. This 5,000 lbs SUV can reach 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and effortlessly top out at 155 mph before hitting its speed limiter. And in our time with car, it feels even faster. Providing that thrust is the twin-turbo V8 producing 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Putting in perspective of the range, that’s up almost 200 hp over the 335 hp X6 40i yet down 77 hp on the base M versions.
Perhaps even more impressive is how this engine feels. Despite the twin turbos there’s virtually no lag and it is surprisingly eager to rev all the way to its redline. Getting you there is the latest version of the excellent ZF 8 speed automatic which neatly threads the needle between everyday comfort and brute force gear changes depending on settings.
It all adds up to a car that feels even faster than the numbers would indicate. The snarling and cracking exhaust (supported by the artificial engine noises coming from under-seat speakers) helps give the driver even more sensation of speed and power. Not that it’s needed mind you.
Inside, our test car delivered total comfort over the 800 miles we managed to put on it over the course of a week. The heated, cooled, and massaging seats did the trick as did the extended leather throughout the cabin. While there’s technically less room in the X6 due to the sloping roof, the hatch is still massive and delivers on the promise of utility you’ll want if this is your unicorn.
One thing we weren’t expecting to fall for is the latest version of BMW’s Active Driving Assistant Pro which not only uses radar cruise to control speed and lane guidance to follow the road but also can change lanes on command. That last bit starts to bring the pieces together and creates (for the first time) a very appealing autonomy option – a first for BMW. It may not sound like much when compared to Tesla or Cadillac but the combination of those features does make long-haul highway driving less taxing.
Why get the X6 M50i over the X5 version? It has nothing to do with performance – lets get that out of the way now. It‘s all about style and rarity. This a car that will sell at fractions of the X5’s volumes and intended to evoke a much more style and performance conscious vibe.
Does it make sense at almost $100k? To us it does not, even when considering what else BMW sells at that price. An M5? Lightly used examples go for around that mark all day long. But it’s natural (if not unlikely) rival is the M850i Gran Coupe. Same drivetrain and a similar ethos of a single vehicle that can do it all. While you give up the practicality of the hatch, you gain performance and elegance in spades.
But if your heart is set on a crossover, then the X6 M50i is a pretty attractive beast. While it doesn’t have the ultimate performance of the full X6M, it delivers more than most will ever need on the road while being more comfortable, slightly more efficient and $20k cheaper. And putting it all in historical context, the X6 M50i is a vehicle that would’ve hardly been imaginable 10-15 years ago. The acceleration, grip and the relative comfort is nothing short of astounding in the right context. Rivals likes the Audi SQ8 and AMG GLE 53 Coupe both make due with less power and decidedly less performance. They also don’t feel as driver focused as the X6 M50i which brings elements of the M ethos to the masses quite successfully.
Our admiration grew greatly over the course of a week and almost 1,000 miles. While we’re always going to be more apt to choose a sedan or wagon (if only BMW would import them), the X6 M50i brings legitimate driving appeal to a class of vehicles that rarely has it. Which brings us back to the original concept – a car that can do it all. Does the X6 M50i live up to those lofty goals. If you’re looking for a vehicle that you can daily drive, road-trip, tow and even (gasp) track, it’s hard to think of anything else this capable.