latest rule breaker from BMW
the new X6. Fast, furious and
formidably must-have, BMWs
Activity Coupe is also packed with
cutting-edge technology that really
does deliver driver benefits. And
with prices starting from £42K, can
you honestly afford not to buy one?
SO 4X4 SUVS OR SPORTS ACTIVITY VEHICLES, (SAVs) as BMW prefers
need to be tall, high-roofed glass houses. Not anymore; because BMW is just
about to introduce their new X6 Sports Activity Coupe which goes on sale in
the UK from 31 May (2008).
Of the 1,600 X6 vehicles available to UK customers this year, over 1,200 have
already been sold. Next year, in addition to around the 7,000 X5 SAVs they sell
annually, BMW UK expects to sell 2,600 new X6s.
The X6 takes BMW's X5 to a further and much more radical stage in its development.
It takes the X5's design, layout and technical attributes but then adds coupe
styling from the waistline up to create a five-door Sports Activity Coupe
a world first, says BMW, and a logical next step in the process of anticipating
The X6 sets a new performance benchmark for 4x4 SUVs with the world debut of
its unique Dynamic Performance Control rear differential and advanced stability
systems, designed and engineered to provide car-like driving and handling capabilities.
The vehicle also includes other fuel- and CO2-saving EfficientDynamics elements.
The new model range is BMW's answer to the undoubted success achieved by the
Range Rover Sport it too benefits from a lower roofline over the 'glasshouse'
standard Range Rover. Perhaps the X6's only other competitor is the Porsche
Cayenne. In answer to that, BMW points to the lack of a diesel engine option
for the Cayenne a major sales issue. However, the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz
ML should also be considered as rivals.
BMW UK obviously hopes that customers opting to buy the new X6 will mostly be
conquest customers to the brand rather than existing customers moving from BMW's
high-selling X5 range. Given that well over 50 per cent of existing X5 sales
are for seven-seat models (BMW UK's order books are full until September), the
four seats offered in the new X6 will not see many buyers making the change
from X5 to X6.
BMW UK believes that the customers who are being attracted to the X6 are buyers
who want the command driving position a BMW 'X' product provides, but they also
aspire to the sporting style of a coupe. Early adopters looking for something
unique in the market and people who must be seen driving the latest premium
wheels are certainly candidates for X6 ownership. So, too, are BMW X5 (or any
other premium Sports Activity Vehicle or SUV) owners whose family has left home
but who still desires a similar car but one that doesn't scream 'family'.
At launch, the X6 range will consist of three models but a fourth, the 50i (a
4.4-litre, V8 turbocharged petrol), will become available from November this
year. For the first time in BMW's history, a model range has been launched solely
powered by turbocharged engines: two petrol and two diesels. Both diesel units
30d and 35d are sub-225g/km giving a VED Band F rating of £210.
Both petrol engines 35i and 50i are Band G, with a VED cost of
Prices for the new BMW X6 range start at £41,965. A price for the range-topping
X6 50i has yet to be announced, but it is expected to be close to £50K.
BMW UK predict that 85 per cent of X6 sales will be for diesel models with about
12 per cent of customers choosing the flagship 50i turbocharged petrol variant.
So far the vast majority of advance order customers have chosen the 35d turbodiesel
version, which costs £44,145.
Perhaps this particular moment is not the politically correct time for a high-performance
sports coupe wrapped up in a SUV body, with a lower roof and all the aggressive
styling looks of a Raid Rally competition car, to be making an appearance. But
try telling that to real customers who, as already noted, have snapped up 1,200+
of the 1,600 X6s available in the UK this year even before the official
Anti 4x4 lobbyists, traffic congestion, high fuel prices, demand for lower CO2
vehicles and ever higher personal taxation levels are all having an effect on
new and used car sales. However, customers with plenty of money, and those not
worried by increasing costs and who really want to stamp their independence
on the type of car they wish to buy the more outrageous the better
will love the BMW X6.
With prices from in excess of £40K plus lots more if you specify all
the must-have options the X6 is big, bold, brash. And very fast and capable.
It might be a high-off-the-ground 4x4 but forget the X6 being an off-roader.
Although it will cope with muddy tracks, snow, ice and flooded roads better
than any sports car, the X6 is all about having a high-profile, very fast and
capable sports machine.
