BMW's new M-powered versions of the X6 will be the first car to get a new turbocharged direct-injection V8 as the firm begins to move away from high-revving, naturally aspirated engines for its high-performance models.
Increasingly tough emission standards and soaring manufacturing costs have pushed BMW into the decision, which could alter the intrinsic character of all BMW M models.
The future of the 4.0-litre V8 in the BMW M3's and the 5.0-litre V10 BMW M5 is unclear, as both will make way for forced-induction engines, well placed Munich insiders have said.
The M-badged X6, which will be called xDrive M, is due in June. Its twin-turbo V8 is also earmarked for the next-generation M5, due in 2010.
Based on the X6 xDrive50i's 4.4-litre V8, the new unit is said to virtually match the existing BMW M5's V10 for power, at 500bhp, while providing much more torque - up to 516lb ft.
This should be enough to provide the top-of-the-line X6 with 0-62mph acceleration in less than five seconds.
"In terms of overall performance the new engine doesn't give anything away to the powerplant we run now, but it delivers much better consumption," a senior BMW M official told Autocar.
The moves comes on the back of confirmation from AMG that it is planning to add turbocharging to its 6.2-litre V8 when it introduces direct injection in 2010.
As well as developing its own new turbocharged engines, BMW's M division is also planning to equip new models such as the X6 xDrive M with features such as automatic stop/start and brake energy regeneration to improve fuel consumption and lower emissions.
The M Division is currently testing a new drivetrain incorporating technology from next year's X6 ActiveHybrid. The system uses a nickel metal hydride battery pack to power an electric motor, providing added new levels of performance.