The brawny machine that began a revolution of sorts in the SUV styling circles, the X6, is a pioneer. Doing the unthinkable by fusing sports cars’ swooping roofline to the unadulterated, raw brawn of an authentic SUV, the X6 took a sharp snipe at the traditionalists. Big, bold and beautiful, the X6, even after facing staunch criticism by the purists managed to leave an indelible mark on the history of automobile design, and went on to create a legacy for BMW ever since it first came into being in 2008.
Since its market launch, more than 150,000 of the Sport Activity Coupé were sold within approximately three years. This exceeded the original estimates for this eccentric concept. The MY 2013 version of the unorthodox machine saw BMW bring in noticeable design changes as well as some technical enhancements to the stylish car. We took the Xdrive 40d diesel-engined monster out for a day in the jungle via the pristine Mumbai Nasik highway to see what it was capable of. With more than 300 horses and 600Nm under its chiseled bonnet it sure was a thunderous contraption to be behind the wheel of. Here’s what it felt like.
BMW call the X6 the world’s first ever Sports Activity Coupé – and they have the right to the fancy name, for they, in a sense created a whole new genre with this one. The coupe shaped SUV in its MY 2013 features some clear changes in design. The headline about the changes on the 2013 X6 is some strong accentuations at front and rear and the inclusion of adaptive LEDs as a new option.
The standard fog lights are now set in matt finish surrounds in the upper area of the outer air inlets. The position of the fog lamps is now higher and they positioned more laterally to emphasize the width of the vehicle. The humongous BMW kidney grille has its bars remodeled – angled in the lower section they make the grille look more prominent. Also, the angle of the grille bars is flush with the bottom of the headlamp units, further enhancing the wide, squat stance of the car. Featuring one of the biggest kidney grilles on a BMW, the X6 reeks aggression and belligerence when viewed front on.
Based on the X5’s terrific, segment defining and defying platform, the X6 was transported from concept to production phase with little adulteration. While disproportionate from certain angles, the X6 does manage to look smashing from certain other angles.
At the back you get an upswept under cladding in the shape of a diffuser. Sure it is a faux unit, but visually it does its bit to add some more muscle to the rear end. The twin exhausts positioned at the lower edges of the massive rear bumper is another touch to enhance sportiness.
In order to match that beefy, brawny front, the design blokes at BMW added some serious mass to its behind as well. The rear boot lid is high set, the bumper is huge and the X6 boasts one of the biggest posteriors in the automotive world. This works to balance the frontal beef with an equally imposing rear end. The pronounced wheel arches, strong haunches and horizontal lines at the rear end further help to keep things well proportioned and tight.
Overall, the X6 has a high shoulder line, beefy bonnet, a prominent crease running across its waist, a sharply swooping roofline and a gargantuan boot. It’s got presence, massive presence, without any shade of doubt. Parked side by side, it can even make the X5 look meek in comparison. Personally, I like the way this car looks when viewed front on, from the front three quarters and at the rear. In profile, however, its unusual shape takes a while to sink in.
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Cabin comfort and features
Based on the X5, the X6 shares plenty of bits from its legendary elder brother. There are ample similarities between the two Goliaths. The double deck side air vents for the A/C, the center console, the small glove box with its outwards opening twin flap lid, position of the Start/Stop button and the layout of the BMW Connectdrive Gear, everything validates the connection between the two biggest members of the BMW family.
Key differences in places where you would have expected similarity include a bigger central screen operating on a more modern version of the iDrive system, a sportier, chunkier looking steering wheel with pedal shifter, and a few extra buttons on the dash. In addition to modifications made to the X5’s cabin, the X6 also features a whole plethora of new features which make it look like a more modern and sophisticated machine from inside.
As you’d expect from such a big vehicle, the front seats are amazingly comfortable. They’re wide, very well cushioned with great lumbar support and with the optional Comfort Pack would take you hundreds of miles without any fatigue. With the Comfort Pack, the sheer number of permutations and combinations you get to adjust your seat is simply mind boggling. You get 4-way lumbar adjustment, thigh support extender, seat height and angle adjuster, headrest adjustment and a few more! Hell, you have the option to recline only the upper half of the backrest as well! Thanks to the fact that the roofline forms a crest over the front seats, the front occupants get decent headroom. It slopes thereafter, reducing the available headroom for the back benchers though.
As regards storage space, the front door panels don’t have specific slots for bottles, but are wide enough to accommodate a bottle or two. You have two transversely laid out cup holders with a small coin compartment ahead of them. Both these storage spaces can be covered with a movable lid. The central armrest has twin flaps and offers a decent amount of storage space beneath. Then there is the rather small glove compartment and another small coin box between the central armrest and the iDrive unit. For the back benchers, the central armrest features two cupholders.
As regards luggage carrying capacity, the X6 can accommodate 570 litres of luggage, extendable to 1,450 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded down. The loading lip, however, at just a little less than a meter above the ground is quite high for easy loading and unloading of stuff.
As always, there is no faulting the time tested BMW build quality and amazingly well sorted ergonomics. The audio system sounds great and is capable of playing music via CDs, DVDs, Aux-in, Bluetooth or USB. Optional entertainment package for the back benchers installs a big screen at the back, replete with a remote control and video input to allow the backseat passengers have their own bit of fun.
Going towards the backseat, the space for the knees and legs doesn’t leave anything to complain about. Seats are extremely comfortable and short to medium built occupants should not have any problem with the space. The dropping roofline along with the high window sills does create a cramped feel at the rear though, and taller passengers would often find their heads rubbing with the roof.
Other features such as reading lights, coat hooks, parcel tray, push button boot-lid movement, a high mount brake light, cameras all round (option), automatic headlamps, window blinds, two zone climate control and a reasonably big sunroof complete the features list of the X6.
