From £46,435
Despite the complexity of the technology the X6 hybrid is remarkably simple to drive

Our Verdict

BMW X6
The BMW X6 has challenging looks but impressive dynamics. It is good value too

The BMW X6 is a hard riding but generally accomplished big soft-roader. Just make sure you can live with the looks

  • First Drive

    BMW X6 M50d first drive

    Adds a dose of reality to the X6 M’s madcap formula with a groundbreaking engine that may shine brighter elsewhere
  • First Drive

    BMW X6 ActiveHybrid

    Despite the complexity of the technology the X6 hybrid is remarkably simple to drive
4 November 2009

What is it?

This is the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, and before we go any further let’s get the disappointment out of the way. Like the ActiveHybrid 7-series we drove last week, it won’t be coming to the UK because Brits like diesels too much. In the US, however, oil-burners are hard to shift, which explains why the new hybrid BMWs exist.

Under the bonnet, which is differentiated from standard versions of the X6 by a bulge necessitated by a power electronics package, sits a modified version of the X6 xDrive50i’s twin-turbocharged, 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine delivering 402bhp and 442lb ft of torque.

It is supported by a pair of electric motors mounted within the gearbox housing; the first has 91bhp and 192lb ft, while the second introduces a further 86bhp and 206lb ft.

What’s it like?

Given the complexity of the technology the car uses, driving the ActiveHybrid X6 is relatively straightforward. Climb up into the broad driver’s seat, slot the key into the ignition, press the dashboard-mounted starter button and… well, nothing happens. Well, nothing except the faint whirr of electricity powering up various systems, including the air-con compressor.

With sufficient charge held by the battery, the petrol engine remains idled. Draw the gear selector back, release the brake and with a gentle nudge of the throttle the X6 gracefully glides away, with only the rumble of the broad tyres providing any interruption to the otherwise eerie silence that you’ll get up to 37mph or a maximum distance of 1.6 miles.

It isn’t until the electrical charge of the battery is reduced, or you floor it with your right foot, that the petrol engine and the second of the electric motors are introduced into proceedings to boost performance.

Between the traffic lights along Miami’s ocean-front roads, where we tested the car, the ActiveHybrid X6 glided along in a hushed and unflappable manner, switching in and out of electric drive with impeccable efficiency.

At greater speed out along on Interstate 95, the introduction of the petrol engine on a continuous basis provided effortless in-gear performance at remarkably low revs, together with highly impressive levels of mechanical refinement.

BMW puts overall fuel consumption at 28.5mpg, but even on light throttle loads we had difficulty getting anywhere near it. The real-world figure, it seems, is somewhere closer to 22mpg, which sounds okay until you consider that the X6 xDrive35d sold 
in the UK is capable of 34mpg.

The hybrid architecture adds roughly 250kg to the kerb weight, taking it to a considerable 2450kg. However, the gain is all but offset by the extra reserves brought on by the electric drive, resulting in a 
power-to-weight ratio of 198bhp per tonne.

Although the claimed 0-62mph time of 5.6sec is fractionally slower than that of the X6 xDrive50i (5.4sec), subjectively the performance-enhancing qualities of the ActiveHybrid X6’s complex drive system are obvious in other ways.

The way this car can be made to haul away from the lights is nothing short of sensational. In-gear responses are also incredibly sharp, thanks to the ability of electric motors to deliver vast amounts of torque as soon as they are introduced.

Should I buy one?

The great thing about BMW’s hybrid technology is that it doesn’t significantly alter the character of the car in which it has been placed. The addition of electric drive only serves to enhance these qualities even further while providing the basis for improved fuel consumption and lower emissions. The problem is you can’t buy one in the UK, even if you wanted to.

Join the debate

Comments
11

8 November 2009

BMW should use hybrid technology on its M-cars. It will allow them to fit cars with taller gears, as they said they need to in order to increase fuel economy, while keeping high revving naturally aspired engines with low torque, which implies lighter mechanics. Hybrid too is fit for an M, as the throttle response is or gets even sharper. BMW M is going the forced-induction, auto transmission and SUV way. Too much AMG way IMO! Alpina had forced induction sports cars, sold by BMW dealers. Why not keep M true to its root? Pity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8 November 2009

Well the locals love X6 's here in the ME as they have loads of money and go in for bling in a big way. Hummers and other monster 4x4s are popular too.

