Life is peppered with questions we just can’t seem to answer. What exactly is “out there” when we look up at the sky on a clear night? Do we actually live in a simulation? Is Toby from The Office really the Scranton Strangler? Well, here’s another one to add to that list: why does the 2021 BMW X6 M Competition exist?
If there’s one thing BMW has proven over the years, it’s that in addition to oversaturating the high-po M lineup, it also loves to populate seemingly pointless niches, starting with the rolling oxymoron that is the “SUV coupe.” Hard to believe the X6 has been around since 2008, yet here we are – the X6 is entering its third generation, BMW now has an SUV for numbers one through seven, and what enthusiasts think about these infernal things is meaningless.
Oh, and evidently, maybe BMW was onto something after all. Today, it isn’t the only automaker playing in this space – the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe arrived on the scene in 2016, followed by the Audi Q8 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe a few years later. Still, just because there are now a handful of copycats doesn’t mean the X6 M’s existence is justified, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to figure it out.
Let’s start with styling, its most polarizing aspect, shall we? Where previous X6s were carbon copies of the X5 from the B-pillar forward, this latest iteration sets itself apart with a slightly reshaped front grille and bumper. It looks fairly badass head-on and mercifully, the kidney grille isn’t the size of a private island in the Carribean, as we’ve seen on certain other BMWs. You know which one I’m talking about.
But keep moving and the X6 might lose you. The beltline is high, the windows are small, and the rear decklid is tall. Combined with the $4,900 Frozen Black paint job – that’s BMW-speak for satin black – and there’s a lot of visual mass to take in. It’s the automotive equivalent of Ronnie from Jersey Shore: all bulk, no neck, and not particularly classy.
Maybe it’s what’s on the inside that counts, because to BMW’s credit, the X6 M’s interior is a home run – but that’s a no-brainer when most of it’s been copied-and-pasted from the X5. Fit-and-finish is superb, material quality is absoutely top-notch, and ergonomically, the seemingly infinitely adjustable (and massaging) front seats are quite comfortable and supportive. The X6 M is fairly well-endowed on the tech front, too, boasting crisp and intuitive displays and all the assists you’d expect in 2021 plus a few extras, like the ability to steer for you in traffic, a sharp 360-degree camera system.
But like the outside, the X6 M might lose you again the further back you go. The sloping roof not only cuts into rear-seat headroom and overall cargo space, but the small-ish rear window and chunky D-pillars compromise rear visibility and lends to some sizeable blind spots. Oh, and whoever rides in the back might feel a little claustrophobic thanks to the black headliner, chunky pillars, and high belt line. If practicality is a must, the X5 M is the way to go.
Okay, so the X6 M Competition isn’t particularly stylish or as practical as its sibling. Surely what’s under the hood packs enough sizzle to get your blood boiling, right? You certainly can’t accuse the X6 M of being slow – powered by BMW’s familiar 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, it puts out a whopping 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s sent to all four wheels via a specially tuned eight-speed automatic transmission. If you’re brave enough, you can even coax the X6 M to operate in RWD mode, but you’ll have to disable all the nannies to do so.
In a word, the X6 M is fast. BMW quotes a zero-to-100 km/h run in 3.8 seconds, and we certainly believe them. Bump the various drive modes into their most aggressive settings and you’ll find yourself uttering a serious of expletives as the truck digs in and rockets forward. You’ll never come close to finding the X6 M’s limits on the street, either; you’ll feel the weight when you push it, but there’s just so much grip and so little body roll that even the tightest on-ramps won’t faze the X6 M. It’s bonkers.
That said, for better or worse, the X6 M definitely favours performance and sportiness over comfort. Wind and road noise are well-controlled, but even in its softest setting, you’ll feel bumps, potholes, and other imperfections much more than usual. Not only that, the X6 M Competition doesn’t sound particularly remarkable, either – it’s technically proficient, but it lacks the aural drama (really, its more an attack on your senses) you’d find in a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk for a fraction of the price.
Ah yes, price. Evidently, the X6 M Competition isn’t for everyone, and the price certainly exacerbates that. Starting at $130,000, it isn’t exactly a “deal” and this particular example was loaded up with a base Toyota Camry’s worth of options. Part of that laundry list is a whopping $17,800 for what’s called the Ultimate Package – seemingly a mix of niceties like massaging front seats, superfluous bells-and-whistles like a built-in air freshener and BMW’s unnecessarily bulky and complicated Display Key, and essentials that should really be standard at this price point, like a parking assistant with a 360-degree camera, wireless charging for your phone, and cooled seats. Satin paint and the thorougly excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system each add $4,900 to the bottom line.
So, value isn’t exactly the X6 M’s strong suit. Neither is styling or practicality. Performance? Sure, it’s bloody fast, but there are more fun uber-SUVs out there. Sales? The X6 itself is a steady seller, but the figures are hardly groundbreaking. Image? Well, okay, we might actually be onto something there. For those who want to stand out, for better or worse, this big BMW certainly delivers.
But honestly, if you want a big and fast BMW sport-ute, and you tend to use your brain, get an X5 M. We’ll probably never figure out if Toby Flenderson really was the Scranton Strangler, or if we’re really alone out there, but one thing’s for sure: the 2021 BMW X6 M Competition is an answer to a question nobody really asked.