These are the first official pictures of BMW’s production version of the vanguard X6 four-wheel drive coupe.

The X6 will be the firm's first model to receive a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine when it goes on sale late next spring. The 90-degree unit, which will power a number of new performance-orientated BMW models in the next 12 months, is billed as a replacement for the company’s existing, normally aspirated 4.8-litre V8, in a move that underlines a commitment toward engine downsizing from Munich, through a combination of twin stage turbocharging and direct injection.

BMW's new firebrand 4x4: X6 xDrive50i

 

Producing 407bhp at 5500rpm along with a prodigious 443lb ft of torque between 1750rpm and 4500rpm, the blown V8 starring in BMW's range-topping X6 delivers a creditable 40bhp and 81lb ft more than BMW’s naturally aspirated V8.That’s enough to launch the range-topping X6, the 2190kg xDrive50i model, from zero to 62mph in just 5.4sec – better than a 650i automatic. Fuel consumption is a claimed 22.6mpg.

Design and dimensions

Based on the X5’s platform, the X6 shares its wheelbase but it’s longer, by 23mm at 4877mm, and wider, by 50mm at 1983mm. The sloping roof and a lower ride height make it 86mm lower than the X5, at 1690mm.

Despite the X6’s large frontal area and obvious bulk, BMW claims a drag co-efficient of 0.33 – better than a Smart Fortwo - thanks to tricks such as flaps behind the grille that only open when the engine requires additional cooling.

Inside, the X6's cabin and trim design draws heavily on that of the X5. Front seat height is put at 944mm, with individual rear seats for two passengers. Boot capacity is a nominal 570-litres – 70-litres less than the X5 - rising to 1450mm with the split fold rear seat lowered.

Target: best-handling 4x4 on the road

 

The X6 aims to dislodge the Porsche Cayenne as the best-handling SUV. Building on the X5’s accomplished chassis, it comes with BMW’s new torque vectoring unit that allows drive to be varied between the front and rear axles dependent upon traction, and between the left and right wheels for greater agility, improved traction and less steering effort.

Other improvements on the X5 include a 56mm wider rear track for added stability. Six-cylinder models come as standard with steel springs, with the more upmarket V8 riding on air springs.

The rest of the range

Along with the new twin-turbo V8, the X6 will also be offered with Munich's twin-turbo six-cylinder petrol engine – the 3.0-litre with 306bhp/295lb ft - in the £42,925 xDrive35i.

The majority of British sales will come from a pair of 3.0-litre common rail diesels; the twin-turbo 286bhp/428lb ft xDrive35d at £44,135, and the £41,995 235bhp xDrive30d.