New BMW X5 M is a gravel travel supercar [photos]

Image by BMW GmbH

BMW’s X5 M and X6 M models are some of the most potent SUVs available and now a range of upgrades have been announced to make them even more powerful.

Although loyal followers of the Bavarian auto brand might take exception to the presence of high-performance SUVs, the reality is that demand for these gravel travel capable luxury vehicles are increasing.

Unable to ignore the powerful market forces shaping this new automotive landscape, BMW tasked its best M-Division engineers to build a range of new X5 and X6 M variants which are true to the brand’s heritage.

BMW new large luxury SUVs ride on the CLAR platform and beyond the dramatic styling, they contain an array of impressive engineering details.

All BMW M-Division vehicles are detailed to look a touch more imposing and with these new high-performance X5 and X6 M models, that design theme is very much evident.

The front styling on both feature huge grille kidneys and enlarged front air intakes. Door mirrors are reshaped too, with a more aerodynamic shape.

Wheel sizes are asymmetric, with the front axle rolling 21-inch alloys and the rear trailing with slightly larger 22-inch wheels. Why the difference in wheel size front and rear? That is because the rear tyres are not only enormously wide, but also have a slightly lower profile than the front, so to ensure perfect rolling balance, the wheel sizes diameters are adjusted.

Competition status mean M5-levels of power

The most pronounced change with these new BMW hyper-fast SUVs are the addition of Competition edition variants. These models are distinguished by having blackened grille details.

Powering the X5 M and X6 M is a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8. This is an engine which has proven its performance credentials with BMW’s legendary M5 and customers will have option on two configurations.

The standard X5 M and X6 M engine will boost 441kW, whilst those with Competition edition badging register 460kW – making them the most powerful BMW SUVs yet.

Interestingly, both the standard X5 M and X6 M models, and their livelier Competition edition offshoots, produce the same peak torque output, at 750Nm.

Enabling this V8 engine architecture to produce performance that does the BMW brand justice, is an intriguing turbocharger configuration.

BMW’s engineers have homed the two turbochargers within the engine’s vee, which benefits airflow efficiency. That means that it spools-up more effortlessly and has an ability to rev to 7200rpm, which is uncharacteristically high for a modern large-displacement turbocharged engine.

X5 M and X6 M will offer balanced performance

To deliver an inspired driving experience, despite these SUVs being quite heavy, BMW’s technical people have added some very clever engineering features.

A variable all-wheel drive system can fluctuate power between the axles and individual rear wheels, to ensure a driving experience which feels akin to that of a traditional rear-wheel drive BMW.

Traction is immense and the Competition edition X5 M and X6 M models are capable of 0-100kph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 290kph, if owners select the optional driver’s package.

Balancing the immense performance potential of these BMWs are huge brakes and trick air-suspension. BMW has fitted 395mm brake discs behind the front wheels, which are the largest in its inventory. The company’s new adaptive brake pressure system is present too, which allows a driver to select how firm they’d like the brake pedal feel to be.

With a kerb weight of nearly 2300kg and all-wheel drive traction, the X5 M and X6 M can apply extreme forces to its suspension components when cornering.

To ensure that these large high-performance SUVs deliver a rewarding driving experience, instead of an ungainly one, there are stiffer suspension mountings, chassis braces and forged linkages. Adaptive dampers and air-suspension combine to help mitigate body roll during high speed cornering.

BMW’s global rollout for these X5 M and X6 M models is scheduled to commence by the second quarter of 2020, which is when you can expect to see the first of these on South African roads.

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