The BMW X6 M is, effectively, Europe's Hummer. It's faster, slicker, better engineered, superior in more or less every way. In fact, it's a borderline miracle in pure engineering terms. But the underlying attitude is the same.
Because you need an SUV with 3 Series interior space and rocketship acceleration the same way you need military muscle in the Hollywood Hills. Both cars are pure consumption, ostentatious wealth at work showing a middle finger to the world at large.
Hummer paid the ultimate price for its conceit as soon as the chill wind of recession hit. But the X6 in general is flying off the shelves; wanton consumption is still cool in some corners of the world. And that's music to the ears of tuning house AC Schnitzer, which has thrown the kitchen sink and then some at this supercar in a fat suit.
From a tuner's perspective, the X6 M is an open goal, because the kind of customer the base car appeals to clearly doesn't know where the line is. They don't even know there is a line. They are rappers, entrepreneurs, sportsmen, company directors, Russian success stories with offshore bank accounts, and Middle Eastern royalty. In short, they're minted.
They likely have more than one car in the garage and the near-$90,000 X6 M is their daily workhorse. It isn't about practicality or luggage space-the X6 M doesn't really have those-and fuel consumption doesn't even enter their thoughts. It's just a big bruiser with an automatic mode that's less demanding to drive fast than the Pagani, Lamborghini, or superbike that comes out on the weekend.
But although this is the daily work car, it still has to stand out from the ever-growing crowd while it's flying through bends as two tons of angry metal. And few things are more brazen than Schnitzer's Falcon body kit.
The Aachen firm offers a much more muted kit for the wallflowers, but this one puts both barrels to the face. The bulging arches add 40mm to each side-yes, that's one and a half inches in total-and there's a whole new front bumper assembly and rear valance with a jutting rear lip spoiler and side skirts. Almost comically, the front bumper comes with an adjustable lip spoiler made from weight-saving carbon fiber, while the rear gets that diffuser. You have to love the sheer audacity.
Schnitzer fitted a carbon mid-section to the hood and it comes with a gigantic window to the car's soul, showing off the badge and new carbon detailing on the 4.4-liter twin-turbo. It's not quite in Ferrari's league, but it will win major league bragging rights when a friend rolls up in his diesel variant. As will the polished steel vents sliced into the front.
Other external mods include the visibily light 22-inch five-spoke wheels, which are clothed in relative rubberbands from Michelin. Considering the base car is about as comfortable as a fall down the Statue of Liberty's steps, this should be a recipe for unmitigated disaster. But it isn't.
The original X6 M bent physics when it came to the driving experience, and the Schnitzer is better just about everywhere. For a start, there's the extra 100 hp ACS liberated with the ECU and 100-cell rear silencer, as well as the small matter of 604 lb-ft of torque that bodes well for the next generation M5.
The base car wasn't lacking in the trousers department, but this thing is ridiculous. There's no drama, no fight for traction, and the only audible way to detect the extra power is the burbling note from the V8. From a standing start this car just flies and it feels every bit as tight as a thoroughbred sports car, without the wheel-fidgeting histrionics.
It simply acquires the kind of speed that could bankrupt a normal man in fines or fuel, never mind both, bursting through 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, allegedly, but I'd bet real money it's faster. And at the top end Schnitzer fitted a 360-kph speedo, but the top end is limited to "just" 300 kph (186 mph). Still, that's two-tons-plus of metal approaching 200 mph. Take a moment to digest that tidbit.