| First Drive | Wick, Scotland | BMW X6 xDrive35d |
The genre-busting BMW X6 fuses sports cars style and performance with SUV underpinnings. That may sound like a recipe for disaster, but the result is extraordinarily effective, and really rather appealing.
In the Metal
There's no denying that the X6 is an odd looking car. That's perhaps because there has never really been anything like it before; a low roofed SUV that mixes chunky off-road style with sleek sports car lines. Looked at in profile - holding your hand up to the bold crease that dissects the door handles - the X6 is pure sports car. The fastback roofline tapers to the back, culminating around a kicked up rear that echoes BMW's own Z4 Coupé
. Remove your hand and its pure sports lines become diluted below that line, the sleekness making way for a more assured, heavy look that's closely related to the X6's X5 relative
Unusual it may be, but the X6 is certainly not without appeal. It is a confident, purposeful looking machine. A remarkably practical car too, that tapering roofline only reducing bootspace by 20 litres over the X5, the pair of rear seats also surprisingly accommodating. I'm not sold on BMW's 'coupé' tagline for its genre-busting SUV, but it definitely lives up to BMW's sporting claims in both looks and in the way it performs.
What you get for your Money
The X6 is the first BMW model to feature an engine range that's entirely turbocharged. The 3.0-litre turbodiesels are badged xDrive30d and xDrive35d, the latter being the proven twin-sequential turbo unit. The six-cylinder and V8 petrol engines also both feature two turbos, the 4.4-litre V8 unit in the xDrive50i something of a technical masterpiece - BMW somehow managing to package its two turbochargers and catalysts in the V between the cylinders. This is the debut for this V8 engine in the BMW line up, its 402bhp the most powerful non-M badged BMW V8 ever.
Also unique to the X6 is its Dynamic Performance Control system. It is this that's responsible for the X6's crushing, near physics-defying ability. Standard equipment across the range is acceptable, but it's surprising that BMW's active steering isn't a no-cost option on its most dynamic X car, while lack of standard Bluetooth telephony is unacceptable in this class.
The X6's natural gait seems to be around 80mph, it crushingly effective at covering ground. It does so with remarkable ease, the chassis so responsive and faithful to input it's easy to forget you're driving something so big and tall. That's largely down to the Dynamic Performance Control, its electronic wizardry apportioning drive to the correct wheel in milliseconds to give the X6 quite incredible cornering ability. The ride is nicely composed too and the body control excellent, making BMW's own segment-defining X5 feel clumsy in comparison. With BMW's Active Steering the helm feels a touch odd, if direct, but its inconsistent weighting has a very artificial, force-fed arcade game control feel to it.
The 282bhp 3.0-litre sequential turbodiesel in the xDrive35d is a hugely capable performer. The benchmark 62mph arrives in 6.9 seconds and it'll run up to 147mph. What's more remarkable perhaps is its economy. BMW manages to eke 34.0mpg out of this performance SUV thanks in part to its EfficientDynamics, while CO2
emissions are just 220g/km.
It's not just the diesel engines that offer remarkable performance and economy. BMW's power saving and scavenging EfficientDynamics is fitted to all X6s and when allied to those turbocharged engines allows them to punch hard, but limits their environmental impact. Even the range-topping X6 xDrive50i is able to return 22.6mpg - not that remarkable you might think, but for a heavy vehicle that's able to sprint to 62mph in 5.4 seconds that's impressive.
Like the best fusion cookery the recipe for the X6 initially jars, but the end result is extraordinary. Impressive as the engine line-up is it's BMW's wizardry in the chassis department that makes the X6 such a remarkable car. The combination of an SUV and sports car shouldn't work, but BMW has proved it can, producing a genuine genre-busting car in the process.