2014 BMW X6 M

The BMW X6 M is excessive, impractical and entirely over the top - and that's exactly why its fans love it. There's nothing logical about the crossover-coupe's space-robbing proportions or inordinate thirst for premium, but for some, the pure emotional appeal of something so dramatic and powerful - there's no less than 555 raging horses beneath the hood - is hard to resist.

With the "normal" X6 as a starting point, the M variant adds a bodykit with gaping front air intakes, a host of suspension mods and - most importantly - a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. A close relative of the mill found in the M5, it churns out 501 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 5,650 rpm to go along with the aforementioned 555 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.

With the help of a six-speed automatic (the first torque-converter auto to be offered in a BMW M vehicle), the X6 M is capable of sprinting from zero-to-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds - that's impressively rapid for a machine that weighs well north of 5,000 lbs.

Also aiding in the big bruiser's accelerative efforts BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which here is coupled with a torque-vectoring system that apportions output between the two rear wheels to curb understeer in the twisties.

With electronically controlled dampers, a self-leveling rear air suspension and active roll stabilization, the X6 M's suspension is capable of providing a mellow ride for cruising or a buttoned-down feel for blitzing the backroads.

Massive brakes composed of four-piston front calibers squeezing 15.6-inch rotors, along with single-piston rear calibers clamping 15.2-inch rotors, bring the X6 M to halt without breaking a sweat.

The penalty for crossover-coupe's potent, thirsty engine and heavy performance accouterments is dismal mileage of 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway.

Inner Trappings
The X6 M features the same elegant dashboard, opulent materials and driver-focused controls as the standard X6. Changes include special front sport seats, an M instrument cluster and numerous M badges sprinkled throughout the interior.

BMW's excellent iDrive infotainment system controls navigation, sound system and climate control functions, with redundant buttons and knobs on the center stack giving users an alternate means of accessing often-used features. Voice command functionality is also included, and buyers can spring for BMW Apps, which provides access to Facebook, Twitter, web radio services and more through iDrive.

Rear-seat passengers will find compromised headroom due to the X6 M's rakish roofline, which also eats into cargo space. A respectable 25 cubes are available with the rear seats into position, but only 60 cubes are available with the rear seats folded flat. Many modern compact crossovers hold around 10 cubes more.

Of note, rear visibility is nearly as poor as a mid-engined Italian supercar, although an optional array of camera systems alleviates this problem.

Standard and Optional Features
The X6 M is fitted as standard with leather upholstery, a navigation system, a 16-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with HD radio along with AUX and USB inputs, 14-way-adjustable heated front sports seats, dual-zone automatic control, a power liftgate, Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, auto on/off and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a sunroof and 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Active Ventilated Seat package brings ventilation and massage functionality to the front seats. The Cold Weather Package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Rear Climate Package includes four-zone automatic climate control and manual rear sunshades. The Premium Sound Package nets a hi-fi stereo and satellite radio. The Driver Assistance Package includes a head-up display, automatic high-beams and top-view parking cameras.

Highlights from the long list of stand-alone options include a sideview parking camera system, automatic soft-close doors, remote start, expanded interior leather, a rear-seat entertainment system and BMW Apps.

Occupant Safety
All X6 M models come with dual front-, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.

Key Competitors
Though no performance crossover can quite offer the styling drama (love it or hate it) of the X6 M, rivals to the BMW include the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged and, at the lower end of the price spectrum, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.