The BMW X6 is now in its third generation, which is almost unbelievable. That’s a long time for a very good product line to be represented in adjectives ranging from ‘niche’ to ‘impractical,’ none of which this is any longer.
But, in a sense, the X6’s popularity has demanded a pound of flesh. We recently had the good fortune of driving a slew of imitators from similarly renowned brands, and each of them was astounded by their abilities. So, history aside, this latest X6 must be exceptional to maintain its place as the go-to coupe-SUV.
BMW X6 Styling
The X6 has grown 26mm taller, 15mm wider, and 6mm lower in the G06 generation. When you add in the 44mm wider front track, the X6 commands a lot of focus. The exaggerated grille, as in any modern BMW, is the distinguishing feature of the X6’s profile. The tapering edges and matte chrome decoration on the X6 grille don’t seem to sit right with the crisply-cut laser LED lamps and chunky bonnet, which we quickly reconciled with the similarly big but simplified grille on the current X5. The X6 is also available with a loud grille illumination option.
Aside from that, the X6 is a stylish vehicle. The big honeycomb air dams in gloss black add a lot of sporty flair. These are exclusive to the M Sport model, but the xLine edition offers a much more refined appearance. However, once you get over the divisive front end, BMW’s experience in this bodystyle becomes clear. The raked windscreen and the way the roofline stops right at the car’s end are almost unmistakably X6, and it’s easily one of the best-proportioned examples of the style anywhere. With the distinct big L-shaped tail lamps, the puckered-in bootlid, and the hefty detailing to this M-Sport version’s bumpers, the discreet surfacing around the frame blends very well into the high-set rear end, probably the X6’s best angle. Other minor but powerful aspects in which the X6 keeps your interest are the 20-inch M Sport alloys with blue callipers and the flics to the wheel-wells.
BMW X6 Interiors, Space And Features
The wheelbase of the current X6 has increased by 42mm and is now the same as the X5. In particular, the coupe’s broader rear track has added 17mm to rear shoulder space, while front shoulder room remains unchanged from the X5. As a result, you’re in a room that isn’t too hampered by the less-than-ideal form. We recommend opting for the available front comfort seats, which provide a great deal of flexibility, including flexible lumbar support and side bolstering. The rear seats, on the other hand, should have been a little better; the cushioning at the base of the seatback will dig into your lower back, and although there is ample protection, they sit a little too low for larger passengers to spread out completely. Only the shortest rear passengers will be cramped for headroom, including the lowered roof and traditional panoramic sunroof.
The updated X6’s dashboard is nearly identical to that of the X5. However, given that everything from the recent 2 Series Gran Coupe to the M8 now has the same general interior style, a little more differentiation would have been welcome. Apart from the nitpick, this also suggests that BMW has achieved the ideal combination between ergonomics and visibility. This room does not seem as welcoming as other competitors, but every panel and switch, including those in the foot wheel that you may not hit very much, feels just as soft and comfortable as you would expect at this price point. BMW’s BMW Individual programme offers a full variety of trim and material options for the X6, so choosing a combination that fits you won’t be challenging. The M-badged steering wheel and aluminium pedals are exclusive to the M Sport.
The 12.3-inch iDrive infotainment system is as seamless as ever, with no particular learning curve to overcome (still no Android Auto though). The similarly shaped buttons on the centre console around the gear-lever should have been put better for smoother visibility on the move, as we observed with the X5. However, the built-in redundancies provided by the rotary controller and touchscreen come in handy here. The 12.3-inch optical instrumentation, like the X5, isn’t the most legible, with inverted dials, which should provide detail more intuitively.
BMW X6 Engine And Efficiency
When you get into the driver’s seat of the X6, everything falls into place effortlessly, as it does in most BMWs. You aren’t too far up, and visibility is sufficient to quickly manoeuvre this large vehicle through traffic. In India, the X6 is available with a single petrol engine, the 3.0-litre inline-six B58 twin-turbo with 340PS at 5,500-6,500rpm and 450 Nm at 1500-5200rpm.
We were immediately impressed by its quick and precise responses to even the smallest throttle inputs, making it one of the most accomplished of its kind. When you wring it out, the motor responds with an even distribution of torque from its low 800 rpm idle to the redline. And as the switchover to the larger turbo occurs at about 3,000 rpm, there are no boring patches. In reality, there’s a fun surge here, and a ferocious six-cylinder growl fills the cockpit, however chemically amplified it might be. The X6’s 0 to 100 kmph time was 5.9 seconds, which was comparable to the electrically boosted GLE 53 AMG and the smaller and lighter GLE 43 AMG. We just found the throttle pedal to be a little too responsive in the most hardcore sport plus mode, but you’re unlikely to choose this mode anywhere other than on your favourite stretch of twisties, where this alertness would be welcome.
The BMW-tuned 8-speed ZF gearbox isn’t quite as intuitive in Comfort mode, which is a slight disappointment. The shifts themselves are crisp, but the unit seems to be hesitant to downshift when a short burst of grunt is needed. However, if left to its own devices, it blends in almost as easily as every other context. We recommend quitting the drivetrain in Sport to get around this. This seems to be the perfect combination between alertness and manoeuvrability, and the machine has returned to its sharp reactions. In reality, in Sport Plus mode, the gearbox can make aggressive changes with a noticeable blip in the throttle, evoking memories of much more powerful M cars. Another appealing feature is the way the gearbox engine brakes while stopping or driving down a hill, with precisely paced and tidy downshifts.
BMW X6 Ride And Handling
The X6 has advanced in the footsteps of the X5, which now draws a much lighter line dynamically. When all is turned down to the lowest setting, there is a little too much lateral body movement when changing directions. However, choose either of the Sport modes, and the X6 adopts a more agile demeanour. The X6’s 2.1-tonne curb weight is still visible, and if you value it with calibrated inputs, it treats corners with a good fluidity. Of course, it won’t become a vehicle to hurl through corners with impunity, but due to the adjustable M-tuned suspension on this edition, it won’t tie itself up in knots if you do. The rear-biased all-wheel-drive mechanism adds to the sense of stability, transferring torque to the front axle almost seamlessly in such circumstances. We believe the optional rear-wheel steer mechanism would make it noticeably more agile.
The steering feel is the only difference in this experience. It’s a little too light and hazy for a sporty car, with an awkward heft applied as you go through the modes, and it lacks accuracy. The X6’s handling of bumps, on the other hand, is truly remarkable. The majority of sharp ruts and rough surfaces that are typical in our cities and highways are easily dealt with. Just deeper potholes get in, but then they’re handled with a pliancy that’s hard to come by with these wheel and tyre sizes.
BMW X6 Safety
The X6’s protection package is, for the most part, standard. A 360-degree camera and powerful laser lights should have been mandatory, but there is a long list of safety features to begin with. So you’ve got eight airbags, a reversing assistant that can retrace the last 50 metres to your parking spot, and a slew of active safety features including tyre pressure monitoring and run-flat tyres.
BMW X6 Verdict
The BMW X6 is surprisingly fast, particularly considering its price and positioning. It’s also very convenient and, if you’re into that, makes quite a point on the lane. Despite its weight, it can be entertaining to some degree and, to its credit, is not an aggressively synthesized experience. We also hoped that, as a BMW, it would be the sharpest of all coupe-SUVs. However, if you find an X5 is a little too conservative for you and like to drive more frequently than not, the X6 is worth the modest premium it demands. The 2020 BMW X6 starts at Rs 1.15 crore on the road in Mumbai, before options.