However I think BMW are on the wrong track. Just look at that price ! I have to say I find X6's look scaringly heavy. How about binning the hybrid tech and weight and focus on making the cars lighter and sleeker in the interests of saving fuel and enhancing performance.

You seem to be very good at this with your small saloons so how about paring some lard off this monster as well.

8 November 2009

250kg added to the kerb weight with economy nowhere near as good as the diesel version? Doesn't make much sense.

Ok, so the X6 hybrid is a lot faster than the diesel and it allows lovers of V8 engines to drive this car with a bit less guilt, but if you like the X6, the diesel makes a lot more sense and if you must have a V8, go for the normal version which weights a lot less.

Now if BMW could make this hybrid system weight a lot less, that might be a different matter.

8 November 2009

I think this is the most pointless car in existence. The X6 body is ugly and cramped in comparison with any other SUV, while the abysmal economy and 'green' credentials are laughable in the face of twin-turbocharged and urea-injected diesel engines.

8 November 2009

I just don't get this car. It seems to be a similar environmental fraud to the Prius and Lexus Hybrids. If BMW is serious about environmental issues, and to date the efficient dynamics have led the way, why put such technology on such a high performance vehicle. If its to please americans why bother? Lets educate them instead to have smaller engines or the diesels which seem to achieve so much better real results. It seems to be Kentucky Fried Chicken all over again! they rebranded to KFC so americans could feel better by dropping the Fried! What interests me is a colleague and I have a choice of vehicles. He had a 3 litre Jaguar S-Type Petrol which did 25mpg puffed out smoke and his family said it had to go as un-environmentally friendly. So he bought a Lexus GS Hybrid. The boot was smaller than a Clio because of the batteries!. As a family when they went out as a family with luggage they had to take his wife's Galaxy, and he got 26mpg. But it went quickly and reliably. Throughout this I have had a 530d Touring. I regularly travel 4 up with luggage and average 39mpg. Its quick reliable and puts a smile on your face! On a relaxing trip it will do 45mpg by cruising at 70mph in 6th gear. If BMW must change direction lets see a full environmental audit to prove they are the answer rather the question. Why?

8 November 2009

[quote Dark Isle]

I think this is the most pointless car in existence...

[/quote]

Interesting point, but I think I've heard it mentioned before somewhere; just can't think where.....

8 November 2009

[quote BMWdriver] So he bought a Lexus GS Hybrid. The boot was smaller than a Clio because of the batteries!. As a family when they went out as a family with luggage they had to take his wife's Galaxy, and he got 26mpg. But it went quickly and reliably. Throughout this I have had a 530d Touring. I regularly travel 4 up with luggage and average 39mpg. Its quick reliable and puts a smile on your face! On a relaxing trip it will do 45mpg by cruising at 70mph in 6th gear. If BMW must change direction lets see a full environmental audit to prove they are the answer rather the question. Why?[/quote] Can anyone tell me why we have not seen a Diesel Hybrid. I would have thought that the PSA or Fiat or Merc would launch one. I would note that Premium Hybrids are not known for their actual MPG prowess so the choice of a heavy Hybrid like the Lexus was a dead duck choice to begin with. I would suspect that Urban driving MPG returns would be better. Our Holiday jaunts in a fully laden car are only improved by often doing more safe-stready motorway driving than the norm. Next time someone meets a designer from BMW -ask about the X6 and get the real answer. Its more a competitor in the US to the Q7 or larger Lexus Crossovers that have replaced the crap trucks in drag they bought till oil and cash turned out not to be almost free. Like Fiat at Rust, Alfa and reliability/poor dealerships, German cars and dark interiors-firm rides etc, Diesel in the states=bad air quality and pumps are in the same place as for trucks so it will take US carmakers and Toyota/Honda to convince Joe Washington to go for diesel versus plugging into cheap electricity costs.

8 November 2009

I have to applaud BMW for launching a proper hybrid at last, with the ability to drive on battery power alone. It's just a shame it has to be this monster. I had to laugh at the power bulge required to house the electronics. For such a huge vehicle, you'd think there would be sufficient space inside to house a control box or two.

9 November 2009

This is an utterly ridiculous car - technologically, it makes a step backwards, not a step forwards.

I would sooner see someone buy an X6 M and confess that they don't give a monkeys than buy one of these and pretend that they do.

How can BMW show off its EfficientDynamics concept and then spit this out?!!

9 November 2009

Whilst I agree that these cars are wasteful, surely it's preferable to make some attempt to cut fuel consumption than none at all?

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