- Striking coupé looks
- Impressively fast
BMW broke the mould when it developed its coupé-styled SUV, the X6 back in 2008 - now an all-new third generation model has entered the fray, and it really raises the bar.
Since BMW created the very first Sport Activity Coupe model, other manufacturers from premium marques such as Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have joined the race.
But the BMW X6, with almost 450,000 sales to date, is still class-leading.
Design and Practicality
The latest generation X6 has enjoyed quite a growth spurt gaining 26mm in length, 15mm in width plus a 42mm longer wheelbase. It is also 6mm lower to the ground so looks far more aggressively styled and also has a lower centre of gravity, which in turn, improves the handling.
But the X6 is a practical family car – albeit a pumped up SUV. It is based on its more sensible sibling, the X5, but has its very own character thanks to a dynamic styling with sharply tapering roofline that is guaranteed to stop onlookers in their tracks.
It also features the Bavarian car maker’s new design cues including the huge front grille which can even be illuminated on the X6 as an optional extra. Lots of M badging, 22-inch alloys and blue brake calipers complete the look.
Equipment and Technology
Move inside and the cabin is exceptionally driver-focused with a wealth of techno treats on offer. The sports seats and steering wheel are power adjustable so getting the perfect driving position takes a matter of seconds and there are memory settings to store favourite positions.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include a Harmon Kardon sound system, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, gesture control and a head-up display. And most functions can be accessed via the familiar BMW iDrive controller which is very easy to operate on the fly.
There is also BMW’s new personal assistant system which is brought to life with the magic words ‘Hey BMW’ and can follow clear instructions such as finding your favourite radio station, programming in a popular destination in the sat nav or altering the temperature on the seat heaters. Clever stuff.
Although the X5 is the more practical car, the X6 still has a decent sized boot that can swallow 580 litres of kit, increased to 1,525 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding back seats dropped down. Rear passenger space is also far superior on the X5, but there is ample room for a trio of youngsters to sit comfortably in the back of the X6.
And it is worth noting that, as well as a host of innovative safety features, the X6 comes with xDrive – the company’s highly effective all-wheel-drive system so it will keep you going even if Mother Nature has a bit of a mood swing.
Engine and Performance
When it comes to performance, the X6 drives as aggressively as it looks. The acceleration through the eight-speed automatic gearbox is sharp and constant and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added driver engagement.
There is a choice of diesel or petrol engines and three trim levels called Sport, M Sport and M Performance. We opted for the most powerful diesel model in the high-end M Performance trim. This car, powered by a 3.0-litre V6 400Bhp engine can sprint from 0 to 62mph in 5.2 seconds with a top speed limited to 155mph.
With a whopping 760Nm of torque on hand, the power at your disposal is breath-taking with blisteringly quick acceleration that would be more akin to a hot hatch.
According to official figures, it can deliver a combined 40.9mpg, too.
There are driving modes called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport that alter the way the vehicle behaves and reacts. In addition, the X6 comes fitted with Dynamic Damper Control as standard across the range. This not only enhances the ride and handling, but also improves the vehicle’s dynamic characteristics with a choice of two settings – one for a sportier experience and the other focusing more on refinement and comfort.
The road-holding is ultra grippy and even on 22-inch wheels, the X6 showed no sign of body movement no matter how hard it was pushed into bends and corners. It does feel quite heavy and well planted, but at 2.2 tonnes it’s still nimble enough to manoeuvre through busy town centres.
It cruises at motorway speeds with ease and the only real downside is the driver visibility due to wide B pillars and a narrow rear screen. But that was my only gripe after a week behind the wheel and special mention to the upgraded roll stabilisation system on the latest model that makes straight-line driving more comfortable by cushioning the bumps along the way.
All in all, the new X6 has picked up where its predecessor left off and taken a giant leap forwards with a new look, cleaner more powerful engines and lots of extra kit. If you like the look of the original BMW X5, but want a slightly more sleeker version, then the BMW X6 may be exactly what you are looking for.