It's fair to say that when BMW released its coupe version of the X5 SUV, there were many who saw it as a fad. And those same doubters chimed in again when the carmaker announced M versions of both cars that would boast 555hp V8 engines and sell for more than $90k.
Time has passed and we've adapted to life with the BMW X6M; steady sales and great engineering ensure they won't disappear any time soon. But what if the world's most powerful production SUV isn't enough for you? What if you want more personalization for your über-wagon?
Fortunately, BMW anticipated your craving and designed a number of items in its new M Performance Parts range that might fit the bill. They're predominantly cosmetic enhancements that succeed in upping the X6M's considerable ante (with most pieces also available for the BMW X5M sibling).
First up are two carbon fiber pieces: a front splitter and tailgate spoiler. We've experienced similar parts before on our E90 M3 project car and the quality was unbelievable. It's OE standard, as you'd expect from BMW, with a great fit and immaculate finish.
The only slight problem is that the splitter costs a not inconsiderable $1900, while the rear spoiler is $675. On top of that, you'll need to have them fitted. The dealer will typically charge you a few hours labor, but you could probably find some savings if you know a capable bodyshop.
Additionally, there were side skirts made from OE-quality plastic (that require painting) as well as tail fins for the rear hatch. The latter are rather subtle, sitting either side of the rear screen and cost $125, the skirts are $800.
The upgrades need not stop there. You can get BMW black kidney grilles ($170), which make a big difference alone. Then there are the more controversial M Sport Stripes ($400) that didn't win universal plaudits. However, you can't deny the impact they had - nobody missed them!
The final exterior addition was a set of 21" Style 310M wheels fitted with Dunlop Sport Maxx tires. Their massive proportions (11.5" rear width with 325/30 tires) gave the X6M prodigious grip in all conditions, and they're attractive enough. But at $7000 for the wheel and tire package, we might be tempted to find a deal from the aftermarket.
That said, all these parts won't invalidate your BMW warranty and will have OEM durability, even if BMW found it necessary to point out that larger wheels and low-profile tires are more susceptible to road hazards and consequential damage. Like they needed to tell us... Although we wouldn't fit 21s without first lowering the ride height a little.
Inside, the X6M featured a thick-rimmed M Performance steering wheel ($825), which sadly didn't feature the shift lights, oil temp and lap timer like BMW's other wheel. There was also an aluminum pedal set ($125).
Despite the cosmetic nature of the parts, driving this X6M did feel different. Not only would people respond to you differently because of the more aggressive look - this had positive and negative consequences - but there was definitely a feel-good factor about this pimped-out SUV towering over everybody and thundering past slower traffic.
The thick-rimmed wheel made your point of contact feel more special. The 21" wheels undoubtedly made the ride a little firmer than the stock 20s, but the lower profile tires also gave sharper turn-in, and the greater width contributed extra grip.
At the end of the day, the BMW M Performance Parts should be used thoughtfully and sparingly. We'd probably skip the pedals and stripes, rear fins and find aftermarket wheels. However, each part is built to a very high standard, available from your local BMW dealer and the price can be lost in your monthly finance payments on a new car.
The range of M Performance Parts covers most BMW models from 1 Series up, enabling customers to customize their car by way of an introduction to the aftermarket.
2013 BMW X6M
Layout front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 4395cc V8 32v twin-turbo, High Precision Direct Injection, cylinder-bank comprehensive manifold (CCM), reverse-flow heads, overhead camshafts
Drivetrain six-speed M Sport automatic transmission with Adaptive Transmission Control and paddle shifters
Suspension M sport suspension with self-leveling rear air suspension, Adaptive Drive with Electronic Damping Control and Active Roll Stabilization
Wheels & Tires 21x10" ET40 f, 21x11.5" ET38 r BMW M Performance Style 310M wheels, 285/35 R21 f, 325/30 R21 r Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires
Exterior BMW M Performance carbon fiber front splitter and rear spoiler, side skirts, black kidney grilles, rear hatch fins, M Sport stripes
Interior BMW M Performance steering wheel, aluminum pedals
Power 555hp @ 6000rpm
Torque 500 lb-ft @ 1500-5650rpm
Top Speed 155mph
Weight 5324 lb
Economy 12/17mpg (city/highway)
MSRP $92900 (plus $12020 in BMW M Performance Parts cost)