The X6 is now in its second generation. When the first version arrived, it’s raison d’etre was questioned by new-model-weary journos and much of the motoring cognoscenti. Well, BMW still sold more than 260 000 E71s worldwide (including approximately 2 300 in South Africa). Success was ensured by the famous badge, top quality and rather striking, sleek styling, even though some say that it’s ugly. Based on the X5 underpinnings and slightly tweaked from the previous X6, the newcomer’s about 75 kg lighter and, importantly, retains its head-turning stance.
The details of the full range of X6 are 32 pages in length, so let’s cut to the chase and tell you where the M50d slots in. The range starts with the xDrive 35i (225 kW and costing R947 500), then the xDrive 40d (230 kW, R1 052 500), xDrive 50i (330 kW, R1 163 000) and finally the M50d (280 kW, R1 327 000).
However, it doesn’t stop there. You still get the pukka M versions. Diesels don’t usually sound all that great, but this one has a very meaty note, more like a V8, in fact. With 740 N.m of torque on tap, acceleration should be more ferocious than most will need, but remember this machine weighs 2,2 tons so it shouldn’t scare you. What is difficult to achieve, is a smooth take-off. With the torque rising from 460 N.m to 740 N.m from 1 000 r/min to 2 000 r/min, the ECU needs to err on the side of caution. BMW did a good job, but pullaways can sometimes can be jerky.
The same can be said for the eight-speed gearbox. To some six ratios would be more than sufficient, so, with eight, the ‘box is going to get a bit confused with just what the ideal ratio is for any given moment. The most fun can be had by choosing manual mode and using the steering wheel paddles. Drive is sent to all four wheels with a variable torque split – and on the M50d its biased towards the rear wheels.
Suspension (adaptive M-Sport on this model) is also well-engineered and allows for some absorption and pretty decent handling ability. Consider the X6’s sheer size and mass, you don’t want to pretend that you are in a low-slung sports car. The steering feel follows along the same theme. It’s pretty good for an electrical system but, if you turn the wheel slightly while stationary, you can feel the odd springiness that lets you know there is a lot of machinery connecting the wheel to the road.
Interior comfort and appointments cannot be criticised. It’s all there plus there are a multitude of options available. Our test car had a mix of Alcantara and leather upholstery that was particularly impressive.
Fuel consumption is quoted as 6,6 L/100 km which is better than excellent. You will have to drive your M50d rather sedately, however. On our trip of mixed but brisk driving we achieved around 12,0 L/100 km which is still much better than the petrol versions. Rivals? Hard to tell, really. Porsche Cayennes, Range Rovers and possibly the up-coming Jaguar or Maserati SUVs?
Oh, and that all-important question – does it have a spare wheel? Yes, but it’s a space saver, so you will have to keep the speed down until you can sort out your 20-inch wheels and tyres.
Model: BMW X6 M50d
Engine: 3,0-litre, in-line 6-cylinder, tri-turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed Tiptronic automatic
Power: 280 kW at 4 000 r/min
Torque: 740 N.m at 2 000 – 3 000 r/min
0 to 100 km/h: 5,2 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption: 6,6 L/100 km
CO2: 174 g/km
Towing capacity (braked): 2 700 kg
Maintenance plan: 5-years/100 000 km Motorplan
Price: R1 327 000
*According to BMW