Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Choose from petrol or diesel engines
  • No hybrid or plug-in available – yet
  • M50i and M50d models offer huge pace

BMW caters for petrol and diesel tastes with the latest X6 SUV – but you can’t yet order a hybrid version. We predict it will only be a matter of time, since the donor X5 model already has a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version, badged 45e. Engineers have confirmed to Parkers that this is feasible, but availability will be determined by relatively low sales figures (BMW UK expects to sell around 1,400 X6s a year in Britain).

BMW X6 diesel engines

Choose from a pair of diesel engines: the xDrive 30d is the cheapest model in the line-up, yet is far from a poverty choice. Its power and torque outputs are rated at 265hp and 620Nm, meaning it is perfectly fast enough, with BMW quoting 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and a 143mph top speed.

If you want even more oomph, the M50d swells the performance figures further, with a stout 400hp and staggering 760Nm of pulling power. No wonder BMW quotes a 5.2sec 0-62mph sprint that will embarrass some sports cars, while top speed is pegged to 155mph. Both diesel engines are known from elsewhere in the range and although we haven’t yet driven them in the X6, we know they are well mannered and refined. You’ll scarcely know you’re in an oil-burner in our experience.

BMW X6 petrol engines

Although most Brits are expected to buy a diesel X6, there is also a choice of two petrol engines. The xDrive 40i is powered by a six-cylinder turbocharged engine with highly respectable figures of 340hp and 450Nm, for predictably fleet performance figures: 0-62mph takes 5.5sec and top speed is capped at 155mph.

The big daddy of the range (for now) is the BMW X6 M50i, whose thundering 4.4-litre V8 is more normally found in the M5 high-performance saloon. With 530hp and 750Nm of torque, acceleration is brutally fast and Munich claims the 0-62mph dash is dispatched in a scarcely believable 4.3 seconds. This engine’s trick is how refined it is in day-to-day driving, yet it takes on a sporting edge when the mood or need arises. In Sport mode, there is a distinctive V8 woofle that’s wonderfully old-school or out-of-kilter with our times, depending on your perspective.

xDrive all-wheel drive traction

Every BMW X6 comes as standard with four-wheel drive, meaning that both axles are driven. BMW calls this xDrive and it means that you’ll rarely notice the wheels slipping in icy conditions or on a wet road.

Even the most modest engine choice in the X6 range is in fact a fast car and the xDrive technology is a welcome companion to keep the high power outputs in check. It makes this SUV surefooted, even in wintry driving.

BMW’s familiar eight-speed automatic is the only transmission available. You can’t buy an X6 with a manual gearbox – instead computer algorithms juggle the cog-swapping for you, with impressive, oleaginous ease. It always seems to be in the right gear at the right time and you can override the electronics with standard-fit paddles to flick up and down the ratios if you fancy a bit of DIY gear-changing .

Handling

  • Remarkably nimble for one so big
  • Standard air suspension for comfy ride
  • BMW X6 lives up to its sporty billing

The BMW X6 is a big, heavy car yet they have somehow managed to make it feel nimble and agile. It sets the benchmark in this sector, along with the Porsche Cayenne Coupe, for sporting driving characteristics.

The driving position is actually quite high up, so the view forward is fine, but the lowered roofline and tightly packaged rear haunches mean rear visibility is more compromised. Everything feels a little more claustrophobic, a bit sportier in the cabin than in an X5’s – and this contributes to the more dynamic driving experience.

Fast, responsive steering helps, the X6 reacting immediately to inputs at the wheel, with no delay or woolliness about its feel. All X6 models in the UK come with air suspension at both axles, meaning that sophisticated air springs are used instead of traditional metal coils, letting engineers iron out the worst that British roads can throw at you. They’re complemented by BMW’s standard-fit Dynamic Damper Control, letting drivers choose sportier, firmer settings or a comfort-oriented mode.

There is a manual override letting you pick the mode you desire, or you can alternatively leave the system in automatic where it’ll intelligently juggle the suspension settings to mask road imperfections yet still keep everything tied down and sporty if you suddenly pull out to overtake.

Base models come with 19-inch alloy wheels (already a substantial diameter for the most modest rim), but such is the X6’s posing power that many buyers will trade up to bigger wheels. The range-topping M50i model comes with the largest 22-inch twin-spoke alloys as standard and we can safely report that the clever suspension set-up means the ride is acceptable even thus equipped. But if you truly value ride quality and comfort, we’d recommend sticking with a smaller wheel.