What’s Hot: Exceptional performance, V8 engine is a pearler, not all that that impractical.
What’s Not: Price gap between X5 and X6, choppy ride.
X-FACTOR: As brawny as a heavyweight boxer, but far more agile than its muscled-up flanks suggest.
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $151,600 (plus on-roads), $160,400 as-tested
Engine/trans: 330kW/650Nm 4.4 turbo petrol 8cyl | 8sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.7 l/100km | tested: 12.9 l/100km
If you’re the kind of guy (and odds are, you’re definitely a guy) who likes your car to project an image that’s loud and in-your-face, consider the X6 xDrive50i.
Until the X6 M arrives next month, the 50i is the fastest model in the X6 range, blasting from zero to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds. That’s just 0.2 seconds slower than the X6 M, but at a far more-sizeable $43,100 price advantage.
There’s more to the X6 50i than mere straight-line speed and aggressive styling though. It is, upon closer inspection, less compromised than you might have expected.
Indeed, if you don’t need the sheer room or seven-seat capability of the X5, the X6 would arguably serve you just as well. We spent a week behind the wheel to test it out.
Quality: It might look familiar to anyone who’s been in a current-gen X5, but there are more leather-upholstered surfaces and ceramic trim accents inside the X6 than its more upright sibling, and the ambience is a little more upmarket.
Comfort: Look at the X6 side-on, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that headroom isn’t generous. The X6’s chopped roof and fastback styling makes for a pleasing silhouette, but isn’t it cramped in there?
Well, actually, not at all.
Even the back seat offers plenty of noggin-space for adults, and, while it does feel a little cosier than an X5, it’s by no means claustrophobic.
Heated and power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable steering column and four-zone climate control are all standard too, and enhance the X6’s liveability rating.
Equipment: At $151,600 it’s not unreasonable to expect a fat standard equipment list, and the X6 xDrive50i delivers plenty.
A head-up display, digital radio tuner, 10.25-inch sat-nav/infotainment display, powered tailgate, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlamps, Harman Kardon stereo, front and rear parking sensors and a top-down parking camera view are all standard on the 50i.
Along with the M50d, the xDrive50i also scores BMW’s Driving Assistant Plus package at no cost, bringing radar cruise control and a self-parking function.
Besides the aforementioned DAB+ digital radio tuner, the stereo system can also source music via USB or Bluetooth connections, and pipes sound through sixteen speakers via a 600W amplifier. Music can also be stored on a 20GB onboard hard drive.
And the X6’s infotainment system can be expanded upon greatly via BMW’s ConnectedDrive teleservices Depending on which package you opt for, a range of internet-based services like Google search, real-time traffic updates, a phone conceirge and an internet browser are at your disposal..
Storage: The power-opening tailgate glides open electrically with the push of a button, revealing a seats-up luggage area of 580 litres - 75 litres more than the previous X6.
Drop the 40:20:40 split rear seats and you get a sizable 1525 litres of cargo volume. Impractical? Hardly.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The X6 xDrive50i is powered by a beastly 330kW/650Nm twin-turbo 4.4 litre V8, offering 30kW and 50Nm more than the preceding model and capable of flinging it from rest to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.
Let that just sink in for a moment. Empty, the X6 50i weighs 2170kg. Zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds is genuinely impressive for something so portly.
The way it continues to stack on speed is equally as eye-widening. Rolling acceleration is one of the X6’s fortes, and it’s helped by having eight gears to choose from and negligible turbo lag.
Surprisingly, fuel economy isn’t as woeful as you’d expect of a twin-turbo V8 lugging 2.1 tonnes. Our average of 12.9 l/100km was pretty far from the factory claim of 9.7 l/100km, but not a bad result for a behemoth like the X6.
Urban cruising is effortless thanks to the engine’s huge low-end torque, and the gearbox rarely puts a foot wrong when left to its own devices.
Relaxed around town yet a monster when the accelerator is mashed, the X6 xDrive50i does the Jekyll and Hyde thing very well.
Refinement: There’s a bit of tyre noise on coarse-chip surfaces, but other than that the X6’s interior is pretty serene.
Ride and Handling: The X6’s wheels don’t come any smaller than 20 inches, and there’s a trade-off in ride comfort as a result.
Over sharp bumps and corrugated roads it can feel a tad brittle, even with the drive control selector set to 'Comfort'. Dial it up to 'Sport', and the effect is multiplied.
On the other side of the coin, the xDrive50i boasts razor-sharp handling that shames other SUVs.
A thrust-vectoring rear differential, all-wheel drive and those four enormous rubber contact patches give this two-tonne monster a huge amount of grip, and the responsive (though unengaging) steering allows the X6 to change directions in the blink of an eye.
Braking: The 50i’s huge all-disc stoppers barely raise a sweat in an emergency stop, and they hold up well during prolonged hard usage.
Equipped with Cornering Brake Control as standard, the 50i’s brakes also do their bit to improve agility by gently braking the inside wheels to aid turn-in.
Rating: The BMW X6 has yet to be rated by ANCAP
Safety features: Six airbags are standard and both front seats get anti-whiplash headrests. In the event of a crash, the ConnectedDrive system will also automatically call emergency services.
Crash avoidance tech includes the usual stability control (switchable) and traction control (also switchable), along with ABS, EBD and brake assist.
For the 50i, you also get active cruise control, along with a 360-degree top-down camera view
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Servicing costs can vary according to usage, though BMW offers fixed-price servicing plans that covers all scheduled servicing for five years/80,000km.
For the X6, the BMW Service Inclusive package costs $1440.
HOW IT COMPARES
Well this is awkward. Right now there are no direct competitors for the X6, though Audi’s Q8 is nearing production and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is shaping up to go on sale locally in the latter part of this year.
For now though, BMW has the fast-backed luxury SUV niche all to itself.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Don’t dismiss the X6 as just another SUV with sporty pretensions. Its ability to go, handle and stop is sportscar-like, and the level of grip it can achieve is an affront to the laws of physics.
It’s a true heavyweight with brawny styling to match, and that’s a combination that moneyed-up buyers will find appealing.
But you’ll pay dearly for that image. There’s a $17,670 price gap between the X5 xDrive 50i and the X6 xDrive50i.
Part of that is explained by the X6’s higher level of standard equipment, but rational thinkers - not quite so driven by the heart - will perhaps see the X5 as better value given they share the same basic mechanical package.
But cars like the BMW X6 xDrive50i aren’t for rational thinkers. They’re for those who want to deviate from the norm - and can afford to do so.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
2015 BMW X6
- xDrive30d - $115,400
- xDrive50i - $151,600
- M50d - $157,900
- xDrive35i - arriving 2015
- xDrive40d - arriving 2015