From £56,6908
Twin-turbocharged X6 makes for a surprisingly compelling alternative to the likes of a Range Rover Sport – on the performance front, at least

Our Verdict

BMW X6

The BMW X6 is an improvement on the previous generation, although the competition it faces is stronger than ever

  • First Drive

    BMW X6 xDrive50i SE first drive review

    Twin-turbocharged X6 makes for a surprisingly compelling alternative to the likes of a Range Rover Sport – on the performance front, at least
  • First Drive

    BMW X6 M50d first drive review

    With excellent attention to detail and improved practicality, there's no reason why this new second-generation X6 shouldn't be just as successful as t
Richard Bremner Autocar
14 October 2014

What is it?

This, for the moment, is the most powerful BMW X6 that you can buy. Its twin-turbocharged 4.4 litre V8 generates 444bhp, which is sufficient to catapult this SUV to 62mph in 4.8 seconds – plenty enough for most.

But for those feeling short-changed, there will soon be a 553bhp X6 M, which will deliver a more exacting test of this BMW’s new chassis. In the meantime, you can have the lesser xDrive50i in either M Sport or SE trim, as sampled here, and in both cases it comes with an eight-speed automatic.

This second-generation X6, the bulk of which has been redesigned, features upgraded engines, more equipment, no gain in weight, an improved drag coefficient and a style that BMW’s design department has aimed to vest with an air of greater maturity.

Key exterior features include a slightly lowered rear deck height, a more sophisticated nose that’s at least as imposing as the last, and a more complex arrangement of creases in its flanks that at the rear.

These, however, are rather reminiscent of the rather odd rear wheelarch sculptings flaunted by the pre-facelift version of the current E-Class Benz. Fussy, in other words.

What's it like?

The V8’s potency and noise are tempting reasons for choosing this decidedly indulgent engine over a diesel. Whether you’re listening to the 4.4’s bubbling idle from outside, or hearing its urgent, rhythmic high-rev pulse from within, this engine makes a substantial aural case for itself.

A 0-62mph of 4.8 sec is as deliciously unnecessary as 444bhp. Because the V8's coupled to a swift-shifting eight-speed transmission, the sheer thrust on offer is mildly amazing.

What's more impressive is that when you point the X6 at a succession of switchback bends, its roadholding, reassuringly accurate steering and body control combine to provide a surprisingly entertaining drive.

The X6 doesn’t quite have the mid-bend agility of the smaller Porsche Macan, but as a session on a test track reveals, the trick rear axle and the driveline’s ability to funnel a strong slug of on-the-limit torque through the front wheels will pull the X6 out of the understeer that may have been building to this point. All of which allows it to be conducted with a fluency that belies its size.

It’s less fluent, however, when there are bumps in the path of its sizeable wheels, as ridges and ruts kick up the odd sharp jolt that momentarily punctures the atmosphere of sophistication. Much of which stems from the X6’s truly impressive noise suppression and an interior whose horizontal sweep of dashboard, tastefully applied décor and high precision finish do much to ram home the impression that you’re aboard a luxury SUV.

So does the generous cabin space in the front, although rear space is less impressive. More of an issue, surprisingly, is the shortage of foot room in the rear, the bulk of the front seats preventing you from fitting your toes beneath them. Front seat occupants are better catered to, and they also get kneepads built into the centre console allowing them to better brace themselves during athletic cornering manoeuvres. Which sounds gimmicky, but can genuinely prove useful.

More advanced (optional) equipment includes BMW’s excellent head-up display, automatic parking, night vision and traffic jam assist, though as ever with German premium machines, unconstrained option-box ticking can produce a very expensive car.

Should I buy one?

If it’s a full-size, sporting SUV you that you need, and presumably an unmissable one at that, the X6 makes a strong case for itself against the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport.

It’s memorably brisk, rewardingly agile and has a cabin that’s a pleasure to occupy. The Porsche probably has the dynamic edge if you choose to drive these machines like hot hatches – and you’ll impressed at how easily you can do just that – and there’s sometimes a ride penalty to be paid aboard the BMW.

