Are you in the market for a high-performance SUV with a fast roofline? Is the 600-horsepower BMW X6 M not quite enough? Well, don't worry, BMW has just the thing: the 2020 BMW X6 M Competition, which offers a touch more power, tighter chassis tuning and a little more style, too.
Like its squared-off X5 M Competition sibling, the X6 M Competition packs substantial firepower under its hood. BMW's familiar 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is here, packing 617 horsepower. Torque matches that of the non-Competition model, checking in at 553 pound-feet available between 1,800 and 5,690 rpm.
Flick the engine into its Sport or Sport Plus setting and performance is ample, with zero quibbles about boost lag. Drop the hammer and the X6 M Competition romps to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, which is one-tenth of a second quicker than the regular X6 M. Triple-digit speeds happen in a hurry, and will eventually top out at 177 mph with available M Driver's Package, the two-mode active exhaust system putting out a grumble all the while. Without the Driver's Package, things stop pulling at just 155 mph.
Routing power through the M-tuned, rear-biased all-wheel-drive system is an eight-speed automatic transmission. As usual, the ZF-sourced gearbox goes about its business seamlessly, ripping off quick and well-timed shifts in full-automatic mode, and offers respectable up- and downshifts in manual mode most of the time. Occasionally, there's a split-second delay when I summon a lower gear with the left shift paddle.
No doubt, there's no shortage of muscle in the Competition for the street, or even a racetrack if an owner decides to throw the swoopy people-mover on one for whatever reason. For high-load situations like that, the drivetrain should keep its cool, delivering consistent performance with the help of six radiators, four water pumps and a dedicated transmission cooler.
But what's equally important is that the drivetrain does have a kinder, gentler side. Select the Efficiency setting and the X6 moves along in a respectable manner. It's quiet, the transmission short shifting up gears for optimal fuel economy, returning an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. Throughout a week of mixed driving on surface streets and expressway runs, I observed 15 mpg, matching the EPA's combined-cycle rating. Not exactly tree-hugging levels of efficiency, but not horrific, all things considered.
If you think the Competition's engine and transmission offer a lot of adjustability, wait until you dive into the chassis menus. For those who like to tinker, they'll love the ability to manipulate the three-mode dampers, two-mode steering and two-mode brakes individually of one another. I personally think that's overkill, and like-minded individuals can still just punch up a preprogrammed profile for everything and roll out.
Dial everything up to full kill and the X6 handles well for a tall hatchback, weighing in at 5,375 pounds. There's an acceptable amount of body shift at turn in, as well as noticeable dive under braking. The mammoth, staggered 295/35ZR21 front and 315/30ZR22 rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires provide all the grip anyone will responsibly need for spirited street driving.
The X6's steering is where BMW drops the ball. In the Sport setting, it offers some weight, but is missing out when it comes to feel and feedback. Having two brake performance profiles is also interesting -- the Sport setting makes it difficult to brake smoothly on the street. But there's a lot of braking power on offer, with six-piston front calipers biting down on big old 15.5-inch vented and cross-drilled rotors and single-piston rear calipers with 14.9-inch vented and drilled discs.
Like the drivetrain, when you're not totally going for it the chassis can be relaxed. Put everything in Comfort and the ride quality softens to smooth out small impacts. You'll still hear audible thuds from most of the expansion joins you come across on the big tires, though. Steering weight lightens with a slight delay in response off center that's fine for puttering around town. And the brake pedal offers far better ability to modulate stopping power for smoother braking.
To visually backup its rousing performance credentials and set itself apart from lesser versions, the X6 M wears an exclusive front bumper with bigger air intake openings, a larger kidney grille with black bars, flared wheel arches, M front fender gills, aero side mirrors and a rear diffuser with quad exhaust outlets. The Competition takes things a small step further with awesome M star-spoke wheels and black badging, mirror caps, rear diffuser and exhaust pipes.
There are some first-class luxury appointments inside, too. The Competition comes standard with full Merino leather on the seats and dashboard, M steering wheel and shifter, with tri-color accent stitching, carbon fiber trim, an Alcantara headliner and panoramic sunroof. My test car also sports supremely comfortable and supportive M front seats with three-stage heating and ventilation, and a massage function that's great to have on journeys both long and short. Even the front cup holders are heated and cooled.
Minus the big blind spots due to the X6's fast roofline, the cabin offers lots of flexibility. Space is serviceable for occupants in front and back, with enough headroom still for average-height adults in the rear. There's plenty of cubbies to stash items and generous cargo-carrying capacity. While the trunk area isn't as tall as the X5, it's still deep, providing 27.4 cubic feet of space, which grows to 59.6 with the back seats down.
On the technology front, the M Competition is packed full of it. Infotainment centers around BMW's iDrive 7 software on a 12.3-inch center touchscreen, which can also be managed via the dial on the center console or gesture controls. It's got navigation, an optional Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound setup, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay capabilities. And since it's the latest iDrive 7 system, it'll also be able to run wireless Android Auto soon. While it might be overwhelming at first, iDrive is a responsive and intuitive interface to work through with vibrant graphics.
There's also no shortage of power points sprinkled throughout the X6's interior, with a wireless charge pad, USB-A, USB-C and 12-volt sockets easily accessible to folks in front. People in the rear have a 12-volt outlet on the back of the center console that really should be a couple of USB ports instead nowadays.
The driver-assistance menu is also sizable. Blind-spot monitoring helps with the X6's mondo sightline issues, and lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors and a 360-degree camera are standard fare. Things like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, active side collision protection and BMW's Extended Traffic Jam Assistant -- which can accelerate, steer and stop the car at below 40 mph in heavy traffic situations -- are available.
If my heart was dead-set on a X6 M Competition, which has a $9,000 price premium over the standard X6 M, I'd resist the urge to get too carried away with options. A Marina Bay Blue metallic paint job is a no-cost hue, as is the black and Midrand Beige interior combo. The lone option box I will check is for the $3,600 Executive Package because massaging heated and cooled front seats and remote engine start are worth it. All in, my Competition rings in at $122,195, including $995 for destination, to undercut the $131,745 test car you see pictured here.
Yes, the 2020 X6 M Competition is the most potent and capable X6 BMW has built to date. Throw in the fact that the third-generation X6 is the best looking one yet (admittedly, not a very high bar) and sports a cushy interior chock full of creature comforts, and it makes it an excellent and very fast daily driver. But as entertaining as stomping the throttle and shooting well past posted speed limits is, this X6 isn't exceptionally fun or rewarding to push hard and really drive. For anyone looking for an experience like that, something in the Porsche Cayenne Coupe lineup will serve them better.