What’s Hot: Stunning performance for an SUV, bold looks.
What’s Not: Limited rear headroom, fussy ride.
X-FACTOR: As the lovechild of a sports car and an SUV, the BMW X6 does a decent job of merging the best attributes of both in one package.
Vehicle Style: Fastback SUV
Price: $120,700 (X6 xDrive30d) - $157,900 (X6 M50d)
225kW/400Nm 3.0 turbo petrol 6cyl
330kW/650Nm 4.4 turbo petrol 8cyl
190kW/560Nm 3.0 turbo diesel 6cyl
230kW/630Nm turbo diesel 6cyl
280kW/740Nm turbo diesel 6cyl
8spd automatic automatic standard across range
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.0 l/100km (xDrive30d) - 9.7 l/100km (xDrive50i)
The first generation BMW X6 launched in 2008, and oh how we laughed. “An SUV coupe," we howled, "who in the world would buy something so compromised?”
As it turns out, a lot of people.
More than 260,000 X6s have been sold worldwide since its introduction, which surpassed BMW’s own estimations by a cool 110,000 units.
So, even BMW underestimated the appeal of the X6.
And now there’s an all-new one. Based on the same underpinnings as the still-fresh F15 X5, the F16 X6 comes with a more opulent fit-out than its wagon-bodied brother and puts a greater emphasis on performance.
The range is also slightly less complex than the X5, with no four-cylinder or two-wheel drive variants offered. But it's also more expensive than its more conventional bro', with an X6 xDrive35i costing nearly $14,000 more than a similarly-engined X5.
Will the new X6 prove to be as bizarrely popular as its predecessor? We drove a few around the Yarra Valley in Victoria to make an educated guess.
MORE: BMW X6 Price & Features
- Dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, powered front seats, head-up display, cruise control, Dakota leather upholstery, leather-wrapped dashboard and centre console, rear air outlets, reverse parking sensors, around-view parking camera, side-looking cameras, power tailgate.
- Infotainment: 10.25-inch LCD display, satellite navigation, iDrive controller interface, AM/FM/CD stereo (9 speakers in 30d, 16 speakers in all other variants), USB audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
- Luggage space: 580 litres minimum, 1525 litres maximum.
Though it may be based on the X5 underneath, BMW Australia has bumped up the X6’s standard spec level to give it a more upmarket feel than its more upright stablemate.
Inside you’ll find a leather-upholstered dashboard and centre console that’s almost identical in shape and layout to the X5’s.
A 10.25-inch colour LCD display is the centrepiece, and is the primary interface for the X6’s navigation, audio, phone and connectivity systems. Under the instrument binnacle lives another 10.25-inch display for the instrument panel.
Every X6 comes prepped for BMW’s optional ConnectedDrive suite , which brings live traffic updates, on-board internet browsing and instant connection to a phone concierge who can look up and upload directions to nearby restaurants and other points of interest.
A head-up display is standard across the range and so are front and rear parking sensors; a top-down camera view; powered front seats and adaptive LED headlamps - yet there’s still a lengthy list of options.
And the options range from the mundane (a digital radio tuner and heated front seats - both standard on the 50i and M50d), to the exotic (a pedestrian-sensing night-vision camera, a heated steering wheel or soft-close doors). The scope for personalisation is massive.
In terms of passenger comfort, the new X6 is about on par with the old one.
The sports front seats feature a huge range of adjustment and offer great comfort as a result, while the standard Dakota leather is nicely supple.
Step up to the M Sport package (which BMW Australia expects 70 percent of buyers to do), and the interior gets a little moodier thanks to a black headliner, aluminium hexagon trim and an M Sport steering wheel.
Outside, the M Sport package brings more aggressively sculpted bumpers and side skirts, along with black chrome trim and 20-inch M Sport alloys.
The back seat offers a full-width bench (BMW launched the original X6 with just two seats in the back, and quickly learned from its mistake), and knee, foot and shoulder room are plentiful.
Headroom, as you’d expect for a car with such a sleek roofline, isn’t fantastic. This 5’8” correspondent had only an inch of airspace above his noggin, and taller passengers may be challenged.
