Automobiles

BMW debuts spectacular SUV performance with X5 M, X6 M

At the upcoming Los Angeles auto show, BMW will introduce the latest generation of its X5 M and X6 M SUVs, which exhibit sports-car-like performance.

BMW
BMW X5 M and X6 M
BMW debuts its X5 M and X6 M high-performance SUVs at the Los Angeles auto show. BMW

In 2009, BMW released two physics-defying monsters, the X5 M and the X6 M, high performance versions of what it calls "sports activity vehicles." At the 2014 Los Angeles auto show, we will witness the latest generation of these incredible cars.

BMW recently updated the X5 and X6, two fraternal twins in the lineup, and now will give a world debut to their respective M versions. The X5 is a traditional midsize SUV, while the X6, riding on similar running gear, shows off a coupe-inspired body style.

The M versions of these cars come with more powerful engines, functional external styling and adaptive suspension systems that increase handling performance. Both cars get 4.4-liter V-8 engines, each with twin turbochargers using twin scrolls in each housing, direct injection and BMW's unique VANOS valve control technology. This engine has been tuned for a 567-horsepower peak from 6,000 to 6,500rpm, and 553 pound-feet of torque coming on at 2,200 and up to 5,000rpm. BMW does not have EPA fuel economy ratings for these cars yet, but it notes that under European standards testing, they achieved 20 percent better fuel economy than their predecessors.

The only transmission available is an eight-speed automatic, unlike the dual-clutch transmissions of other BMW M cars relying on a torque converter. Rather than a slow-shifting slushbox, however, these transmissions are likely to perform quick gear changes and offer very aggressive sport modes, similar to their predecessors. BMW's press release notes that this transmission is designed to operate like its dual clutch transmission. The latter does not have a Park setting, but works more like a manual transmission.

The magic of the previous X5 M and X6 M models was their adaptive suspensions. The new vehicles not only use adaptive dampers to counteract roll, but also a rear air suspension, which should enhance comfort. The cars' all-wheel-drive systems can shunt 100 percent of torque between the front and rear axles, although the cars default to a rear-drive bias.

As in other BMW M vehicles, the new X5 M and X6 M feature multiple Dynamic Stability Control settings, which can allow varying degrees of drift when cornering. Likewise, the electric power steering system includes Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings.

The 2016 BMW X5 M and X6 M will debut at the 2014 Los Angeles auto show. These cars will hit dealerships in Spring of next year, with a base price of $99,650 for the X5 M and $103,050 for the X6 M. CNET will be on hand for the cars' unveiling at the Los Angeles auto show press preview on November 19.