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      11-18-2010, 12:52 PM   #1
hifiguy
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Cool X6M vs E46 M3​ - M Power Tour Experience



[I don't usually contribute here on Bimmerpost but thought I'd share my recent experience with an X6M.]


I'm sure you guys have heard of the M Power Tour going around the country and allowing people to test drive their M vehicles in a no-strings-attached, enjoy-and-drive type event. These events have been held for a few years and, even though I've had my E46 M3 since 2004, this year was the first time I got invited.

BMW NA sent a postcard invitation​ that listed three possible vehicles for the test drive: the E92 M3, X5M, and X6M. Since the X6 styling was the most badass, that's the one I RSVP'd for. I know, I know, what's the point of slapping an M badge on a SUV? Well, one of the M-brand managers said the target demographic were M drivers who had to settle for boring SUVs in their garages. Since one of my daily drivers is a 5MT 4Runner, which I use to plow through the dilapidated streets of downtown LA, I had a feeling the X6M might be up my pothole-ridden alley.





ROUND 1: EXTERIOR

So on a sunny Saturday morning, my wife and I drove out to the Marconi Auto Museum in Tustin, CA. While I was hoping the air strip​ next door would be the venue for the test drive, we were informed that city streets would have to suffice. There were a few race cars on display, along with pristine examples of an E93 M3 and X5M. Both cars must have been polished recently because the Melbourne red and Monte Carlo blue were simply stunning in the bright sunlight, even my wife said she wouldn't mind driving the MC blue. Moving onto the X6M, it is one of those cars that simply must be seen in person to appreciate; they truly have a larger-than-life presence. The front fascia was menacing with its bulging hood, wide flared kidneys, and three monstrous air ducts below. Although the wheel arches were cavernous, their flat profiles paled in comparison to the ones found on the E46 M3. The rugged side view mirrors complimented the aggressive front bumper but the side markers appeared like an afterthought since they were not molded into place. Gawking at the towering rear hatch, one word came to mind: ostentatious. It seemed like a mashup between The Wall from American Gladiators and Akira's bike on steroids. This vehicle is insanely huge but, somehow, BMW's designers have managed to dress it up as the cooler younger brother of the AMC Eagle. Being that I consider the E46 M3 design the last bastion of classic BMW styling, what with the offset bumpers, integrated splitters, and bulging cowl and wheel arches, the X6M does its best to pay homage to the boxy design of earlier bimmers.

WINNER: TIE





ROUND 2: INTERIOR

After registering and listening to a presentation on the current M vehicles, we were led to the test area and eagerly awaited our turn. We compared the interiors of the X5M and X6M and the only discernible differences were the reduced rear seating and shorter trunk space on the X6M. Although the cabin appeared small from outside, once we sat inside it was actually quite spacious, with the perforated leather seats providing firm yet comfortable support; certainly much more plush then the M3 seats. The M steering wheel was huge, almost school bus sized, and the center console was filled with a dizzying array of buttons; although the his & her A/C controls finally allowed me to remain chilly while my wife enjoyed a warmer setting. Due to the absence of an e-brake handle, there was enough elbow room for a game of Battleship along with Texas-sized cup holders placed side-by-side. The leather-padded gauge housing actually appeared smaller than the M3's, but that might have been due to the heads-up display electronics. Adjusting the side view mirrors really demonstrated how much area was captured by them; they were HUGE and could have rival​ed the capabilities of the Hubble telescope. But as for the rear-view mirror, imagine masking off the top and bottom thirds, all you are left with is watching Lawrence of Arabia. While it got the job done in street traffic, backing up required neck stretching in two directions since I was not used to the backup camera. Also, good luck spotting the popo while on the highway; I doubt the rear-view mirror would provide much assistance. As much as I enjoyed the plush captain's chairs and exterior vanity mirrors, the driver-centric cabin of the M3 takes the lead.

WINNER: E46 M3

ROUND 3: TRANSMISSION

The X6M uses a 6-speed automatic transmission that supports manual shifting via true M paddle shifters, not the push-pull kind found on other models. In order to shift out of Park and into Reverse or Drive, you must simultaneously push-and-hold an Unlock button, similar to generic automatics but a departure from SMG and DCT. Once you are in Drive, you have to move the shifter to the left in order to toggle into manual mode; again, it was counter intuitive coming from an SMG or DCT system. One last thing, when shifting via the paddles there was a distinct tactile click at the end of each movement; e.g. shift-up, click, shift-down, click. I found these especially distracting and they ended up interrupting my otherwise pleasant driving experience. In contrast, the SMG paddles are smooth and silent in their actuation, with the only tactile feedback being the occasional clutch engagement thump. The one redeeming quality was the butterly smooth gear changes in either auto or manual mode; I had almost forgotten it was an automatic box.

