On the track

On the track

Rebaneilwe Semakane

We attended the launch of the highly-anticipated third generation BMW X5M Comp and X6M Comp.

The launch was held at Zwartkops raceway which is a fitting location for these two cars. The morning started off with some coffee, a brief chat about the cars then we hit the track, ready to unleash the full potential of these beasts to the track.

BMW had a little surprise for us to test out too – The M8 Competition. That is the first car I managed to take on the track and I loved every single minute of it. For a car with 460kW/750Nm, it feels very light on its feet and grips insanely well; cornering in this car is amazing too. It belongs on the track and there’s no doubt about this.

Now, back to the pressing matters. The X5M Competition is an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) and in this one, there has been a major power hike. This and the X6M Competition, which is an SAC (Sports Activity Coupe) use the same 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology, resulting in a power increase over the respective predecessors of just 37kW. They both generate the same output of 450kW/750Nm of torque. The cars share the same gearbox, an 8-speed M Steptronic with the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system which has a rear biased setup. The gear changes in the X6M are slightly better than in the X5M, the latter having a little bit of turbo lag and wind noise entering the vehicle at times. The gearbox, however aids in the fuel-efficiency of these cars – yes, fuel-efficiency. Something you wouldn’t expect from a V8. The exhaust notes in the X5M is much more pronounced and prominent than in the X6M, but this can be fixed by removing the sound filter in an aftermarket customization.

Both cars get to 0-100km/h in just 3.8 seconds making them blistering fast yet manageable and easy to control. A lovely change to these cars is that the front wheels run on 21-inches and the rear wheels run on 22-inches and these are standard on both vehicles.

BMW has managed to minimize the body roll of the cars by increasing the stiffness of the body and the suspension, and you can feel this while driving. The car is manageable and study at the same time. The cars ride on an adaptive suspension, active roll stabilisation and M-Servotronic steering, making the steering nimble and highly responsive.

In terms of the driving experience, both cars have an amazing feel to them and they are absolutely responsive. The X5M has a more matured and firm ride, whereas the X6M just wants to play, its sporty, quick and corners so beautifully. The X5M is best suited for families as there is ample space and for those who want something extremely sporty yet practical. This does not take away the practicality of the X6M but, the latter would be best suited for a couple with at most, two children. Or for a single man/woman who wants something sporty that demands attention.

The exterior featured include large air intakes, the well-known BMW kidney-grille with decals on the bars, a spoiler and the exhaust system with 4 tailpipes.

The interior to both cars are absolutely plush, luxurious and of a high quality. There is a lot of space in the cockpit and it also has the Heads-Up display that we all love. M Multifunction seats and BMW Individual fine-grain Merino full leather trim are standard in these vehicles. Functionality buttons on the steering wheel to navigate through engine settings, steering and braking settings are within reach. There are three drive modes, namely ROAD, SPORT and TRACK. There is also a large range of driver assistance features.

The pricing for these cars does not come cheap at all, but they are worth every cent. The pricing is formed in such a way that you are paying for almost every feature and theres no need for optional extras. The X5M Competition starts at R2 632 258 and the X6M Competition is R2 733 420.

This segment in South Africa is thriving and there is clearly a market for these premium, sporty beasts.

Article by: Rebaneilwe Semakane