Faced with the task of chasing the Corvette ZR1, Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 Turbo and collecting the necessary photos and video for our , the Road & Track crew needed a suitable vehicle to carry our photo and video team all their gear.
Enter the . With 550 bhp and 500 lb.-ft. of torque on tap from its twin-turbo V-8, the X5 M had more than enough under the hood, which it delivers to all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel, or with the center console-mounted gear selector. And this BMW with M suspension had the handling to stay in lock-step pace with the high-powered sports cars.
At first glance the X5 M makes clear its unique role in the family. The exaggerated gape is there, looking a bit Classic Greek Theater and part African Ceremonial mask, the enlarged openings needed to bring copious amounts of air to the engine and brakes. Massive tires—275/40R-20 fronts and 315/35R-20 rears–mounted on special 20-in. wheels, along with other familiar M-Technique elements, reinforce the serious intent of this vehicle.
And on the inside, the X5 M is consistent with its M siblings in providing a command platform that's comfortable and exquisitely outfitted. Equipped with the latest iDrive, the X5 M also offers optional Smartphone Integration, Automatic High Beams and a Head-up display. Rearward vision is enhanced by a camera that offers a top-view of the surroundings, which is more than helpful when the cargo area is stacked high with photo and video gear.
How did the X5 M do as a high-speed photo vehicle? Suffice to say, on the arrow-straight desert roads of Nevada, this Monte Carlo Blue missile had no trouble keeping up. And in the steep twisting canyons of California, this BMW hauler acted like a sports car, with impeccable braking, sure-footed cornering, and all the expected feel of a BMW M machine. At $86,375, the X5 M isn't cheap, and it shouldn't be. But it's a relative bargain compared to the , which also has 550 bhp. If only the X5 M didn't have to go back to BMW!