But whatever you think of this giant-size coupé of an SUV (and many were less than generous with their opinions of the original) there’s no denying that this beast combines impressive dynamics, high calibre quality and a surprising measure of practicality within its imposing envelope.

BMW X6 xDrive50i SE

Price £63,050; 0-62mph 4.8sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 29.1mpg; CO2 225g/km; Kerb weight 2170kg; Engine V8, 4395cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 444bhp between 5500-6000rpm; Torque 479lb ft between 2000-4500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic

14 October 2014
A giant, 4wd BL Princess for the 21st century? It surely is. BMW's '94 Rover buy-out begins to make more sense, now. And Harris Mann, your timeless creation lives on.

cdp

14 October 2014
How unfair to Harris Mann, the Princess was forward looking and for its time and far better looking than the X6.

Also the review criticises the BMW's ride, whereas the BL car had a superb ride. It also had loads of space in the rear.

Given the choice between a new X6 and a new Princess, I'd take the Red Robbo's finest every time. Ideally a 2200 HLS.

14 October 2014
At nearly 2200kg and that being that tall it stretches the imagination that it can be "rewardingly agile"

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

14 October 2014
...a grudging admiration with the engineer that can make this much ugly, hateful metal hurl itself down the road so quickly.


14 October 2014
Naysayers may say what they like, but that doesn't change the fact that there's not a car like this from any manufacturer on our roads today and for that reason I give the BMW a stout thumbs up for thinking outside the can - something that is unheard of among some of its brain-frozen competitors who've been churning out the same styling for generations now.

14 October 2014
fadyady wrote:

Naysayers may say what they like, but that doesn't change the fact that there's not a car like this from any manufacturer on our roads today and for that reason I give the BMW a stout thumbs up for thinking outside the can - something that is unheard of among some of its brain-frozen competitors who've been churning out the same styling for generations now.

I agree. While I'm not fan of the way the X6 looks (current and previous model) I have no issue with the coupe SUV concept and, seemingly, neither do hundreds of thousands of other people who have bought X6s which must have silenced the critics who claimed a coupe SUV would never sell, regardless of looks. The fact that Acura followed suit with the ZDX a few years ago and Mercedes will be introducing what I presume will be called the GLE coupe shows that the concept works and sells. But the only thing is whether this niche market is very exclusive, which will reflect in sales volumes which, while profitable, will be small compared to the conventional SUVs like the X5 and ML which the coupes are based on. That Acura ceased production of the ZDX may be a sign while, to my knowledge, Audi have no plans for a coupe Q7 or Land Rover with a RR Sport coupe or Porsche similar with the Cayenne.

14 October 2014
Lanehogger wrote:
fadyady wrote:

Naysayers may say what they like...

I agree... But the only thing is whether this niche market is very exclusive, which will reflect in sales volumes which, while profitable, will be small compared to the conventional SUVs like the X5 and ML which the coupes are based on...

It will never attract the multitudes that buy X5, Q7, etc. I suppose that (exclusivity) is part of this unusual car's charm.

14 October 2014
True but you can see the lineage. Visible in the X4, too, which is a modern pastiche of that other great Harris Mann creation - the Allegro. And how much better it was when cars had simple, evocative names. That a car must be named "BMW X6 xDrive50i M Sport" etc means somebody somewhere is taking themselves far too seriously.

14 October 2014
I don't care if it's a sales success. I don't mind that it exists. I would imagine it's even good to drive. But nevertheless this car plummets new unchartered depths of bad taste for BMW. And defiles their good name on the way down there. It's a very poor piece of Automotive design - fussy ? It's like a Walls Vienetta.

japester

15 October 2014
I can't be overly critical of BMW for making an impressively engineered car that buyers want. They are a business out to make money after all. However, I certainly don't like the X6 however good it may be. I'll confess I find most of the large 4x4s unpleasantly brash, but most have some redeeming features (practicality for example), not the X6 though.

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