With the X3M and X4M on the horizon, we thought it best to pay homage to the SUV that paved the way for BMW’s more comprehensive foray into the ultra-fast hauler market—the F85 X5M. Okay yes, the E70 X5M and, to be perfectly accurate, the E53 4.6is / 4.8is came before it, but the F85 variant brought brand new aftermarket possibilities that we simply hadn’t seen with the X lineup before.
We’ve put together a list of our Top 10 mods to give both current X5M and X6M owners some inspiration and new X3M and X4M owners some insight into what parts could develop with BMW’s exciting, new platform.
RKP F85 X5M / F86 X6M Carbon Front Lip
Aside from being one of the most beautiful lip offerings on the market, this RKP lip also boasted something unique—a 5-minute installation process. It might not be something that most consider when shopping for aftermarket parts, but the ability to do something yourself in such a short amount of time often saves a hefty chunk of money (for more mods). In regard to design cues, the lip itself does a very clever job of carrying forth the OEM lines from both the bumper openings and wheel arch areas. At every angle, you’re able to admire just how much more complete the front end looks, with added aggression to boot.
What it Does: The RKP F85 X5M / F86 X6M lip is a carbon add-on piece for the front bumper. While both SUVs certainly look the part from the factory, the RKP lip adds that little something that makes the car feel that much more special, something worthy of that coveted M badging.
Defining Features: RKP has always been known for their ability to craft aero solutions that echo BMW’s own design philosophies. The X5M lip is no exception here—the lip flows across the entire width of the X5M / X6M bumper and envelops each end, adding a gorgeous carbon fiber accent to the front fascia. Like many other RKP offerings, the X5M / X6M variant is available in both 1x1 and 2x2 weave patterns. Oh, and before we get caught up in the design details, let’s not forget the 5-minute install.
Acexxon F85 X5M Rear Reflector Insert Set
Carrying on the theme of details, Acexxon’s X5M reflector inserts further reiterate the X5M’s sporting character. While other Acexxon variants come in either honeycomb or slatted patterns, the X5M version draws inspiration from the rear diffuser grille pattern. This little touch adds some welcomed visual harmony to the rear of the car.
What it Does: The Acexxon rear reflector set is a direct replacement for the OE units. Because of the bumper’s “scooped” design around this area (coupled with BMW’s recent use of air curtain technology), adding these vent-like inserts visually flow a lot better than two slabs of red plastic.
Defining Features: As aforementioned, the X5M inserts are rather special design-wise compared to the rest of the Acexxon lineup. As an added benefit, installation is a quick endeavor—you’re able to carry out the entire process from the bumper fascia rather than having to fuss about underneath the car or behind any wheel well paneling.
Eisenmann F85 X5M / X6M Performance Exhaust – Race Variant
If there’s one area that the X5M suffered, it was with the OE exhaust note. While turbos provide that extra oomph, they rob away sound in the process—this aural void has made an aftermarket exhaust virtually a “must have” mod for F85 X5M / F86 X6M owners and we believe the Eisenmann Race is the one to have.
What it Does: The Eisenmann Race exhaust is designed specifically to maximize power output and exhaust note characteristics while simultaneously shedding significant weight compared to the OE back box. This is achieved by deleting the OE muffler entirely and replacing it with an all-new, hand-crafted exhaust that utilizes two high-flow resonators. In true Eisenmann fashion, the new unit mates up with all OE hanger locations and the OE center section with ease.
Defining Features: This particular variant of the Eisenmann Race boasts a 4x102mm tip set (as opposed to the standard 4x90). As a result, the exhaust looks as menacing as it sounds. As with every Eisenmann system, you are guaranteed to receive a hand-built unit constructed out of high-grade 304 stainless steel to ensure your exhaust will stand up to all the abuse you’re able to deliver with your right foot.
IND F85 X5M Cosmetic Package
Do it once and do it right. The X5M cosmetic package from IND bundles all of the aesthetic essentials—front grilles, painted front reflectors, side grilles, and trunk emblem—in a variety of finishes to suit your taste. Matching painted hood and trunk roundels (in either gloss or matte black) can also be optioned for those with the keenest attention to detail.
What it Does: The IND F85 X5M cosmetic package renders a sweeping visual transformation throughout, immediately distinguishing you from any other X5M on the road. For US cars, the deletion of the unsightly front reflectors is a must to put us on par with our (more fortunate) European counterparts. A cosmetic package suited for night vision equipped vehicles is also available.
Defining Features: Unlike other offerings, IND uses OEM cores in every cosmetic kit, ensuring a flawless fitment that can only be rivaled by their paint match guarantee. Over twelve years of experience has made IND an undisputed authority in this market and countless discerning BMW enthusiasts continue to trust them for their accrued expertise. As full replacement units, reversal to stock is entirely possible should that situation arise.
3D Design Aluminum Shift Paddle Set - DCT
While exterior enhancements are certainly some of the first that many enthusiasts tackle, the interior can’t be overlooked—after all, we spend most of the time behind the wheel. To that end, behind the wheel is exactly where the next part brings us: 3D’s aluminum DCT paddle set makes every shift an absolute pleasure.
