If you are not intimidated by a 2.1-tonne crossover that towers over traffic yet can tear through tight corners at astonishing speed, perhaps you should.
Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel six, 225kW/600Nm, 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, Combined economy 7.5 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 6.5 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4877mm long, 1690mm high, kerb weight 2110kg, luggage capacity 570/1450 litres, fuel tank 85 litres, 19-inch wheels on 255/50 tyres.
We like: Top class powertrain, astonishing chassis, lots of technology.
We don’t like: Not exactly a major upgrade, poor rear visibility.
How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
The X6, the BMW everybody loves to be confused by, has been facelifted. But don’t call it that – at least not around your local BMW dealer. Because when BMW upgrades a car it’s called a Life Cycle Impulse (LCI).
The headliner-grabber in the X6 LCI range is the X6 M50d, developed by BMW’s M Performance division and featuring a diesel engine with three turbochargers. More about that at a later date – but for now, let’s stick to the X6 xDrive40d Sport, powered by a 3.0-litre diesel with ‘only’ two turbochargers.
Visual changes are minor, mostly around the frontal styling. But there are some interesting developments in equipment and options. Full LED headlights are now standard on the 40d, while you can also order the car with a $1300 ‘power dome bonnet’ (as fitted to our test vehicle). For looks only, of course – and you might be interested to know that it’s carried over from the X6 hybrid, where the extra bonnet height was actually required!
The new X6 also now comes with five seats. Previously, BMW had insisted the X6 was a coupe and to make the point, only provided seating for four. But common sense (or perhaps customer demand) has prevailed, and this enormous vehicle can now carry five adults.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Given that BMW calls the X6 a Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) – basically a cross between an off-roader and a sports car – you have every right to expect the car to be driver-focused.
And it is. The turbo-diesel engine is sublime, faultlessly smooth and devastatingly powerful – enough to catapult this 2.1-tonne machine to 100km/h in just 6.5 seconds. Truly astonishing.
For all that, the X6 is still a slightly cynical machine. Not because of its idiosyncratic styling, but because of an amazing chassis system called Dynamic Performance Control. In addition to the usual proactive antics of BMW’s xDrive system, Dynamic Performance Control shifts power left-to-right and right-to-left under hard cornering, effectively ‘pushing’ the car around a corner and improving speed/agility. With its help, the X6 does amazing things when you start to throw it around. It really does deserve to be called a sporting crossover.
So what’s the problem? Well, Dynamic Performance Control is not available on any X5 (the car on which the X6 is based) except for the X5 M. It could easily be, but it’s not. The only reason I can think of is that BMW wants to maintain a dynamic advantage for X6 and ensure it’s seen as something more than just a funny looking X5.
Bad sports, BMW. Plus, the X6 has a wider track and lower centre of gravity, so it’ll always be a slightly better drive than the X5.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
Surprisingly, for the most part yes. The seating position is low and so is the roofline, so you feel like you’re in a sporting machine but you have all of the visibility of a high-riding crossover vehicle. Granted, you cannot see a thing out the back thanks to that sweeping roofline and tiny rear window – that’s why you’re so glad of the parking radar all around, camera at the rear and even a 360-degree bird’s eye view if that’s how you want to look at it.
The loading lip for the boot is absurdly high, but regardless of how it looks there’s actually a generous amount of space in there (500 litres minimum). Case in point: I once carried three adults and three mountain bikes in an X6. It can be done.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
If you are not intimidated by a 2.1-tonne crossover that towers over traffic yet can tear through tight corners at astonishing speed, perhaps you should. There really is nothing like the X6, and ultimately if you don’t like the self-consciously weird styling then I’m sure any BMW salesperson would simply point you in the direction of the X5 – same car underneath, more space, less aggression. Hard to argue with that.
Air conditioning: Dual climate
Audio: CD, iPod compatible
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
Blind spot warning: No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Gas discharge headlights: Bi-xenon
Head-up display: Yes
Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
Lane guidance: No
Leather upholstery: Yes
Parking radar: Front and rear with camera, including top-view
Power boot or tailgate: Yes
Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: Yes
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Self-parking technology: No
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Stop-start: YesTrip computer