- Looks better
- Drives better
- Better equipped and cheaper to run than before
- No more exciting than before
- Not an inexpensive proposition
The concept of a Sports Activity Coupe may not sound like a best-selling proposition, but so far over 260,000 examples of the BMW X6 have found homes around the world. Until Mercedes unveils its direct rival, the closest you can come to the new X6 is thePorsche Cayenne or Range Rover Sport – which are both more conventionally-conceived than the BMW.
When the first X6 hit the streets back in 2008 it split opinion, and here in the UK was seen as a vulgar display of money without taste – most examples are to be found in the US or China. This latest example looks set to follow suit.
Its lines are more subtle, and there’s a hint of the firm’s recent 3 Series Gran Turismo or previous 5 Series Gran Turismo about the side profile, but it’s still on the big, bold and brash side. But then it looks like no other sporty 4x4, with a silhouette that can’t be matched by the bulk of a Porsche Cayenne or grand stature of a Range Rover Sport.
Sporty Handling and sporty engines
Clearly still of considerable bulk, BMW has spent plenty of time ensuring it doesn’t feel overly saddled by it, and the X6 is a genuinely fun car to drive. Sure the firm’s M3 or M5 will show it a clean pair of heels around a track, unless its wet and the X6’s four-wheel drive system comes into play, but you can genuinely hustle it along with convincing commitment.
Of course it’s not built, no matter what the marketing men tell you, for clipping apexes but what this ability does mean is you can cover backroad miles with surprising pace and stability. Increasing your speed is made even easier with the standard-fit eight-speed automatic gearbox, though you’ll need to add the optionally available adaptive damping systems to take full advantage of this car’s performance and grip.
But even if you end up with the ‘base’ 3-litre six-cylinder diesel found in the x6 xDrive 30d SE you’ll enjoy plenty of power; the 0-62mph dash takes just 6.7 seconds thanks to 254bhp and 560Nm of torque. It’s a diesel that heads the performance banner too, with the M50d using three turbochargers to boost that same 3-litre engine to 376bhp and a huge 740Nm of torque. For that car the 0-62mph sprint takes just 5.2 seconds. And the mid-range punch is equally ferocious.
When all’s said and done, and the M50d’s tracksuit-style sports garb is ignored, it’s actually the 4.8-litre V8 petrol that is the fastest. Its 449bhp allows the same benchmark sprint to be delivered in just 4.8 seconds. It also sounds the best, though you’ll have to face an official 29.1mpg (and real-world sub-25mpg) economy. By contrast the pair of diesels offer 47.1mpg or 42.8mpg.
Equipment and practicality
The BMW X6 is a premium vehicle, aimed at people with plenty of money and an emotional reason for choosing one over the more practical X5 instead. It mixes impressive levels of standard equipment with tempting optional extras. At a price.
Choose an SE and there’s 19-inch wheels, leather seats, sat-nav, DAB radio, cruise control, Xenon headlights and climate control as well as a raft of safety systems. But discerning buyers can add to that with the Pure Extravagance Packs for the exterior and interior or even go down the sporty route with the M Sport trim on the M50d model.
But for all its emotional appeal, this Sports Activity Coupe isn’t all style and no substance; the X6 will still happily hold five adults – that sloping rear roofline isn’t as restrictive as you might think it would be – and the boot is a pleasantly useful 580-litre space.
There really is plenty to like about the new BMW X6; technically it stands head and shoulders above what a car of this type should be able to do, with surprisingly nimble dynamics, useful practicality and technologically advanced engines delivering an excellent mix of performance and efficiency.
But this is not a car aimed at those who make their buying decisions from on-paper information alone, instead targeting owners who are looking for an emotional bond with their transport. And despite all of its ability and appeal, it just doesn’t get under your skin like a car of this type should. If you want to know why, read the full BMW X6 review to find out.