What it Does: The 3D Design DCT paddle set is a full aluminum replacement for the subtle, plastic OE units. As a visual treat, the brushed aluminum peaks out from the multi-function wheel, beaconing for an assured pull up or down a gear. The available grip surface on each paddle is larger compared to the OE units they replace and have been ergonomically designed on either side to ensure they are as communicative as the car itself in any driving condition.
Defining Features: 3D’s paddle sets have become an icon over the past decade and are a staple in any judicious BMW enthusiast’s cars. The paddle shape is unique to 3D Design, as is their impeccable brushed finish. Color matching the set to your vehicle color (as well as contrast painting the “+” and “-“ symbols) is also available as an added option.
BMW M Performance F-Chassis Carbon Shift Knob Cover
Carbon fiber continues to be an upward trend in both exterior and interior appointments. One of the most popular mods for DCT F-Chassis cars (including the F85 X5M) is the M Performance carbon shift knob cover. As a standalone item, it adds a dash of carbon—a bit of drama—and calls attention to the knob. As a compliment to the full M Performance carbon trim kit, it acts as the proverbial cherry on top.
What it Does: This M Performance part is a full replacement for the otherwise silver shift knob cover. In a matter of minutes, you’re able to remove the OE piece in favor of this carbon clad version. No additional modifications necessary.
Defining Features: As a BMW part, the directional 2x2 finish is as perfect as can be. With the carbon cover in place, the glossy shift pattern insert is now more stealthy—allowing the M Logo adorning it to appear more pronounced.
BMC F85 X5M / F86 X6M Performance Air Filter Set
While often times an all-new intake system will net more power, we have to concede that BMW got it right from the factory with the F85 X5M / F86 X6M airbox. Nevertheless, the OE filters inside each airbox housing could certainly use an update. Originally based in Italy, BMC has grown into an international powerhouse and trusted name for professional motorsport (including F1) and street car air filter applications.
What it Does: The BMC air filter set replaces the OE paper units with much more robust oiled cotton variants. This in itself will minimize the loss of air flow pressure through the filter, which yields more (and consistent) power throughout the rev range. Crucially, this power gain is achieved while simultaneously ensuring no harmful contaminants enter the engine.
Defining Features: Whether it’s pure coincidence or not, all of these Italian filters are red. These filtration elements reside within BMC’s unique one-piece housing which safeguards each unit from undesirable breaking that is more common with welded designs. BMC’s filters promise maximum air permeability while also ensuring 98.5% air filtration and capture of impurities as small as 7 micron.
RKP F85 X5M / F86 X6M Carbon Bumper Insert Set
It’s a testament to a brand when two products are able to crack the Top 10 list for a single chassis, but RKP has done just that with these popular carbon bits. Rivaling only their front lip in ease of installation, these bumper inserts simply stick onto the front fascia in a matter of minutes.
What it Does: Virtually identical to the OE pieces’ signature design cues, the RKP carbon bumper inserts add an additional layer of carbon to the front of the vehicle. With these in place, the glossy carbon finish befits a car of its pedigree and price range.
Defining Features: As aforementioned, the overall aesthetic mirrors the OE plastic garnish, but the effect is much more impactful in carbon. These inserts are available in either 1x1 or 2x2 finish to coordinate perfectly with your carbon front lip of choice.
Akrapovic F85 X5M / F86 X6M Carbon Rear Diffuser
While most companies have stuck with a tried and true finned design, the Akrapovic carbon diffuser breaks convention completely. Engineered using high-grade racing materials, the Akra unit features a sleek, chiseled center section that draws your eye toward the exhaust tailpipes.
What it Does: The Akrapovic F85 X5M / F86 X6M carbon diffuser is a direct replacement for the OE unit and attaches using the factory points in the bumper. Paired with an aftermarket exhaust to fill out the cavity, the diffuser’s impact is heightened and appears even more aggressive than as a standalone item.
Defining Features: In a sea of uniformity, it’s a refreshing sight to see such a departure—we first saw this design language on the M3 / M4 before its appearance on the X5M, but we think they’ve done a stellar job of scaling it to the SUV’s proportions.
KW Suspensions F85 X5M / F86 X6M Coilover Kit – Variant 3
It may seem absolute overkill to put a coilover kit on an X5M. After all, it’s not like the factory suspension is a total slouch. But your opinion would change completely after driving one with V3’s.
What it Does: KW’s Variant 3 is one of the most popular for any car, so it’s no surprise that it was the definitive choice when they decided to create a coilover for BMW’s super SUV. The coilover is a full replacement for the OE shocks and springs with independent adjustments for both compression and rebound throughout the recommended height range:
- Front: 0..4” to 1.6”
- Rear: 0.4” to 1.4”
The front spring is progressively wound, ensuring a perfect blend of comfort and performance all in one, whereas the rear setup is optimized to work with the factory air. An EDC defeat is also included.
Defining Features: KW is one of the few companies that subject their products to a 7-post driving dynamic test procedure. This unique advantage allows KW to ensure each system they produce yields consistent results through exhaustive and controlled environmental conditions. It also allows KW to extract valuable data about each chassis (wheel load variations, attenuation, sway bar testing, construction frequencies, minimum tire forces, etc.). This attention to detail and commitment to engineering is what sets KW apart from the rest.