M is the most powerful letter in the world. German luxury car maker BMW is out there to prove that with its M range of cars in India. We’ve already seen sedans and coupés ranging from the M3 to the M6 on the Indian roads earlier but now it is the turn of the big bad BMW SUVs the X5 and the X6 to get bitten by the ‘M’ bug. At the Chennai racetrack recently these bold new SUVs were served to us on a platter to get a first hand feel of what happens when the letter X comes together with the letter M. The Bavarian car maker has been known for its cars that provide a sporty feel but to have an SUV that makes a racetrack its home is a different story altogether.


There’s a striking use of forms on the X5 M and the X6 M. Both the cars clearly flag sporting ambitions and that is evident looking at the M-specific design characteristics. There is of course the signature kidney grille with double slats, large three-part air inlet in the front apron and M twin tailpipes all there for reasons that go beyond just looks. A glance at these monsters tells you that the proportions of the X5 M signal massive power and extreme handling abilities while the flowing lines of the X6 M underline its extravagant coupe concept and athleticism. The X6 has been the sort of car that clearly divides opinions down the line in terms looks and some who know cars have even termed it as ugly, but the M characteristics surely help this one when it comes to visual appeal.


The interiors on both these cars are clearly inspired by motor racing. As is the case with the most beamers the cockpit has a driver-oriented design that makes everything within the drivers reach. There’s a new multifunctional M leather steering with integrated aluminium gearshift paddles and center console with knee pads. The Individual instrument panel is leather trimmed and apart from that the cars sport M —specific gear selector levers, driving dynamics buttons and sill finishers with model lettering. Fine grain Merino leather upholstery with contrasting seams and embossed M logo on the backrests showcase flawless workmanship. These cars provide uber luxury and are proved by the presence systems such as the iDrive Touch with handwriting recognition, full-colour BMW Head-Up Display with M View and a 600 Watt 16 speaker high-end Surround Sound system from Harman Kardon. While we didn’t get too much time to get up close and personal with these luxuries we did get some great track time and frankly this is what we were looking forward to the most.


We call these cars monsters for a reason. That’s because they are powered by M Twin Power Turbocharged V8 petrol engines. An astonishing 575 hp produces a maximum torque of 750 Nm at 2200-5000 rpm and accelerates the cars from 0-100 km/hr in just 4.2 seconds to a top speed of 250 km/h which also is electronically limited. And in spite of weighing over 2000 kgs the power-to-weight ratio is anything but conservative.

 The cars sport a new eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic and this offers precision and impressive fast-shifting ability. You will have absolutely no qualms about the way the transmission works on these two SUVs. The driver can also take over manual control or gear changes using shift paddles and the racetrack we say is the perfect place to do that.

 These cars provide uber luxury and are proved by the presence systems such as the iDrive Touch with handwriting recognition, full-colour BMW Head-Up Display with M View and a 600 Watt 16 speaker high-end Surround Sound system from Harman Kardon.

Ride and Handling

Since these cars come from the X family, the four wheel drive system is there to adapt well to the most challenging road surface conditions, ensuring desired  traction at all times. Response times are in split seconds and that allows the BMW xDrive to distribute drive power flexibly between the two axles for optimum grip. In this way, the system combines the advantages of an all-wheel drive — traction, directional stability and safety — with classic BMW “Sheer Driving Pleasure”. However if you’re used to driving any of the existing M cars in India you may take some time in getting used to the dynamics of these SUVs. Also the braking is a little harder and once again the racetrack was an ideal place to understand that.


These two new BMWs are out there to impress you in every possible way. There’s power, there’s luxury and of course the “own the road” feel that only a big SUV can offer. Plus they come with a host of safety features like eight airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control and side-impact protection.  And even though cars like these are fuel guzzlers features like automatic Start/Stop function and Brake Energy Regeneration come to the rescue in terms of efficiency. They may cost a whopping Rs 1.55 crore (X5M) and Rs 1.6 crore (X6M) but once you take them out on a racetrack you will agree that you can’t really put a price to unadulterated driving pleasure.

Shams Naqvi  is an anchor/producer  for the News X motor show Living  Cars.