£56,515 - £67,875 Price range
29 - 47 MPG
Coupe looks make the BMW X6 a sportier alternative to the BMW X5 – putting it into direct competition with the surprisingly agile Porsche Cayenne and the performance-orientated Range Rover Sport SVR. Peel away the body and you’ll find the same chassis that underpins the X5.
Its sporty image means there’s no seven-seater option (which you do get in the X5), but it does now come as a five-seater – the previous model had two rear seats split by a large centre console. There’s still less rear headroom than you’ll find in the X5 thanks to the sloping roofline, but a family of four should find the X6 perfectly capable and its high-quality design is almost identical to the BMW X5’s.
Most people who buy an X6 will choose a diesel engine and it’s easy to see why – the excellent X6 40d can fire the car from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds, while returning fuel economy of more than 45mpg. That’s impressive for such a heavy, un-aerodynamic SUV. The 30d is even more frugal and should prove quick enough for most people’s needs.
If performance is a priority then the new X6M model is worth a look. Power from the turbocharged V8 has been boosted by 17hp (from the old model) to 567hp and torque’s up by 52lb ft to 553b ft in total. Combine those two figures with grippy four-wheel drive and the resulting acceleration is quicker than a BMW M5, 0-62mph takes 4.2 seconds – 0.1 of a second quicker than the super saloon.
The X6M is the most road-biased model in the range – it has massive tyres and uprated brakes to help it cope with the huge performance. In truth, all BMW X6s feel planted in corners and have a four-wheel-drive system that has been setup to provide excellent on-road performance rather than off-road grip.
Anyone who has sat in an X5 will find the X6’s cabin eerily familiar. Save for a gorgeous three spoke steering wheel with gearshift paddles, and leather-trimmed knee pads for the two up-front, the X6 is almost a carbon-copy of BMW’s other big SUV.
That is no bad thing, mind. While it may take more than a test drive for you to learn your way around – in particular to figure out the iDrive system – the cabin is beautifully put together. If you’re sat in the front the miles will disappear in complete comfort. Things are not so good in the back; thanks to that coupe-esque roof, headroom suffers a little. It’s not all bad, though. There is easily room for three across the rear bench, and although the 580-litre boot can’t quite match the space on offer in the X5, it is still pretty massive.
In terms of a driving experience, the X6 is as you’d expect a BMW to feel. Not only does it offer enormous reserves of grip, but an almost unerring level of poise, particularly for a car weighing comfortably over two tonnes. It’ll be as happy weaving its way around a mountain pass as it would feel cruising along a motorway. The handling will be even better if you can afford to specify the Dynamic Package, which stiffens up the suspension and lowers the car. The X6 is easily one of the finest handling SUVs.
The one thing to bear in mind is that due to its sporty intentions, the X6 has a firm ride – unacceptably so for some. One tester describes the X6 as “thumping and jiggling continually over scarred asphalt” – hardly ideal for a car which is ultimately designed with the intention of transporting people in comfort. The X6M is the worst offender for this.
Another point to bear in mind is that the X6 is a very wide car – at a smidge under two metres it is 50mm broader than even the X5 – so a sensible town car it is not.
The X6 offers a choice of five different engines – two petrol and three diesel. All five receive praise for their smoothness, power, and – in the case of the diesels at least – excellent fuel economy. They are all teamed up to a “superb” eight-speed automatic gearbox, which can be controlled manually via the paddles on the steering wheel.
The entry level X6 is equipped with BMW’s hugely popular 3.0-litre turbo-diesel. Named the xDrive30d, in this application it produces 258hp, and delivers a highly impressive 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Thanks to the use of stop-start technology and regenerative braking, it’ll also return a claimed 47.1mpg, while CO2 emissions of 157g/km keep company car costs down relative to rivals.
Sitting in the middle of the diesel range is the X6 40d, which has 313hp, can return 45.6mpg, and barrages its way from 0-62mph in a thoroughly respectable 5.8 seconds.
