2015 BMW X6 Review

BMW’s genre-busting SUV continues to lead the pack
Imthishan Giado

 2015 BMW X6 Launch

The original X6 was Munich’s first shot across the bow in its plan for global domination via an rapidly expanding series of ultra-niche products. It was also the first SUV to make us all collectively go, ‘what the heck….is it?”

Put plainly, it’s an X5 with a coupe-style body, a vehicle that wilfully slings away the inherent practicality of the SUV bodystyle in favour of a deeply sloping roof that adds…style points, I guess?

2015 BMW X6 Launch

Call me shallow if you must, but I like the X6; even now, it remains a striking piece of design. I don’t necessarily like all the weird and wonderful cars that BMW has spawned in the wake of its success – 3-Series GT, I ‘m looking at you – but it certainly has a right to exist.

For the launch we’re here at the Spartanburg plant in North Carolina that builds all BMW’s X models. And successful they have been indeed, with more than 2.8 million cars sold since 1994, reason enough for the Germans to park another $1 billion into Spartanburg to build the ever-expanding X range – which remember, now consists of X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6. Don’t bet against an ultra-lux stretch X7 popping up in the future.

2015 BMW X6 Launch

What’s new with the X6?

BMW has clearly not messed with success. Park the new X6 next to the old one and you might lose a game of Spot the Difference. Main signifiers to watch out for: the more angular front end borrowed from the X5, the Aston-style gilles on the side flanks and the 4-series-esque lights at the right. Impressively, BMW claims there’s been no weight gain on this new generation.

2015 BMW X6 Launch

The interior is a sea of good choices. Quality quality feeling-wood, soft touch surfaces in abundance and an eminently-expensive ambience, this is a great cabin. Dakota leather is now standard, as is dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth.

But while it ticks all the boxes there’s no real standout feature, more like a very-well ticked shopping list. Massive 9.2-inch infotainment screen? Check. Heads up display? Check. Adaptive radar cruise control? Check. And so on, and so forth. All in order and correct, but no surprise and delight.

Accommodation is predictably excellent for the front pews; rear seat legroom has been increased  (no doubt to accommodate the Chinese and Indian chauffeur-driven market) and headroom is just about all right for my 5’10” frame. Predictably, luggage space suffers for the sloping roof.

2015 BMW X6 Launch

What’s it like to drive?

Two engines will be available initially: a xDrive 50i twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 good for 450bhp and 480lb ft  familiar to Middle East buyers, while Europe gets a rather interesting triple-turbo diesel six with 381bhp and a mammoth 546lb ft of torque, all mated to ZF’s always-excellent eight-speed auto. Down the line, expect a 35i twin-turbo six; don’t expect one of BMW’s twin-scroll four-cylinder turbos for this weighty beast.

I had a brief blat in the diesel; it’s impressively torquey, impressively refined but as not impressively quick as you’d expect. For true aural satisfaction you must turn your attention to that wonderful, woofly twin-turbo V8, as good an engine as BMW’s ever produced and blessed with limitless reserves of power. Not to mention, it goes like thunder too; 0-100 in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 255 (limited as always). In an SUV! These would be Lamborghini numbers in an earlier decade.

The old X5 and X6 were woolly, indistinct cars to drive with indifferent steering and a wooden chassis. Not so the new X5 and this X6 – the electric steering is well calibrated for highway use in Comfort, switching to a sharper ratio the moment you select Sport Plus.

2015 BMW X6 Launch

The X6 employs a willfully weird combination of dynamic dampers at the front and air suspension at the back, but like Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett singing a duet, it somehow works. Comfort supplies a plush ride and a reassuring layer of body roll; in Sport Plus the damn car barely shifts an inch while doing the sort of cornering that’ll make your passengers upchuck their expensively-cooked lunches.

The track is the last place an X6 should be and yet it proves extraordinarily capable and more than a little fun, especially on the wet skidpan where you’ll quickly discover drifting a four-wheel drive vehicle is very different to a rear-driven one. Brakes are the only real drawback; they lasted about six laps before the pads were smoking in protest, but on road they’re perfectly acceptable and with good, progressive feel.

2015 BMW X6 Launch

But it can’t offroad, right?

Climbing Big Red on no-profile tyres is out of the question but the X6 will handle the average beach without issue. Think of it as ‘extra traction’ rather than offroading. The X6 sailed through Spartanburg’s basic offroad course; water wading, axle twisters and massive hills; of course it would, but the real world can be less forgiving. It’s still very much a road-biased SUV.

2015 BMW X6 Launch

Verdict

A rather nice car, this X6. No, it’s not exceptional in any one area but the sum of the parts somehow exceed the individual ingredients. Arguably better to drive than the Range Rover Sport and more luxuriously-equipped the Cayenne, the X6 still exists in a peculiar class of its own. Not a car for everyone, but then, like love, cars must come in many flavours….and for me, this one hits the spot.

2015 BMW X6 50i – The Specs

Price: TBA
Engine: 4,4-litre twin turbo V8, 450bhp @ 5500rpm, 480lb ft @ 2000-4500rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.8 seconds, top speed 255kph (limited), 9.7L/100km
Transmission: 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Weight: 2170kg

 

One response to “2015 BMW X6 Review”

  1. marc says:

    not because i am german, but i really like the slightly revised shape. and what you have to give to BMW is that they truly “invented” this catergory of SUVs.

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