WINNER: TIE



ROUND 4: THE DRIVE

After a pep talk from a BMW rep, I stepped on the brake and held down the Start button. A moderate but forceful growl emerged from the engine bay. "Try it out on automatic, then manual, and then use the M button," we were told. As I shifted into reverse and ignored the green projection paths from the backup cam, I was surprised at how smoothly the X6M turned and moved; there were no sudden movements or jerkiness. Pulling out of the parking lot and down a local street, my wife and I were both bemused: the ride quality was extremely smooth and comfortable, almost like riding on air, yet the flow of power was consistent and predictable. Turning onto a wider road, I slowly pressed the gas and the X6M steadily accelerated. The gear shifts were seamless, we were not thrown around the seats, and, most importantly, there was ZERO turbo lag! Having driven a 135i, I could easily feel the lag on that one, but here there was absolutely none...at any...point...in time. (If the 5th generation M3 behaves similarly, BMW is on the right road.) As we took another side street, this time I gave it more gas and the X6M reacted briskly but composed and the steering was smooth and responsive, although not as sensitive as the M3. However, there was no weight transfer, or weight at all for that matter, that was felt while maneuvering the X6M between lanes and through corners; no doubt attributed to the torque vectoring and air suspension. Switching into manual mode, I would have sworn the gearbox had dual clutches as rowing up and down the gears produced no bucking at all, except for the occasional lunge when I inappropriately downshifted into second gear. Even with a 7K redline, I never ran out of room when accelerating through the local streets. An unexpected bonus was the heads-up display, which was moderately visible under the high noon sunlight. The display showed the tachometer along with the current gear, but I could not get acclimated to the display because it forced me to stare below the center line of the windshield, not to mention the depth of field was a few feet beyond the hood of the car. I am sure a properly adjusted seat would have helped but I wonder if the HUD includes some positioning options as well. Having gotten acquainted with the pace of the car, I was ready to experience the full 555 HP. After pressing the M button and seeing a green M icon appear on the dash, I mashed the pedal to about 70% WOT while in second gear...WOAH! We were quickly thrust into the back of our seats as the X6M whooshed forward with plenty of power still on reserve. Weighing in at over 5,000 pounds, this behemoth sure moved like a Kraken at a human smorgasbord. Quick lane changes did not throw off its composure and last minute right-turns transpired without tire squeal or body roll. Somehow, you forgot that you were driving a Canyonero and focused on avoiding the traffic below you. As for braking, I attempted to overshoot the crosswalks but the 15" discs provided short stopping distances and at no time was the vehicle's balance unsettled. With city mileage listed in the low teens, I'm guessing the 22-gallon tank would last about a week with the M button on. Lastly, I must add that throughout the entire test drive, the X6M remained as calm as Steve McQueen during a roadside smack down. Achieving such performance in an E46 M3 would take significant modification and although the drive itself was a bit too effortless​, the thrill remained there nonetheless.

WINNER: X6M

CONCLUSION​

Before deciding the tiebreaker, the purpose of the X6M must be understood, and it was only after driving this thing that my initial suspicions were confirmed. Yes, there are only two rear seats and, yes, the trunk space only fits the contortionist from Ocean's Eleven. Dubious to traveling families at the Palazzo, the X6M is not the choice to accommodate weekend trips for the twins, their pet turtle, and tandem stroller. The target driver hauls only a few items, with a maximum of one or two passengers, and needs to survive the urban jungle by muscling through a thicket of Hans Molemans and post-apocalyptic asphalt. Superb handling and acceleration are high priorities, all while basking in the fine luxuries afforded from a majestic throne, such as room for two Big Gulps and​ a George Foreman rotisserie​. W​hile the M3 is an impractical but rewarding daily driver, ​the X6M is excessiveness incarnate, and if I had the scratch to afford one, I'd be throwing drumsticks at Gremlins on the way to work each morning.
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      11-18-2010, 01:53 PM   #2
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Love the review! I wish the tour was coming near me to actually drive one. I "have" to upsize from my 335i since we have baby#2 on the way. I like the room of the x5 but my wife has a lexus with third row seating, so that will be the baby stroller/vacation/everyday vehicle. We have 2011 5.0 x5 and x6 here to test, and the x6 drives so differently. I am really considering the x6m since I dont need a lot of space, just enough for a couple of car seats when needed (but then store them in back cause it kind of takes away some of the cool factor!!!) Since I dont want to pay much to uncle sam this year, I may be "forced" to go with the x6m. Your review really helps!
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      11-18-2010, 05:04 PM   #3
hifiguy
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Didn't think the stroller comment would be applicable to many, so glad it helped out! Do leave some feedback if/when you get your X6M, I'm curious to hear how it accommodates youngsters since I may be joining that boat in a couple years.

