For those who want the maximum performance and the maximum utility in the same vehicle, BMW has sharply expanded its range of M-badged Sport Activity Vehicles over the last few years. Now, it’s returning to the originals, the X5 and X6 M bringing them out for 2020 in third-generation form.
The X5 M makes its debut barely a year after the standard-issue version of the midsize crossover got a complete makeover. The “base” version of the X6 crossover-coupe, meanwhile is getting a complete update, as well, for the 2020 model year.
We’ve been catching spy shots of the two for some months, including running footage nabbed at Germany’s Nurburgring. And, as we’ve suspected, these two new models are quick. Real quick, with powertrains that deliver 600 horsepower – bumping up to 617 with the Competition models.
As always, a keen eye will spot some notable visual differences, most functional in nature. That includes larger front bumper intakes to help keep the powertrain cool. The classic BMW double-kidney grilles get the distinctive M-style black double bars. There are M gills on the front fenders, aero side mirrors and flared wheel arches. The two new M models also get distinctive rear diffuser with integrate quad exhausts.
M Competition models take things up another notch with unique grille surrounds, exterior mirror caps, black-finished tailpipes and both a roof and lower tailgate to enhance aerodynamics.
Inside, splashes of red distinguish the M models. Meanwhile, BMW notes, the “center console on the X6 M Competition and X5 M Competition features additional knee padding on the sides.” The M seats can be adjusted in additional ways, and there’s plenty of carbon trim and illuminated sill plates.
Like the more mainstream X5 and X6 models, the Ms both feature 12.3-inch reconfigurable displays and 12.3-inch infotainment screens. One nice touch, the Bavarian automaker says, is the “BMW Live Cockpit Professional running the latest iDrive 7 operating system as standard. This comprehensive suite of integrated connectivity, control and display systems offers the driver and passengers a superb all-round package for interacting with their new X5 M and X6 M vehicle.”
Of course, what really matters is what the two new models share under their hoods: a high-revving, twin-turbocharged S63 V8 engine generating 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s not only up 33 hp but torque hits and holds peak in a much wider band than with the outgoing, second-generation M crossovers. As for the Competition versions, you get another 17 ponies, though torque remains the same.
Power is pushed through a unique Drivelogic eight-speed gearbox into a rear-biased M-tuned all-wheel-drive system with an Active M differential. The AWD system can be tuned to the driver’s liking.
The two models can sprint from 0 to 60 in a blistering 3.8 seconds – with the Competition editions cutting that down by 0.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph – unless you order the optional M Driver’s Package. That not only bumps the top speed up to 177 mph but also gets you an invitation to the driver’s training program at one of the two BMW Performance Center Schools in South Carolina and California.
BMW confirms it was doing extensive suspension tuning on the ‘Ring. Among other things, the X5 M and X6 M get stiffer engine and suspension mounts, extra chassis bracing and other refinements.
All versions of the X5 and X6 M models get BMW’s Adaptive M suspension Professional with Active Roll Stabilization, as well as the M speed-sensitive steering system. Other upgrades include unique compound brakes with drilled and vented 395 mm front disks with fixed six-piston calipers and 380 mm rear disks with single-piston floating calipers.
Staggered 21-inch front and 22-inch rear wheels and tires featuring M Star-Spoke bi-color wheels come standard with the Competition models and are offered as options on the other M editions.
The 2020 BMW X5 M and X6 M models will reach U.S. showrooms next spring. Pricing starts at $105,100 for X5 M and $114,100 for X5 M Competition. It’s $108,600for the X6 M and $117,600 for the X6 M Competition. Add $995 in delivery fees to those numbers.