2015 BMW X6 xDrive35i
3.0L I6 TwinPower Turbo - 8-Speed ZF Automatic w/Paddle Shifters
300 HP @ 5800-6200rpm
300 lb-ft @ 1300-5000 rpm
Nine out of ten people think that the BMW X6 is just a beautified, more exclusive X5. In a way that is true, practicality and interior space are seriously compromised in favour of a sloped aggressive roof and a sexier bum. But to create a Sports Activity Coupe (that is what BMW calls it) there is no other way to do it. And keep in mind, that till Mercedes-Benz introduced the GLE Coupe, the X6 was in a category of its own.
We all admit that the Germans are smart, so they would never offer “a worse” X5. Thus, it is vital to take a step back and get into the Sports Activity Coupe state of mind before the evaluation begins. Once our thoughts where X5 free, we realized what the X6 really is; it is a jacked up sports car with a commanding view of the road. Consider it a vehicle tailored to the needs of middle-aged wealthy people not willing to bend and crawl into low sports cars.
The X6 is available with three engines to choose from; the entry level xDrive35i, the xDrive50i and the X6 M. All of them are turbo charged making 300 HP, 400 HP and 547 HP respectively. Prices for the first one start at $69,890, while our test vehicle came with a sticker price of $87,015 as it was equipped with the Premium Package ($4,900), Nappa Leather Premium Seating Package ($3,900), LED Lighting Package ($2,500), ConnectedDrive Services ($500) and a few stand alone options like Convenience Telephony with Smartphone Integration ($600), Ceramic Control (($575), Active Steering ($1,650) and the Dynamic Adaptive Suspension ($3,500). Needless to say, the vehicle was loaded with all the luxury oriented bells and whistles.
The beautifully sculpted body with the aggressive roof line and raised bum brings the word “muscle” to mind, no matter the viewing angle. The 315mm wide tires on the 20” alloy rims give away the sporty nature eliminating any thoughts about it being a boring crossover. Opening the door, brings you face to face with what could easily be one of the sexiest interiors ever found in a crossover if its size. The dashboard is covered in stitched leather and the majority of surfaces are high grade squishy materials that are nicely put together, minus a misalignment of trim right next to passenger air vent that is hopefully an issue specific to my press car. Ergonomically sound, it reeks exclusivity and with the excellent iDrive system in place, the infotainment system is easy to navigate and very quick to respond. All switch-gear feels high quality and and getting comfortable is a breeze given the crazy amount of available seating adjustments to your disposal. The absence of “holly shit” handles might surprise you at first, but considering how low the roof is, you’d probably end up banging your head on them more frequently than actually use them, so good call ditching them. The seats are ultimately supportive and the two tone interior is cleverly designed, having black colour in places it gets the most dirt. Roominess in the front seats is ample enough to consider it comfortable and plush, but the same doesn’t apply to the rear seats. There is very limited headroom and legroom is not much better either. Two adults of medium built will happy sit there, as long as it is just the two of them and the cruise is not to long. Also, the sloped roof has impacted the usability of the large on paper trunk. It might offer 570L of space, plus a hidden compartment under the floor, but the limited height is a real problem. Anything a bit taller, like a folded stroller with big wheels, will simply not fit. You can also forget about placing suitcases upright. The slopped rear windshield is about 2-3 inches away from the tonneau cover, so removing the cover won’t help much either.
With practicality out of the picture, performance becomes the biggest expectation. The 3.0L TwinPower Turbo straight six engine is a unit BMW uses in almost all series. It is a great performer with spirited characteristics but in the X6 it has met its match; the curb weight. The lightest X6 weighs in at 2,170 KG and that alone is a major bruise in the engine’s ego. Zero to 100km/h comes in 7.8” despite the best efforts put in by the launch control, so it may not be slow, but it is not really fast either. The good news comes from the throttle response and gearbox, as the 8-speed ZF auto makes the most out of the engine’s power by getting the gear right all the time. In sequential mode it snaps through gears faster than you can imagine and then stuck in traffic, it is really smooth and easy going. It also works very well with the auto start/stop system, making its operation seamless and jerk free. Fuel economy is also kept reasonable, as over the week-long loan, we averaged 12.3lt/100km.
Where the X6 really starts to shine is when the roads become twisty and the excellent chassis gets to showcase its virtues. At that exact moment, you also realize that the Sports Activity Coupe idea isn’t that bad at all. It starts to make perfect sense, as a tall vehicle that looks great can also handle that well. It is on par with the Cayenne when it comes to cornering ability, but parked side-by-side, the X6 is definitely better looking. Push hard in the corners and while body roll is minimal, the xDrive helps you maintain a neutral slide on all-four; as long as Sport+ is selected. The traction limits are very high, so no matter the mode you are in, the stability control will rarely interfere. The active steering is a bit of a disappointment as it feels way too light and vague around the centre whereas traditionally, crisp heavy steering is found on the firm’s vehicles. Despite that odd finding, the brakes are very strong and effective, as from 100km/h the X6 came to a complete stop in just 39m.
The dynamic adaptive suspension does a decent job keeping a good balance between ride comfort and dynamic handling. Over bumps and cracked pavement, it soaks up most of the impacts making the X6 a comfortable and refined ride. The only real complaint would be the negligible difference between comfort and sport mode as they both feel equally firm.
If you walk into the showroom and even glimpse at the X5, the X6 is probably not the vehicle for you. If however, while trying to get out of a 4-Series you feel your back pop stretch and crack, I would highly recommend you take one for a road test. One thing is for sure, cramped sports cars that ride like salamanders have a new rival that looks like no other.
Active Steering Feel