Btw, you wouldn't be located in northern Texas? We'll be visiting some family around Arlington at year's end and didn't see too many bimmers last time I visited.
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      11-21-2010, 10:36 AM   #4
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hifiguy,
More for tax reasons at the end of this year, I had to spend a large sum of money. Since this might be the last year for sect. 179 for the tax code (not sure anyone knows whats going to happen for next year) and because of baby #2 on the way, I needed something larger than my 335. I really prefer to have something that I can get serviced here locally so that limited my choices (range rover, porsche). Instead of the "everywhere escalade", I decided to just get something that I really wanted. Put my order in yesterday for the x6m and should have it i
in about 5 weeks. CANNOT WAIT!
I will definitely let you know how it works for them. I did not order the rear entertainment system because that single center console is just asking for trouble with two little ones. The odds that they will want to watch the same thing at the same time is too low for even NASA to figure. I will add the dual headrests later.
We actually live in Lubbock but will be going to see my wife's family in Dallas the week after Christmas.
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      11-21-2010, 12:48 PM   #5
hifiguy
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newdadkel,
that's definitely a smart move to take advantage of sect. 179, especially by getting the X6M, hehe. I'm barely in the sect. 195 phase but hopefully in the future I'll be able to do the same, knock on wood!
My sister-in-law has been trying to convince us to move to Texas, and while the housing market is more advantageous there, I've heard there aren't too many BMW dealers to choose from. How's your experience with service been?
I know you'll be counting the days 'till your M arrives, the wait is killer! Originally we were going to take my M3 but, not knowing the snow conditions, we're going to fly instead. Reviews have said the X6M is great on the snow with proper tires, so I'm sure you'll let us know how that goes.
Congrats on your early Xmas gift!
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      11-22-2010, 04:21 PM   #6
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hifiguy,
Yeah its only been 2 days and I already want to check on-line progress! Hahaha
Our BMW service department has been very good! I have no complaints about them. Of course this is my 4th car from them so I'm sure that has something to do with it. The larger metro areas like Dallas and Houston will have more thatn our single one, but I am not sure about their reputation.
You should come to Texas bro! You could probably double your house, and half the time for your x6m due to lower cost of living! LOL
Now there are some more expensive areas where that it is not applicable to (areas in Dallas and Austin), but it is better everywhere else.
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      11-23-2010, 09:08 AM   #7
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HiFi, what day were you there? I was there on Sunday approximately around 10am. I took out E92 M3. Then I took the X6 M for a spin along with some other guys. Darn thing is beyond...umm fast.
I was thinking moving to AUstin if I can't find a nursing job once I obtain my license. However, I want to test the water before I do that.

Last edited by positiveions; 11-23-2010 at 02:57 PM.
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      11-23-2010, 04:19 PM   #8
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I'm lost as to how you find the E46 interior nicer/better than the X6 ///M's. I used to own a 330Ci and while the interior was not bad, it didn't at all compete with the $100k X6 ///M's interior.
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      11-23-2010, 05:14 PM   #9
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newdadkel
Good to know your service has been great out there. There are tons of dealers here but just when I think I've found a stable one they mess something up. Thank goodness for independent service shops.

eatrach73
We were there Sat morning but only stayed around for one test drive. Yeah, that thing hits ludicrous speed pretty quick. And the 0.9% APR isn't helping much.

BMWPower06
Material-wise, the X6M feels uber posh with more leather than a strip joint. It was the cockpit layout that didn't feel as natural as the M3. The visibility of the rear-view mirror was minuscule, it was awkward to palm the shifter, the dashboard didn't have that slight angle towards the driver, and the steering wheel size was bordering on being intrusive. Otherwise, I did enjoy the perforated leather seats.
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      11-29-2010, 09:31 AM   #10
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hifiguy,
I absolutely will NOT tell my wife that the x6m will have "more leather than a strip joint." LMBO!!!!!!
That is one thing I was a little unsure about was the visibility in the x6m, but I guess we will see.
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      12-02-2010, 05:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newdadkel View Post
hifiguy,
I absolutely will NOT tell my wife that the x6m will have "more leather than a strip joint." LMBO!!!!!!
That is one thing I was a little unsure about was the visibility in the x6m, but I guess we will see.
LOL, sorry 'bout that, dunno why that analogy came to mind.
But really, leather on top of the cluster gauges and dashboard? i wouldn't have the patience to clean & condition that much leather by hand.

As for the visibility, it's a sacrifice for owning such a marvelous beast. This morning during rush hour I dropped off a relative at the airport and had to endure 20 miles of surface streets under construction. It SO would've been much more satisfying out-maneuvering the road ragers in an X6M.

Btw, how many more weeks till your delivery date?
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      12-02-2010, 09:57 PM   #12
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Supposed to be at the end of December. We will be leaving for Dallas the week after, and I REALLY hope I have it to take.
I think I will tell her that it has more leather than a SADDLE SHOP! I mean, we are in West Texas after all!!!!
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