Forming a partnership with the BMW X5 M Competition, the X6 M Competition is the more rakish one of the duo. And, because it's a little bit more aerodynamic and 15kg lighter, it's a tiny bit quicker (0.2 seconds) than its 625hp stablemate for the 0-200km/h run (13.2 seconds overall). However, is such an irrelevant statistic reason enough to eschew the X5 for the ultimate X6?
In the Metal:
We're not the biggest fans of the BMW X6's appearance anyway, but the M Competition version undeniably has lots of presence. It gains plenty of black exterior detailing, alloy wheels that are mismatched across the axles (21-inch front, 22-inch rear), a big front airdam with three-dimensional contouring, quad exhaust pipes, a discreet lip spoiler on the boot lid, a rear diffuser and a set of side breather gills in the front wings, which sit higher than they would on the X5 M Competition. In short, there's no way you'd mistake the X6 M for an xDrive30d M Sport model if you only afford it a quick glance.
Inside is the usual excellent BMW ergonomic layout, dominated by the twin digital displays of the Live Cockpit Professional instrument cluster, which gets its own M-specific screens and logos in the M Competition, alongside the BMW Operating System 7.0 infotainment presented in the centre stack. There are M multifunction seats with a hexagonal quilting pattern, an M steering wheel with M1 and M2 buttons highlighted in red, lots of carbon-fibre trim, a Merino fine-grain leather dashboard upper and the M selector lever, which you have to move from side to side to engage either 'D' or 'R'. It's a bit like the old SMG sticks in that regard and it makes it the only thing in the cabin that isn't 100 per cent intuitive to use on first acquaintance.
The problems for the X6 M Competition come from all directions. It has some very talented rivals in the ultra-fast coupe-SUV sector (see 'Alternatives' below), while two of its own stablemates make it look a bit unnecessary - because, if you love the way the X6 looks, then the M50i seems to do almost everything the M Competition can do, only for a much lower price, while the very X5 M Competition launched alongside this car is €4,650 cheaper, more practical and, in our opinion, better looking.
This wouldn't all matter that much if the X6 M Competition was absolutely scintillating to drive, but it's not. However, it remains a deeply impressive machine. For such a big, hefty vehicle to perform and handle like it does is nothing short of outstanding. All of its engine, its gearbox, its M xDrive with the Active M Differential and its body control are second-to-none, so that you can really enjoy hustling the X6 M on the right sort of roads. The speed of it is simply blistering, the soundtrack has a pleasing and alluring rumble throughout the rev range and the engineering of the whole package is shot through with the sort of deep-seated quality that BMW has long been renowned for.
But while it certainly feels a shade sharper and more involving than an X6 M50i when you're behind the wheel, it doesn't totally eclipse the 530hp model on the road. And it definitely doesn't have any additional 'feel' or thrill when you're pushing it along than the X5 M Competition possesses, so you kind of wonder why you'd pick this less practical, more expensive and uglier version of the SUV, over and above the X5.
The Competition also has the same rigid ride quality as the X5 M, too, and if anything the X6 M is even more uncomfortable. It might well be that the X5 M has slightly different rear suspension settings than the X6 M, but whatever the reason, the X6 M is not a pleasant car to cruise around in. It's firm and bouncy, picking up far more minor imperfections in the road surface than a vehicle of this size really ought to, and it kind of puts you off the rest of the SUV as a result. Which is a shame, because there's no denying the brilliance of the M-enhanced chassis or that monster 4.4-litre biturbo drivetrain.
What you get for your Money:
As we've already mentioned, the X6 M Competition asks you to make the same compromises you get in any X6, so there's less rear headroom for passengers and a boot that is smaller by 70-350 litres (seats up/down) than in the comparable X5... and yet the X6 is nearly five grand more expensive. Its obvious USP is its divisive appearance, so if you subscribe to that coupe-SUV ethos then the M Competition will be more comprehensible. Like the X5 M Competition, it has a lengthy standard equipment list that makes some sense of its €191,000 asking price, but further options will surely see most X6 M Competitions pushing beyond the €200k mark.
The BMW X6 M Competition is an incredibly fast, great-sounding and beautifully engineered coupe-SUV. That it's not the best-looking thing in the marketplace is neither here nor there, as 20,238 versions of the first two generations of this high-power SUV found homes between 2009 and 2019; perhaps of more concern is that it has a brittle ride at all speeds, and it doesn't feel any sharper to drive than the related X5 M Competition. Expect it to remain a minority interest vehicle here in Ireland as a result, then.