However boot space is definitely more generous than before. Seats-up capacity has swelled by 75 litres to a total of 580 litres, and folding the 40:20:40 split rear seats creates a 1525 litre load area.
Every X6 variant also comes standard with a powered tailgate, and the 50i and M50d also allow you to open the tailgate simply by waving your foot under the rear bumper - handy for when your arms are full of groceries and/or screeching offspring.
ON THE ROAD
- X6 xDrive35i: 225kW/400Nm 3.0L turbo petrol inline six
- X6 xDrive50i: 330kW/650Nm 4.4L twin-turbo petrol V8
- X6 xDrive30d:190kW/560Nm 3.0L turbo diesel inline six
- X6 xDrive40d: 230kW/630Nm 3.0L turbo diesel inline six
- X6 M50d: 280kW/740Nm 3.0L triple-turbo diesel inline six
- Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive.
- Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension. Optional adjustable dampers, rear air springs.
- Disc brakes all around.
- 20-inch alloys standard.
The range currently comprises the inline six turbodiesel xDrive30d, the twin-turbo V8 xDrive50i and the triple-turbo diesel M50d, the flagship of the X6 line up.
The turbo petrol xDrive35i and mid-spec diesel xDrive40d join the range later in February, making for a total of five different powertrain options.
All are equipped with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission, though none have a genuine low-range transfer case. Still, if you’re buying an X6 to go off road, you’re doing it wrong.
Though it doesn’t have as bewildering an array of suspension options as the X5, the X6 can be specced with one - or more - of four different suspension configurations.
The Comfort, M Suspension, Dynamic and Professional suspension packages each feature electronically adjustable dampers and rear self-levelling air suspension, with specific settings for each.
The Dynamic suspension package also brings torque vectoring, and is standard on both the xDrive50i and M50d.
However while the X6 certainly corners like nothing else its size, the adaptive suspension packages we experienced on both the M50d and xDrive30d (the latter had the optional M Sports pack), were skittish and unsettled over choppy tarmac.
The steering is also a touch vague around dead-centre, just like the X5. It weights up nicely the further you turn it, but it feels dull for something that’s pitched as a sporty model.
The ride is resolutely firm, even in Comfort mode. We’ve yet to experience the standard non-adaptive suspension, but with all models rolling on 20-inch alloys and run-flat rubber we’re not expecting marshmallow-like levels of compliance.
Thankfully the engines are pearlers, no matter which one you choose.
Even the entry-level 30d possesses immense tractability from its 190kW/560Nm turbodiesel six (which has 10kW and 20Nm than before), while straight-line performance in the twin-turbo petrol V8 xDrive50i is simply mega.
The M50d is the one for “responsible” performance fiends though, with a zero to 100km/h sprint of just 5.2 seconds (only 0.4 seconds behind the 50i) yet an average thirst of 6.6 l/100km (3.1 l/100km less than the 50i).
But for our money, we’d be going for the highly likeable 30d. BMW Australia agrees, and expects between 60 and 70 percent of X6 buyers to opt for the entry-level diesel.
ANCAP rating: The F16 X6 has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Standard safety equipment includes traction control, stability control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, hill descent control, anti-whiplash front headrests, pretensioning front seatbelts, and dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Right now, the X6 doesn’t have any direct rivals.
That’s set to change once the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and Audi Q8 arrive, but with no timeline announced for a local introduction of either it looks like BMW will have the fastback SUV segment all to itself for a little while longer.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
We can summarise the new X6 with one word: "more": more power, more torque, more efficiency, more equipment, more luxury, more space.
Are you going to see hordes of them crowding Aussie roads?
No, the X6 will always be a niche offering.
And will it be as popular as its predecessor? Perhaps not, given that it will soon be competing against two new rivals from Audi and Benz.
Also, the X6 concept is now in its second generation. It’s no longer wild, new and radical; and for well-heeled buyers looking for whatever is trending, the fresher new rivals from Audi and Benz will surely drag some sales their way.
But that’s just us speculating. We could be wrong; if there was ever a car that we’ve been wrong about before, it’s the X6.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
2015 BMW X6
- xDrive30d - $115,400
- xDrive50i - $151,600
- M50d - $157,900
- xDrive35i - arriving 2015
- xDrive40d - arriving 2015