MUNICH, Germany – When I stood alongside the first-generation BMW X6, I thought it was way too big for a coupé-style car. Perhaps we get used to all manner of disagreeable things but, when I first laid eyes on it, I did not have the same thoughts with this third generation that arrives locally in December 2019.
Even better, during our drive in Germany, the new X6 never felt at all intimidating to hustle around the twisties. More on that later.
You definitely can’t accuse the X6 of being boring or run-of-the-mill. It has always turned heads and oozes premium appeal. The new model follows the tried and inevitable design theme of being longer and wider than its predecessor. To add to the sporty looks, it is a touch lower. More importantly, an increase in wheelbase by 42 mm boosts rear legroom to a commodious level.
Altogether much more athletic than the X5 with which it shares the majority of its components, the new X6 has a reduced glass area, a high, full-length crease line and a large kidney grille. Fortunately, it’s not completely overdone. To draw attention on the road, you can opt for an illuminated grille.
Produced in Spartanburg in the United States, the top-spec X6, the M50i we drove, is fitted with a 390 kW turbocharged V8 with twisting torque of 750 N.m. This is enough to propel the car to 100 km/h in a claimed 4,3 seconds, really making some sense of the SAC (Sports Activity Coupé) title that BMW chose instead of SUV.
The transmission is an eight-speed ZF auto that has proved to be one of the best available across a spectrum of applications. The axle bias can be directed towards the rear for more dynamic motoring and air suspension is optional, while active damping is standard. The wheels come in a variety of sizes (19 inchers are standard) right up to 22 inches to match the oversized grille.
For sibling comparison, the M50d uses the popular BMW engine configuration of a straight-six that measures three litres, and has 294 kW with 760 N.m of torque. This may slow the sprint time to 5,2 seconds but rewards its owner with a much lower claimed consumption. It’s certainly worth considering as an alternative.
Coming back to that grille, the M Performance cars have an attractive new accent colour. It’s called Cerium Grey but it’s probably best described as a light bronze titanium finish. LED headlamps are standard and options include laserlights that can extend the beam more than half a kilometre.
Vernasca leather upholstery enveloping generously proportioned seats and a rear-seat split of 40:20:20 can accommodate five with comfort and impressive legroom. With the large rear hatch, versatile carrying capacity is also guaranteed. Claimed boot capacities are 580 to 1 530 litres.
We noticed the test car had a mobility kit for puncture repair but a recess in the under-floor space means a space-saver can fit, like on the previous X6. Some of the many options include four-zone climate control, thermoelectric cupholders, panoramic sunroof and Bowers and Wilkens audio.
There is something special about driving on Germany’s autobahns. The new X6 boasts full connectivity including Wi-Fi, and detected speed limits along with restrictions imposed by the many roadworks (just like here). The speed limit is displayed in front of the driver. When this changed to a white circle with slanted black stripes, it meant there was no limit and it didn’t take long to accelerate to 200 km/h. It’s still strange to think this is legal…
The unknown roads and navigation directions dictated this was a one-off. The sheer size of the X6 immediately faded away on pulling into peak-hour Munich traffic. The navigation worked well, manoeuvrability was a breeze, the M50i’s V8 soundtrack a pleasure and controls easily mastered. It felt as effortless to drive as a hatchback.
While I’d be happy with an X4, there is something to be said for the X6’s status appeal.
FAST FACTSModel: BMW X6 M50i xDrive Steptronic
Engine: 4,4-litre, V8, twin-turbopetrol
Power: 390 kW @ 5 500-6 000 r/min
Torque: 750 N.m @ 1 800-4 600 r/min
0-100 km/h: 4,3 seconds
Top Speed: 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 10,7 L/100 km
CO2: 243 g/km
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Maintenance Plan: five-year/100 000 km