Performance fans of BMW's mid-size Sports Activity Vehicle will have one more reason to look forward to in the coming year with news that a new and hottest-ever version of the BMW X5 M will return to the lineup for 2015. Making its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, this striking X5 M is based on the recast Gen III X5 SAV introduced for 2014 and will go on sale here during the first quarter of next year. 

High velocity visuals 

In keeping with tradition, the 2015 BMW X5 M cranks up its attitude index with a full complement of bolder body bits. Up front, xenon/adaptive headlamps from the X6 flank an edgier fascia treatment with bigger air intakes, a unique double-bar grille insert and aero flicks while the profile gets popped with prominent fender flares, M-logo side gills and the signature Air Breathers. Extra sting in the X5 M's tail comes courtesy of an aggressive and quite functional lower diffuser that houses twin-paired chrome exhaust outlets. 

More power and better economy 

Motivation for the 2015 BMX X5 M will come from an M-spec version of BMW's 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbo V8 also found in the current M5/M6 sedans. Here, it cranks out a stout 567-horsepower -- three percent more muscle than the engine in its predecessor last sold here as a 2013 model --and makes this the most potent engine ever fitted to any all-wheel-drive BMW. Even more telling, peak torque also is up by 10 percent - to 553 lb-ft - with all of it on tap between 2,200-5,000 rpm. The previous 6-speed autoshifter has been replaced by a bespoke version of the M Steptronic 8-speed automatic transmission with Launch Control and tri-mode Drivelogic. 

Teamed with BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive that can shift up to 100 percent of the available motive force to either axle, the revamped engine can send the 2015 X5 M storming from 0-60 mph in just 4.0 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Despite the extra muscle, a start/stop function and brake energy regeneration help trim fuel use and CO2 emissions by 20 percent on the European cycle and BMW anticipates similarly positive results when the official EPA numbers are released closer to its on-sale date. 

A champion corner carver 

Like every vehicle in the M Squad, the new X5 M optimizes its handling performance with a comprehensively upgraded chassis. Standard kit here  bolsters stiffer tuning and a lower ride height with three-stage Dynamic Damper Control, Active Roll Stabilization, driver-adjustable M Servotronic power steering and beefed-up M compound brakes that feature 50-percent larger brake pads but are 3.5 pounds lighter. Keeping the package properly planted, the new X5 M wears staggered-width 21-inch forged BMW M light-alloy wheels in Orbit Grey wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 285/35 up front and 325/30s in the rear.

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Although a power player at heart, the X5 M also features a full range of enthusiast-grade luxury touches starting with M multifunction front buckets done in Merino leather, Nappa leather-covered dash, anthracite Alcantara headliner, M-spec instrument cluster/displays and a new leather-wrapped, multifunction M steering wheel with aluminum shifter paddles. Other highlights include a new generation Navigation system, Harman Kardon surround sound audio and 4-zone climate control along with a downloadable M Laptimer app and optional head-up display. Pricing for the 2015 BMW X5 M will start at $99,650.

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