2015 BMW X6 first drive – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: Monday, October 13, 2014

Although some engines from the previous model reappear in this version, all
have been upgraded and installed within an all-new body, which carries a
redesigned interior. The X6 now carries more equipment but weighs no more
than the outgoing model, plus it can be ordered with optional features such
as a self-parking system, night vision assistance and a traffic jam
assistant that allows the car to automatically edge along behind the vehicle
in front. And it will also seat five adults as standard, in contrast to the
previous model, whose back bench was shaped to seat four unless otherwise
specified.

BMW is currently offering four engine options with this new X6, three of them
diesel, one a petrol, with more to come, including a hugely powerful X6 M
model and a hybrid.
Tested here is the ultimate, sports-oriented diesel, badged X6 M50d. This
£66,915 machine comes with a triple turbo (you read that right) six-cylinder
engine, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the pulling power of a small
railway shunter. Yet it will return an official 42.8mpg – think 30-35 in the
real world – with emissions of 174g/km, which isn’t bad considering its
2.2-tonne bulk and overtaking potential.


The BMW X6 has a classy interior with logically arranged controls

Even more impressive is the M50d’s way with bends. The coupe-like roofline,
subtly aggressive nose and substantial wheels signal a sporting mission,
while a less obvious clue is the pair of elegant kneepads sprouting from the
centre console. These provide the driver and front passenger with additional
bracing when the X6 is performing athletic cornering manoeuvres and as it
turns out, they’re not inappropriate.

The M50d comes with so-called adaptive M Sport suspension, which firm up
considerably in the Sport mode to limit body-roll. Spend the best part of
£3000 and the X6’s resistance to body-roll can be further bolstered with the
Dynamic adaptive package, which includes active bodyroll control and a rear
axle that distributes the engine’s power to the rear wheel with the most
grip, the result being still greater agility and a resistance to lean that’s
remarkable given this car’s height. It’s a package well worth having if
you’re a keen driver, although it’s a shame that you must pay more; this
sporting X6 should really have it as standard.

With it fitted, the X6 produces briskly fluent progress through a succession
of twists, your enjoyment stemming as much from the BMW’s poise as the
unlikeliness of a car this big displaying such balletic composure. The
accuracy of the rather weighty steering helps, although you won’t feel much
of the topography beneath via its unnecessarily fat rim.

If the M50d’s handling is fluent, the ride proves less so, its 20-inch wheels
jolting noticeably over sharper bumps. On Britain’s battered roads it’s
likely to turn turbulent at times. That’s a contrast to the luxuriantly
calming ambience of the X6’s interior, which proves extraordinarily quiet at
speed. You’ll hear the diesel when you work it hard – although the sound is
far from unpleasant – and there’s a whisper of wind noise around the front
doors, but on the smooth roads of the US test route, the car was often
library-quiet.


It might use a diesel engine, but the X6 M50d sounds good when you
accelerate

It’s also very classy, the aura of subtle luxury heightened by the pleasing
sweep of the well-ordered dashboard, the finely crafted wood and aluminium
décor and a very readable infotainment screen.

Space in the rear is unexpectedly generous given the X6’s coupe-like roofline,
although it’s disappointing to discover limited foot-room, the front seats
too bulky to allow your shoes to snuggle beneath them. But that back seat
will seat three, and boot space is pretty generous seats up or folded down –
there’s a vein of practicality running through this X6, despite its sporty
ambitions.

The essential recipe for this sporting off-roader remains unchanged, though.
It’s big, it’s ostentatious, it’s fast and it’s a lot more agile than it
looks. It’s also well finished, and useful. For the moment, this is BMW’s
ultimate four-wheel drive X model. Get ready, though, for the still bigger
X7 in 2016.

THE FACTS

BMW X6 M50d

Tested: 2993cc six cylinder turbodiesel, eight-speed automatic gearbox,
four-wheel drive

Price/on sale: £51,145-£66,915

Power/torque: 381bhp @ 4000rpm/546lb ft @ 2000rpm

Top Speed: 155mph

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 5.2sec

Fuel economy: 42.8mpg EU Combined

CO2 emissions: 174g/km

VED band: H (£290 for first year, £205 thereafter)

Verdict: Combines excellent performance with impressive handling, plus
it’s very civilised and more practical than it looks. Styling too brash for
some, though.

Telegraph rating: Four stars out of five

THE RIVALS

Range
Rover Sport
SDV6 HSE
, priced from £61,250

Well short of the BMW’s grunt, and the far pricier V8 diesel also falls short,
but its style will be more appealing to many.

Porsche Cayenne
V8 S Diesel
, priced from £42,990

More cylinders than the BMW, if slightly less power, the Cayenne is similarly
good to to drive, more practical and much cheaper.

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