What is it?
Nothing less than a whole new genre of car, according to BMW. The german car-maker refers to this, its new X6, as a Sports Activity Coupe, or SAC. Others call it a crossover 4x4. And we’re the first to drive it.
Given our brief stint behind the wheel of a validation prototype on Michelin’s test track in South Carolina this week, it is clear BMW is taking a big risk with its latest model. The radical new X6 attempts to blend the inherent sportiness of an upmarket coupe with the go-anywhere ability and toughened styling of a luxury four-wheel drive. The result is a car quite unlike anything else on the road today.
It’s difficult describing the way this car looks to those who’ve never seen it in the metal. Imagine the arched roofline of a 6-series sat on the high-sided body of an X5 and you’ll begin to get some idea of what BMW has created here. It likes to refer to the car as a coupe, but with four doors and a huge one-piece liftback that opens up to reveal an enormous boot, it’s a coupe unlike any other you’ve seen.
The production version of the X6 is little changed to the concept revealed at the Frankfurt motor show back in September. The basic styling, with its taut surfacing and heavy creases, is highly reminiscent of the X5, although BMW says each body panel is unique. As with its more practical sibling, the body is a combination of steel, aluminium and plastic. No kerbweight figure has been put forward just yet, but you can bank on it being over 2000kg in base trim.
Photographs tend to mask the X6’s real size; it’s actually both longer and wider than an X5. Thanks to its more acutely raked windshield and shallower side glass, though, the X6's roof is around 60mm lower.
Practicality has clearly been a secondary consideration, with entry to the rear severely restricted by the intrusion of the large rear wheel arches into the door apertures, and rear seat headroom compromised by the heavy curvature of the roof. In an odd move, BMW has also decided to equip it with just four seats – a move that’s clearly aimed at separating it from the X5, which now comes with the option of a third seat row to boost its seat count to seven in total.