Handling like a dream

ANY VEHICLE that manages to hit the 100kmh mark in under five seconds is fast. No, make that darn fast!

ANY VEHICLE that manages to hit the 100kmh mark in under five seconds is fast. No, make that darn fast!

Add to the equation a car that weighs close on 2,5tonnes doing the sprint in a spine-tingling 4,7 seconds and what you have is insanity! But that's exactly what the new BMW X5M and X6M can do. With the M models we have a pimped-up ride ... big time!

Let's state upfront that they don't come cheap, (more than R1million) but for that price you get racing-car performance in a sports utility vehicle.

Both come with the same engine - a 4,4litre V8 brute that pushes out 408kW to achieve the 200kmh mark in just 16 seconds and an electronically governed top speed of 250kmh.

The automatic transmission (no manuals will be available) has six gears that can either be operated by selecting "D" on the gearbox panel or changing gears via aluminium shift paddles on the steering wheel.

Any BMW carrying the M badge places priority on safety. A special body shell incorporates six airbags - front, side and head - and crash-activated headrests at the front. Run-flat tyres front and rear are also standard as are bi-xenon dual headlights with a daytime driving function. There is park distance control and a reversing camera.

Other standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels and four smoking-gun tailpipes beneath the rear bumper.

While it was a blast taking it down the long straights of Eastern Cape during the launch last week, it was at a small racetrack just outside Port Elizabeth where the real fun was had. With tyres squealing and smoke pouring from the tyres as they gripped the hot tar, the vehicles clocked times normally seen during saloon-car racing.

The stability going into the corners was awesome and flooring the throttle coming out of the hairpins, the new-look X5 and X6 simply launched forward.

Inside - BMW call it the "cockpit" - both are nice and spacious, but the X6M is strictly a four-seater.

The price puts it out of reach of most , but those who can afford it will get a car that delivers more fun than you can imagine.