2015 BMW X5 M

All-new for the latest model year, the BMW X5 M is to the standard X5 what the M5 is to the 5 Series. The X5 M blurs the line between SUV and high-performance luxury car thanks to a M5-derived V8 engine and a generous amount of cargo space.

Under the Hood
Power for the X5 M comes from a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that is also found under the hood of the aforementioned M5, the M6 and the X6 M. For use in the X5 M the eight-cylinder has been tuned to generate 567 horsepower between 6,000 and 6,500 rpm and 553 lb-ft. of torque from 2,200 to 5,000 rpm. An eight-speed M Steptronic transmission works with a M-specific version of BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system to send the V8's power to all four wheels. The transmission can be left in "drive" or it can be controlled via shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

Although it tips the scale at over 5,200 pounds, the X5 M can reach 60 mph from a stop in four seconds flat and go on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. Fuel economy checks in at 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway thanks in part to a standard start/stop system.

Born and raised on Germany's Nürburgring track, the X5 M is equipped with an engine lubrication system that can operate normally at up to 1.2g of lateral acceleration. The all-wheel drive system was also bred for performance and it is capable of sending 100 percent of the engine's power to either the front or the wheel wheels depending on traction and road conditions.

The X5 M's suspension has been stiffened and lowered by 0.3 inches but comfort isn't an issue thanks to BMW's Dynamic Damper Control technology. The system offers three driver-selectable modes called Comfort, Sport and Sport +, respectively. There are similar settings for the X5's steering system, ensuring that it is just as at home on the road as it is on the track.

Looking the Part
Visually, it's nearly impossible to confuse the X5 M with a standard X5. The range-topping model stands out thanks to a revised front end with more air inlets, side gills with M badges, M-designed door mirrors, an exhaust system with four tail pipes, a rear spoiler and functional air diffuser. Overall, the add-ons help make the X5 more aerodynamic and create noticeably more downforce.

Buyers looking to further stand out can order the X5 M in one of two M-specific paint colors called Long Beach Blue Metallic and Donington Grey Metallic.

Model-specific alloy wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires cover six-piston calipers up front and single-piston calipers out back.

Life Aboard
The track-focused treatment continues inside with a M-specific instrument cluster, sport seats for the front passengers and a M three-spoke sport steering wheel.

The driver-oriented dashboard features a color display for the latest generation of BMW's ConnectedDrive infotainment system. ConnectedDrive enables the passengers to get directions with real-time traffic information, surf the internet on the go, change the climate control settings or pick a different radio station by either using the touch screen, the iDrive knob mounted next to the gear selector or the car's voice control system. Alternatively, passengers can manually input an address by using a touchpad-like surface integrated into the top of the iDrive controller.

Although its engine might suggest otherwise, the X5 remains a utility vehicle at heart. It offers 35.8 cubic feet of trunk space with five occupants on board and 76.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.

Standard and Optional Features
The X5 M comes generously equipped with auto-leveling Xenon Adaptive Headlights, programmable daytime running lights, LED fog lights, power-folding and heated door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a space-saver spare tire, 18-way power-adjustable front seats with a three-stage heating function, a leather-upholstered dashboard, a cargo cover, Merino leather upholstery, a panoramic moonroof, a keyless ignition, parking sensors on both ends, a power tailgate, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, a universal garage door opener, a Harmon Kardon Surround Sound Audio System and a rear-view camera.

The list of standalone options includes a rear-seat entertainment system, a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, night vision with pedestrian detection, a park assist function that can automatically park the X5 and enhanced enhanced USB and Bluetooth plus smartphone integration.

The Driver Assistance Plus package adds features like a Lane Departure Warning System, Active Blind Spot Detection, a 360-degree camera and speed limit information.

Finally, the Executive Package bundles adaptive full LED lighting, soft-close automatic doors, a heads-up display, a heated steering wheel, concierge services, automatic high beams, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and manual window shades for the rear occupants.

Occupant Safety
The X5 M comes standard with front, side and head airbags as well as BMW's Active Roll Stabilization system and a Dynamic Stability Control system that can be fully turned off when it's not needed such as when driving on a track.

Key Competitors
Buyers in the market for an ultra-quick and ultra-expensive SUV can cross-shop the X5 M with the Porsche Cayenne GTS, the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR.