There’s no doubt I’d enjoy driving the BMW X6 M Competition with its 617 horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine and hard knuckles to tackle any challenging road. But, oh boy, that’s an intense way to motor around town or cruise to a vacation spot. Of course, the regular X6 M steps it down a notch, but even that may be a bit cra-zy. Apparently, more than a few BMW customers thought the same because the automaker rolls out a new X6 M50i for 2020. Think of it as the almost-M X6.
Hulking Hulk Of A Crossover
There’s nothing “almost” about the exterior. The hulking hulk of a crossover takes a more couplike roofline than its full-wagon X5 sibling, giving it a much sportier demeanor – kinda like a sci-fi moon buggy ready to battle Porsches back here on Mother Earth. Up front there’s an expansive toothy illuminated version of BMW’s trademark twin-kidney grille, accented by adaptive LED headlamps and menacing ground affects as part of the aero package. Looking long ways, one notices the 21-inch wheels, Shadowline dark trim, and chiseled flanks. The hatchback rump swallows ample luggage and leaves admirers with full eyes.
A Bavarian castle would seem sorely wanting when compared to the X6’s sumptuous cabin. If Heaven smells like the leather, I’ll start being a better boy immediately. And, the dark red hide in our ride was heated, ventilated, and in the front, spoiled with deep massages. Aluminum trim sets it off while four-zone climate control, panoramic moonroof, and crisp Harman Kardon audio enhance travel. Just circle your finger in the air to adjust volume or flick your wrist to change tracks via gesture-recognition controls.
Drivers will be bragging to their therapists about all of the electronics. A flatscreen instrument panel and head-up display make driving easy, as do forward collision warning with crash mitigation, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, and rear cross path detection. One must use BMW’s confusing, but recently less confusing, iDrive infotainment system, but gain access to devices connected via Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, and Wi-Fi hotspot. All nice, but those behind the wheel will delight in the effortless mechanics of driving.
Potent Twin-Turbo V8 Power
Beneath the strapping hood beats a 523 horsepower version of BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission that can be paddle shifted. It may not have quite the power of the pure M versions, but 553 lb.-ft. of torque can still shove 5,115 lbs. of crossover from 0-60 mph in four seconds on the way to a 130 mph top speed. Fuel economy is rated a not-so-frugal 16/22-MPG city/highway. If you can afford the window sticker, you can afford the fuel.
Beyond an eagerly torquey engine, the X6 has some nifty performance tricks. I thought I was losing my mind when I turned into traffic and the rear seemed to slide around. It didn’t; our vehicle has active rear steering to improve handling and parking maneuvers – turns like a compact car. Active roll stabilization and variable-ratio steering do their part too. Variable drive modes adjust throttle response, steering heft, and suspension firmness depending on the driver’s whims. Some of it feels a bit creepy, but the heavy X6 can cut a rug if asked.
Like most great things, there’s nothing inexpensive about the X6 M50i. It starts at $86,945, but we added the Dynamic Handling Package ($2,600), ventilated/massage seats ($1,200), and Premium Package with head-up display/gesture controls ($1,250) among others. All in, it barely misses six figures at $97,195.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.
2020 BMW X6 M50i
- Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 4.2-liter TTV8, 8-spd trans
- Output: 523hp/553 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Elect Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 21”/21” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Chassis, Style
- 0-60 mph: 4.0s
- Fuel economy: 16/22 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Spartanburg, SC
- Base/As-tested price: $86,945/$97,195