BMW’s ultra SUVs blow the mind!

Lockdown has its challenges. Like the first real car launch since it all started.

BMW’s new X5 M and X6M ride and drive was an absolute must. But we needed to be in Jozi and getting there is, well... No problem, we made a plan for one of our loyal motorsport correspondents to attend the launch… seems the experience made his year! 

Up early on a freezing Covid morning to meet up at BMW’s smart Driver Training and Product launch facility at Zwartkops Raceway, our arrival meant dancing the social distance jig, but we’re used to all that already, so what the hell! Next thing I knew, I was quite literally handed a brand new shiny silver BMW X5M Competition. 

Golly, what a good looking car —  even better with that standard M Carbon Package. The sheer shock of this latest generation flagship X5 is punctuated by just about every new tech feature that this industry has dished up in recent years. Talk about information (or is that infotainment?) overload! I'd need to spend quite a few hours in these cars to really get to grips with them. 

And there are still the options. Bugger!

Let’s just say that X5 M did not disappoint. No, not at all! Comfortable and precise over the paved surfaces we attacked (we never drove any dirt at all), straightline acceleration is something my brother in law would describe as able to roll back your foreskin, but with a sense of full control and not a hint of panic — even if it has 460kW and 750Nm on tap!

That’s courtesy of BMW M’s TwinPower 4.4-litre biturbo V8 that benefits a 37kW power hike on both cars for a versatile power delivery via an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. Add rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel-drive with 4WD and Sport modes and an Active M Differential to optimise traction and dynamics to see it to 100km/h in — wait for it — 3.8 seconds!

There’s also a far stiffer new shell, bespoke kinematic and elastokinematic properties and M-specific adaptive suspension with electronically controlled dampers, active roll stabilisation, M Servotronic steering and Dynamic Stability Control form part of the M Dynamic Mode.

Which means — and please believe me — X5 M goes exactly where you point it; on or off the power. Quite amazing for a 2.4 tonnes behemoth. It holds track is effortlessly and swallows up space ahead like a hungry road-eating dragon. There’s minimal body roll, brakes are fantastic – not too sharp however, so there's always a feeling of full control. 

21” front and 22” rear wheel and tyre gives the big, bad Beemer the best of both worlds — directional control into corners and a cool, planted feeling coming out. Just amazing for such a big vehicle. 
We drove towards Broederstroom and stopped at the Famous Home of the Chicken Pie for coffee and yes, a chicken pie before the return run in a very similar X6M Competition. Apart from the obvious rear sloped roof and a few other styling nuances, the two cars' drive characteristics felt identical — maybe a professional can find it.

The home run was just an effortless drive down the highway back to Zwartkops, where we had the chance to drive X5M Competition, X6M Competition and the M8 (watch for a separate story shortly), for a coupe of laps each, on track. 

Let’s just say I’m struggling to find the words right now! Just mind blowing. SA’s 

BMW M guru Gennaro Bonafede then comprehensively summarised the cars, leaving me to conclude that everything just works properly in these supremely capable large sports family vehicles. . 

Fine engineering and styling at its best - well done BMW. Whatever will you do next?

The BMW X5 M Competition R2,63-million and the X5 M Competition R2.73-million and both are waiting for you at your BMW M dealer right now with all the expected BMW support and backup. — Ken Hawkins