BMW Teases High-Powered X6 M Diesel

At first glance, this footage from BMW seems like just another promotional video, but then you rub your eyes and lean in closer to the screen. Elements of the front and rear of this X6 are blurred out; BMW must be drumming up anticipation for a facelift. But why, then, is the badge also distorted?

Within the blur, notice the familiar splash of color: It’s an M. But notice the extra script beyond where the M would be, and the lack of noise as the X6 charges up a mountain road. Based on what we see here and what we’ve heard murmured around BMW, we think that badge says X6 M50d. That stands not for a 5.0-liter engine, but for a 3.0-liter, inline-six oil-burner. With two turbos, the engine will likely make more than 370 hp and more than 500 lb-ft of torque. It will be the most powerful six-cylinder diesel on the light-duty market by far—Ram’s HD pickups use a 6.7-liter diesel inline-six to produce 350 hp and 800 lb-ft—and rumor has it that the turbos will operate in three different stages, making power when you want it, sipping fuel when you don’t, and balancing the two when you’re feeling greedy—or is that indecisive?

The diesel will be backed by a ZF eight-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. This powertrain also will find its way into an X5 M50d and—brace yourself—even an M5 50d. All three will be visually differentiated not only from their lesser diesel siblings, but their gas-powered M counterparts as well.

Until a couple years ago, M wouldn’t even touch turbocharged gas engines for fear of compromising its identity. The X5 and X6 M broke that barrier—and were followed by the 1-series M—but with these new models, the brand is moving still farther from its old religion. It is not, however, the first performance brand to embrace diesels. In 2003, Mercedes-Benz launched the 228-hp, five-cylinder C30 CDI AMG. While successful in some southern European markets, the C30 AMG was generally unloved because of its pronounced diesel soundtrack; AMG will not be introducing a successor any time soon. Now BMW will be leading the way. Expect the new M models to go on sale in Europe by summer 2012. There are no plans to launch them in the U.S.


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