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BMW X6 M and X5?M hot SUVs

But the biggest step change at BMW's go-faster M division for decades is going to be a hit-and-miss event for us.

The maestros at M have been unleashed on BMW's SUVs for the first time and the result is a pair of X5 and X6 belters with a twin-turbo V8 engine cranking out a wicked 408 kiloWatts _ with the brakes, suspension and body bits to match.

But ...

Only one of the super-quick SUVs, the X6 M, is coming down under. The X5 has been rejected, at least for now, as BMW Australia aims to steal more sales from rivals including the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz's AMG-tweaked ML.

"We have made this decision primarily to cater to our more-enthusiastic M customers. They will prefer the X6 body style," says the spokesman for BMW Group Australia, Toni Andreevski.

"It makes more sense to target the vehicle where the buyers are. Over 30 per cent of our X6 buyers are already going for the V8 model, but the X5 figure is a little under eight per cent. They want performance ahead of practicality.

"So, at present we have no plans for the X5 M. We're not targeting X5 customers, these people are a different breed."

The M-car move is the most radical change since the one-time racecar division grew its business away from the rorty little M3 into the 5 Series family. Since then there have been M cars across the BMW range, but nothing in the SUV lineup.

The 4.4-litre V8 is the heart of the M upgrade of the X6, with BMW touting a design which puts the turbocharger and catalytic converters between the banks of cylinders for quicker response.

The result is 680 Newton-metres of torque, a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h, although this can be bumped to 275 with the optional M Driver's Package.

The XMs pick up the latest developments on BMW's EfficientDynamics system, from Brake Energy Regeneration to on-demand control of the electrical fuel pump and a detachable aircon compressor.

The X6 M gets a six-speed sports automatic gearbox with shift paddles behind the steering wheel, which is linked to a specific Servotronic steering system.

Standard equipment runs from bi-xenon maps with daytime driving lights to 20-inch alloy wheels, a heads-up display, M sports seats and wheel, and a pumped-up body package.

No-one at BMW is talking about the price, although it will be somewhere between $167,000 and $234,000 - most likely in the $200,000 range - when the first cars land in November.

"It will be more expensive than an ML63 and cheaper than a Cayenne Turbo. That's all we have at this stage," says Andreevski.

He is also refusing to talk about sales numbers, although close to 500 X6s have been sold since it hit showrooms in August last year.

"If you compare it with the Porsche Cayenne, it has outsold it since it went on sale," Andreevski says.