The X5's imposing front end styling, plus wide stance and five-door layout,
has been amalgamated with what looks similar to the upper section of the 6-Series
coupe. The X6 is 1,983mm wide (more than the X5) and it is 23mm longer as well,
at 4,877mm. The overall height is 1,690mm. Depending on engine size, the X6
weighs in the region of 2.2 tonnes and for the record in particular for
'lifestyle' owners the maximum braked towing weight is in the region
The X6 carries just four passengers in luxury. Not five or seven, as
does the X5. It has a large tailgate accessing a reasonably large load area
(570 litres) that, while marginally less than the X5, can be increased to a
substantial 1,450 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded, making it plenty
large enough for the golf bags and trolleys.
The steeply raked rear roof section gives the X6 a dramatic sports side profile
although it does limit headroom for six-foot tall rear seat passengers. Headroom
getting in and out of the rear passenger doors is also limited. The steep angle
of the tailgate and high waistline also restricts rear visibility. However,
the interior is exceptionally well equipped and of high class.
Engine options consist of four turboed units: the 235bhp 30d and 286bhp 35d
diesel units with better fuel economy and low CO2 emissions. For some well-heeled
owners economy is nothing more worrisome than how fat the car goes between fill-ups
and for them the 408bhp turbocharged petrol unit, the 4.4-litre, V8 50i to be
launched in November, will be irresistible. At launch, the 2007 and 2008 International
Engine of the Year, the 306bhp petrol twin-turbocharged 35i, is available. For
the record, both diesel units fall into the Band F £210 for road tax category
and both petrol units are Band G rated, at £400 per year.
All four X6 models utilise elements of BMW's much publicised and highly-rated
Efficient-Dynamics programme. Brake Energy Regeneration is standard across the
range and combines with active aerodynamics and low viscosity fluids in the
steering and transmission systems. Third-generation common-rail technology diesel-engined
cars and high-precision direct injection on the petrol models both serve to
optimise the combustion process.
In addition to BMW's well known xDrive all-wheel drive system and other handling
prog-rammes, the power of the BMW X6 is harnessed by an advanced chassis that
incorporates Dynamic Performance Control for the first time on a BMW. BMW says
that their new Dynamic Performance Control offers drivers optimum cornering
ability courtesy of a complex multi-clutch differential that, effectively, helps
drive the vehicle around a bend. This feature is fitted as standard to all X6
A conventional differential wastes power through wheel-slip during cornering.
A limited-slip differential locks-out an unloaded wheel to transfer drive to
the wheel with most grip but the locked wheel can act as a drag on performance.
However, Dynamic Performance Control improves on the traditional, performance-oriented
limited-slip differential because it allows an inside wheel to still deliver
power and provide drive, while at the same time sending more drive to the outside
wheel that has more grip. The result, combined with one of the most advanced
stability control systems available, is a vehicle that out-performs the current
benchmark BMW X5 and some sports cars in terms of dynamic capability.
In real life this technology really does work. Driven back-to-back on a test
circuit against the latest X5 considered to be a handling class-leader
for SUVs the new X6, fitted with all the standard and optional handling
packages, literally leaves it standing. The agility and control of the X6 for
such a large and heavy vehicle at high speeds is outstanding and the grip totally
On the open road, the big alloy wheels and huge wide tyres can give an unsettled
ride over poorer surfaces but in general the ride is comfortable, quiet and
with little body roll even when the X6 is hustled along. Huge mileages over
normal A and B roads, traffic conditions permitting, can be covered by this
vehicle in a short time. You can travel very quickly, very easily with no sensation
as to the true speed of the vehicle eerie, in the nicest possible way!
The result of all this technology is a unique Sports Activity Vehicle or 4x4
Coupe call it what you will, but it has great engines and an industry-leading
array of drivetrain technologies. The styling people will like or loathe; the
fact it only has four seats will be an advantage for some and a disadvantage
for others; and for many people the X6 will be a pointless exercise. However,
the fact that it is so different and so distinctive will appeal to many users.
And you can be sure that the technology under the skin of the X6 will be used
in more and more 4x4 and sports models as it unquestionably sets new standards
in handling for big and heavy machines.
Is it for you? If you're looking to find faults, then you'll have to look pretty
hard. Limited rear headroom for taller passengers, styling that's a step too
far for some people and the fact that it will upset the anti-4x4 brigade are
not really strong enough reasons to look elsewhere. On the other hand there's
much to recommend the X6, including road presence, bold and unashamed styling,
great agility for such a large vehicle, power and performance aplenty, a first
class 'command' driving position and a well equipped and premium class interior.
Now is probably a very appropriate moment to remind you that there are less
than 400 X6s left to go around for the rest of 2008. And they're going fast.
BMW X6 35d xDrive | £44,145
Maximum speed: 147mph | 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Overall test MPG: 22mpg | Power: 286bhp | Torque: 427lb ft
CO2 220g/km | VED Band F £210 | Insurance group 19