Here lies the brilliance of the X6-it is a fantastic blend of the desirable SUV qualities-high ground clearance, presence and a commanding driving position-and the performance and handling of a sports coupe. BMW says the X6 is a Sports Activity Coupe. Think of it as the offspring of an SUV that mated with a sports car. This kind of vehicle will at best be a niche-within-a-niche’ but that doesn’t stop it from being hugely desirable.
There’s a lot more substance under this X6 than its unusual looks would suggest. It shares its platform with the X5, which is not a bad place to start. It’s a more driver-focused version, one that looks sportier than a full-fledged SUV and it is in this blurring of lines that the X6’s appeal lies.
Imported into India directly from BMW’s Spartanburg plant in the US of A, the X6 shares a lot of its interiors, several of its dimensions and a few mechanical bits with the X5. The wheelbase at 2933mm is the same as the X5’s as is the front track. The rear track, however, is far wider than the X5’s partly because of the new rear differential and partly because of those humongous 315/35 R20 rear tyres. Although it is only 55mm lower than the X5 at its highest point, the combination of the sloping roofline and shallower side glazing makes the X6 look incredibly imposing, even intimidating. The steeply raked window line further accentuates the car’s deep body sides and dramatically swollen wheel arches. It’s a design that turns heads, and here, it wins a very crucial victory. The Porsche Cayenne has certainly been toppled by the X6 for visual drama.
Central to the X6’s appeal is the engine. With a diesel-like bottom-end torque that feels more locomotive than automobile, the engine is never sort on grunt. The engine is never short on grunt. The tremendous thrust that this engine musters so instantaneously is so addictive that you have to make a conscious effort to stay at prudent speeds. 0-100kph is dispatched in a scarcely believable six seconds flat and it will cross 200kph in under 25 seconds.
There aren’t many tall, 4WD cars weighing as much as 2,190kg that feel as agile as the X6. The X6’s optional active steering (it increases assistance and speeds up the rack at low speeds, while reducing assistance and applied lock at higher speeds) is accurate and has fantastic feel. In ‘Sport’ mode, the adaptive drive system swivels the anti-roll bars and adjusts damper rates, so there’s almost no body roll and keeps the X6 supremely stable through corners. You can throw the X6 through corners, the massive 315 rear tyres claw into the tarmac, the xDrive and the new differential sorting out any mid-corner traction issues you might have. It’s a BMW after all.
Which brings us to the ride – you expect the 20-inch wheels and the run-flat tyres to give your kidneys a hard time over anything less-than-perfect tarmac. But happily this is not the case. Yes, the ride is firm and thumps over sharp bumps, but it doesn’t get as uncomfortable as you would expect. Of course, it’s nowhere near the cosseting you get in a Mercedes-Benz M-class.
You would expect a lot of space inside but you’ll be disappointed. The X6 is a pure four-seater and rear accommodation-given the slope of the roofline-is not impressive. BMW has done what it can; there’s plenty of shoulder room and the cabin roof is contoured to allow as much headroom as possible. Legroom is perfectly acceptable, but there’s no getting away from the fact that anyone of above-average height will probably feel cramped, especially given the X6’s high waistline.
Up front, space is fantastic though. There’s enough headroom, legroom and width to make finding a comfortable position on the snug seats easy. The building blocks of the interior are basically the same as the X5, including the entire dashboard, front centre console and door trims. The cabin is a fine place to be in, thanks to its high-quality construction and well thought-out design. If we could find fault with it, it would be that it looks too much like any other BMW cabin.
Oh, and the rearward visibility through that small rear windshield is pathetic. Reversing and parking can be a nightmare in the confines of the city. You do get parking sensor, but a reverse camera is sorely missed. It is an expensive option though.
As expected, fuel efficiency is dismal. With a high kerb weight and a huge engine, this car feels like it can empty a petrol pump if you drive by too fast. For the record, we got 3.3kpl in the city and 5.1kpl on the highway. So, despite the 85-litre fuel tank, you’ll be visiting fuel pumps quite often too. You can take consolation in the fact that the fuel is getting used to provide some serious fun.
BMW X6 X Drive 501
The X6 costs Rs 1.09 crore. At this price and for this kind of car, desirability, sex appeal and performance are everything. Here the X6 excels. It can outrun most sports cars, stand out of the crowd in most parking lots, and has the added bonus of its willingness to be taken by the scruff of its neck and driven hard. It’s a sports car on stilts. Yes, the ride could have been better, it could have been more spacious, lighter and more frugal. If you need the practicality of an Suv, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a sports car and an Suv, then here’s both.