2010 BMW X6M Hamman

Abu Dhabi Motors have attached a special Hamman performance and body kit to one of their new X6Ms sitting in the showroom.

BMW launched the M version of its X6 crossover last year, which made the nearly two-and-a-half-tonne beast into a credible performance car. Its 4.4L, twin-turbocharged V8 churned out 550hp and 677Nm of torque - available at just 1,500 rpm - giving it a zero-to-100kph time of around 4.7 seconds while still keeping room for the family inside. Reviewers raved at its performance, and not just in power but in handling, as the sports-activity vehicle (BMW's moniker, not mine) tracked corners like a lighter, lither sports car. It was a truly a marvellous transformation over the normal X6. Some even said it went a little too far with its performance for a vehicle meant to haul people in luxury and comfort.

So what's the natural thing to do when BMW brings it to our shores? Make the car faster, of course. Those crazy technicians at Abu Dhabi Motors tacked on a special Hamman performance and body kit to one of their new X6Ms sitting in the showroom. With a new exhaust and a few extra bits, they've bumped up the horsepower to a lofty 600. And the difference is, quite honestly, astounding. The acceleration is frightening. It's less than four seconds to 100kph from a standstill, but the real eye-opener is when you're driving in traffic and you need a burst of acceleration to pass. Dropping the throttle, there's a momentary lag until the gearbox drops a cog, and then it suddenly explodes with a thundering scream, like a giant beast has suddenly been woken, and you're where you wanted to be in less time than you thought it would take. The first time I did this, I was absolutely terrified. I can't remember many cars that can do that.

The new, cat-back exhaust gives a much louder and more hostile sound to the V8. This doesn't just sound like a sports car, it sounds like a full-on race car; let's just say, in a society with more strict enforcement of the road rules, you might not get away with it for long. The body kit adds larger fenders, huge nostrils on the front and a wing at the back, as well as larger wheels and massive, low-profile tyres. To be honest, it's a bit over the top. Adding these extra flares to the smooth lines of the X6 makes it look more than just aggressive; it's almost a caricature of itself. But whatever you may think of it, this beast certainly stands out on the road.

Arno Husselmann, the manager at ADMC, says this car is for those who need a vehicle for the family that can also outmuscle a Porsche. And by Porsche, I don't mean a Cayenne, I mean a 911 Turbo. And while use of the word "need" can certainly be questioned here, he's got the vehicle for the purpose, amazingly. With the fat tyres and xDrive all-wheel drive, it holds corners like a sports car. There's little body roll, and taking a flyover in low gear at a higher speed with the engine screaming is an absolute thrill. Not that I'm recommending that. And, as you'd expect from any BMW, the steering is responsive and the handling is balanced.

Oh, and yes, it keeps all the luxury that you'd expect from a higher-end BMW. There is room for the kids, of course. And it's good that the interior is kitted out in full leather, because it will be easier to clean up the mess when the kids sitting in the back get sick while you take those flyovers at speed. Luckily, the boot isn't very big, due to the sloping roofline of the X6M, so you won't have too much cargo flying around the cabin in high-speed turns.

But even though it looks like an SUV, don't bother trying to take this into the sand. This is where the Cayenne has it beat, as the X6M Hamman is as useful off road as the Porsche 911 Turbo it's meant to compete with. A low stance and a lack of locking transmission and low gears mean it stays on the tarmac. Full stop. In the end, I'm not sure of the point in owning something like this. The X6M is already a bit ridiculous, and now this edition is just, like I said, over the top. For the same price, you could buy a nice, luxurious SUV that can also go off road and then go out and treat yourself to a real sports car like a BMW 335i, a Porsche 911 or even something like a Chevrolet Camaro SS. It's not really a car any sane person would think of buying.

Having said that, I fully expect to see the Hamman somewhere on our roads soon. nvorano@thenational.ae