Written on: 10/04/2008 by Tom H (110 reviews written)
The BMW X6 is the latest big 4x4 from BMW. Think BMW X5 on steroids and youre close. The German brand is calling it the worlds first Sports Activity Coupe (whatever that means...) but is it all talk and no trousers? Lets look at it closer.
Whats blatantly apparent is that all the styling cues traditionally associated with coupes have been applied to a car with challenging pro-portions. Theres a dramatic slanting roofline, exaggerated wedge-like profile and small glass areas on its sides.
However, the X6s unwieldy bulk seems to conflict with its sporty looks. The standard 19-inch alloys (20-inch versions come as an option) are completely dwarfed by the chunky stance and flared wheelarches.
Inside the cabin, BMW owners will feel a sense of deja-vu. It looks as though its been lifted straight from the X5 - which doesnt make it too bad. The driving position is fantastic, while the supportive leather seats, aluminium inserts and switchgear ooze quality.
But where this car disappoints is how it uses its size. Firstly, and probably only for reasons understood by Reithofers pet gerbil, its a strict four-seater - there are only two seats in the back, with a number of cubbyholes where your third-born or your dog might sit. And then theres the boot space of 570 litres, or 1,450 with the rear chairs folded. This sounds good, yet its a relatively shallow area.
Traditionally, BMWs prove their worth on tarmac, and the X6 is no exception. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel produces 286 horses of power and a huge 580Nm of torque. It does a great job of hauling the 2,185kg X6 along at speeds that cannot fail to impress.
But that hasnt stopped BMW from offering a range-topping 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine, producing 407bhp and 600Nm of torque. Its a reworked version of the 4.8-litre variant found in the X5, with two turbochargers stuffed between the V of the cylinders. This, according to one of the oberlieutnants at Beemer, this allows it to be extremely compact, so expect to see the unit squeezed into a host of smaller models in the near future.
Also available is the less powerful X6 30d and the six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol X6 35i these deliver 235bhp and 306bhp respectively. All cars feed their power via a smooth six-speed automatic box, with manual shifts via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
A new Dynamic Performance Control system also debuts in the X6. It is designed to work with the xDrive software found on the X5, which splits torque between the front and back axles, and sends extra power to the left or right rear wheel, depending on road and cornering conditions. Most of the time, the effects of the set-up are negligible, although in sudden manoeuvres you can really feel the outside wheel dig into the tarmac.
As an engineering feat, the X6 is difficult to fault. It shrinks around you and shows flashes of nimbleness that cars half its size can only dream of. But its no more exciting than an X5. And if its thrills youre after, the M5 Touring offers unsurpassed levels of performance, space for an extra passenger and a similar-sized boot for only a few thousand pounds more.
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