The most potent diesel is something of a monster. The M50d’s 3.0-litre engine features three turbos, which not only enables it to produce 381hp, but thumping torque figures too. The 0-62mph sprint takes only 5.2 seconds, while top speed is a limited 155mph. Despite this almost frightening turn of speed, it’ll still return 42.8mpg, whilst testers compliment its smoothness.
The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol fitted to the 50i shares quite a lot in common with the unit in the M5, in this application it offers up a marginally tamer 450hp and 479lb-ft of torque. A 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds sounds very impressive, but you’d have to be seriously focused on performance figures to ignore the fact that the similarly quick M50d is a full 13.8mpg more economical.
The 50i used to be the quickest petrol in the range, but that title now goes to the unhinged X6M. It gets from 0-62mph in a scarcely believable 4.2 seconds and feels as at home in the corners as it does on the straights – making it the car the new Range Rover Sport SVR has to beat. The only downside is the stiff suspension that makes it less comfortable than other (already stiff-riding) X6 models.
This is a seriously quick car. The experts reckon the 50i has enough power (402bhp) to give most low-slung sports cars a run for their money. The direct-injection, 4.4 litre, twin-turbo V8 will get this X6 to an electronically limited 155mph, hitting 60 in 5.4secs on its way there. For an SUV, those figures are ridiculous. On the other hand, you will be spending a not insignificant amount of time at the pumps, depending on your driving style.
Admittedly though, few people in the world buy a fast car to drive slowly, but if you push this X6 to the limits of what it can do you’ll be lucky to hit 22mpg (Ouch). All in all then, the experts tend to appreciate, rather than love this engine. Buy it if you can afford it, if not, any of the other X6 variants will more than do as a compromise.
Some reviews called the X6 50i pointless, until the X6M turned up and almost redefined the word. The M is not a beloved car to automotive critics. All of them praise its abilities and have no end of admiration for what it can do but they all also see it as the definition for status symbol motoring.
A vast, overpriced, not particularly good-looking SUV that you will be lucky to hit 20mpg in and will be forced to pay the top company car tax band price. Of course, if money is no object, then the 4.7secs 0-60 time and the top speed of 155mph will appeal no end.
However, in all seriousness, you would be better off saving your money and going for the 50i if you want speedy SUV motoring.
When new, this was the range-topping diesel option, so obviously it packs a bit of a punch. Admittedly, it is not as quick as the 50i (the petrol which you can still buy new) but a 0-62mph time of 6.9secs and a top speed of 147mph are nothing to feel sad about.
For an SUV, it is also surprisingly economical, 34mpg is the official figure and, unlike its petrol cousin, it avoids the highest company car tax band by producing 220g/km of CO2. So, if you’re in the market for an X6, don’t forget to look at a second-hand 35d, it could be worth it.
Although the X6 has not yet been tested by Euro NCAP, the experts believe that it would fare very well in the event of an accident.
There is the usual plethora of odds and ends designed to keep you as safe as possible. In addition to traction and stability control systems, the X6 features lane departure warning, optional LED headlights and BMW Assist, which can automatically make an SOS call in case of a serious crash.
Well, it’s a premium SUV, so it certainly isn’t cheap. The entry-level X6 will set you back a good 45 grand, and it isn’t difficult to spend an extra £5,000-10,000 on optional extras.
Still, that is pretty much the case with the more practical X5, and purchase prices are similar, too. When it comes to selling, the rarity value of the X6 means that it holds its value quite strongly, and the ultra efficient diesels mean that the cost of running one on a daily basis isn’t too difficult to stomach.
Of course, the styling is certainly the most divisive feature of the BMW X6. We appreciate that looks are a subjective thing, but in profile it looks like a regular saloon car stretched upwards with photo editing software, and from any other angle it looks like someone has rolled their X5.
Yes, the X6 may be a very good car technically, but is it really worth sacrificing the practicality of the X5, which in itself is pretty darn good? It seems the experts are not sure. However, regardless of whether you buy the X5 or the X6, you will undoubtedly have a capable set of wheels.