BMW's M cars need no introduction - they are the most powerful, hard-core and more often than not, the most expensive of the model range. For those who want a bit more oomph than the "standard" car but find the M models a tad too extreme and unfriendly on the wallet, there is the BMW M Performance automobile range.
The X6 M50d, X5 M50d and the M135i were launched at Changi Exhibition Centre by BMW M dealer Munich Automobiles over four days at the recent M Power Drive Experience.
"The arrival of the BMW M Performance automobiles marks a new chapter for BMW. Not only are we launching an entirely new range of cars positioned in between the regular BMW vehicles and the motorsport-inspired BMW M cars, we will also be debuting diesel-powered cars in Singapore for the first time," said Neil Fiorentinos, managing director of BMW Group Asia.
The world's most powerful six-cylinder diesel engine - a 381 hp, 2,993cc direct injection straight-six equipped with three turbochargers - is fitted to both the X5 and X6 and endows the two giants with prodigious acceleration.
Simply engage D on the eight-speed automatic and put your right foot down. Less than 5.5 seconds is needed to hit the 100 kmh mark, thanks to XDrive all-wheel-drive and 740 Nm of torque. That's even more than the 680 Nm found in the X5M and X6M.
And while most diesel engines give that addictive shove in the back at low rpm but rapidly run out of steam towards redline, the M50d's trio of turbos - two small for low rpm and one big for high - ensure power doesn't taper off as the revs rise.
And to alert other road users that you're not driving any regular X car, the M50d versions of both vehicles are kitted out with different front and rear bumpers featuring more aggressive air intakes and tailpipe surround.
A small gymkhana course was set up for invited guests to put the trio of cars through their paces and the X6, in particular, impressed with its manoeuvrability despite weighing over two tonnes. The relative lack of body roll when weaving in between cones marking the slalom course, and the absence of massive understeer, is commendable and is upstaged only by its superb braking prowess.
Torque vectoring is standard on the X6 and that really helps when performing manoeuvres that soccer moms are unlikely to enact on public roads.
However, the star of the show is actually the baby of the trio. The M135i is fast. With 320 hp from the familiar 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder petrol engine that also sees duties in the various other BMWs, the M135i scampers to 100 kmh in under five seconds. But where it really shines is on the handling course.
After the X5 and X6, the 1 Series feels like an F1 car. The class-leading handling has been upped a notch with M-specific suspension tuning and upgraded brakes. Four-piston callipers now grab 370 mm front discs and provide eyeball-popping retardation. Yes, it still looks nowhere as sexy as the discontinued 1M Coupe but in terms of handling and power, the M135i is more than its equal.
It's even more fun that the M3 - as well as the rest of the entire M range - that we were also given an opportunity to put through their paces.
The M135i will set you back a cool quarter million while the X6 M50d is nearly double that at $440,000. But what makes them worth the money is the M Performance range's more balanced ride/power alternative to a full-fledged M car.
Engine 2,979 cc inline-6 turbocharged
Gearbox 8-speed automatic transmission
Max power 320 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Max torque 450 Nm @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
0-100 kmh 4.9secs
Top speed 250 kmh
CO2 emissions 175 g/km
Price $245,800 (with COE)
Distributor Munich Automobiles
Tel 6899 6996