The X6 is quite liberally equipped. However, as always, most of the fancy stuff we journos get on the test vehicles is an optional extra which costs quite a lot of money. For a detailed list of all such items please refer to the features, specs and options list below.
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Engine and Gearbox
The X6 is available with a variety of engines, all of which are quite potent and do justice to the sporty character of the machine. Our test vehicle (Xdrive 40d) came equipped with an uprated 3.0 liter TwinPower turbo diesel engine delivering superior performance than the less powerful Xdrive 30d. The 2993cc inline-6 engine produces peak power rated at 306bhp at 4400rpm and peak torque rated at 600Nm between a very low 1500-2500 rpm.
We just mentioned 600Nm of torque. In conjunction with those 306 horses, that turning force is enough to propel this 2.3 ton monster from a standstill to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250km/h and the X6 pounces like a hound towards that mark every time you bury the pedal.
The twin-turbocharged six-cylinder diesel is a proven power plant and works excellently here as well. Not just does it make the X6 menacingly quick, but with its terrific low end grunt and that monumental torque, makes light work of keeping the mountain of metal in motion at low revs. The driveability is as good as it gets and the X6 responds to soft and part throttle with uncanny ease.
That potent power plant is mated to the new eight speed auto transmission which works fantastically well with a variety of engines. Automatic shifts are well timed and shift points vary depending on which mode (Drive or Sport) you are in. Sport mode places the shifts higher up the rev range, tightens the steering wheel and makes the X6 tauter and more ready for action. Gearshifts can be made via the selector lever on the central penal or the flappy pedals behind the steering wheel.
The new eight speed tranny is quick enough, and we didn’t experience any lag worth complaining about. Part of the transmission’s brilliance is attributed to the all-powerful engine also, which doesn’t care about the rev band its operating in and delivers a heady shove right from the bottom of the tacho.
That engine-tranny combo has enough violence in store for those willing to witness carnage. While the speed builds at an outrageous pace when you stomp the right pedal, the X6 is incredibly swift even when it’s plodding ahead lazily. Just a little feathering of the throttle, and you’d see it shooting past the triple digit mark.
We experienced the lethal power of this engine on the 640d Gran Coupe for the first time, and it managed to leave us absolutely amazed. While not as atrociously sadistic on the X6 as the 640d, thanks to the latter’s heavier weight, the engine and transmission combo manages to create a new benchmark for SUV performance in our mind, wiping clean the memories of the X5 30d, which itself is quite a formidable machine to match as regards performance.
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Ride and handling
When we drove the ageing X5 a few months back, the big SUV absolutely blew our mind by delivering handling and performance capable of putting to shame some premium sedans with sporty pretensions. The X6 in the 40d guise had more power, more torque, and BMW’s Dynamic Performance Control trick under its hood to lend it a clear advantage. So did it outdo the X5 as regards handling as well, after creating a new benchmark in a straight line?
Well, hard as me may try but we simply cannot get the tactile old worldly feel of the X5’s hydraulic steering off our mind. The communicative helm of the X5, in our humble opinion still remains to be beaten as regards steering feel and feedback on an SUV. Even while losing grip from its prodigious wheels and tyres, the X5 lets you enjoy the controlled slide in a reassuring manner. You can just not go wrong with that sort of a talkative wheel in your hand.
The X6, on the other hand offers more grip, holds the line better and has the coolest trick in its bag to make sure it never puts forth a wrong foot. The Dynamic Performance Control technology on the X6 is capable of splitting the drive to the rear wheels on the move continuously gauging the level of grips. Around a corner, the system delivers more power to the loaded outer rear wheel for enhanced traction, equipping the machine with better grip and control.
The coolest bit about the tech is that you can see it working in real time on the central screen, where the power sent to the wheels is shown via a live animation depicting the chassis and wheels of the vehicle. The entire system works in conjunction with the BMW xDrive AWD system which does the job of juggling power between the front and rear axles, based on traction analysis.
There is no two ways about the fact that we were blown by the body control, grip and reassurance exhibited by the X6. There’s loads and loads of grip at hand, thanks to those monstrous 20 inch, wheels shod with 275 / 40 section tyres up front and 315 / 35 rubber at the rear.
In addition to all that gluey rubber and a stiff suspension with its laser sharp focus on handling, the X6 can also be ordered with optional chassis control system Adaptive Drive which further enhances driving dynamics by adjusting damping in line with the road surface.
Also available as an option is Active Steering which automatically adjusts the effect of the steering angle to your driving speed and offers you ideal assistance in all driving situations. Additionally, if the BMW X6 starts rolling when cornering or braking, Active Steering automatically balances this out by selective counter-steering and thus actively contributes to assertive handling.
Now all that focus on uncompromised handling for a nigh 2.5 ton SUV has taken its toll on the ride quality. While not entirely thrashy, the ride quality of the X6 is most definitely way stiffer than ideal for being called comfortable. The effect is more pronounced at slower speeds and over sharper undulations. Things improve marginally with a rise in speed though, and the X6 takes wavy undulations at speed in its stride with good ability. Sharper, pronounced edges are still a problem though. Even with all its ability to smash challenging corners defying the laws of physics, the X6 is not the car you would want to lug your family interstate. It’s meant for the young at heart who like the presence of SUVs with the associated wobbliness cut out. If the softness of the suspension gets sacrificed in the bargain, so be it.
There’s another angle to the X6’s underpinnings which you should be aware of. Even with its 212mm of ground clearance, xDrive AWD and Dynamic Performance Control, it’s not a vehicle which is meant to tackle the adversities thrown by low traction off road trails. The entire setup is biased for superior on-road performance and BMW wouldn’t be too pleased seeing you take the X6 to the wilderness. It’s shod with high performance road tyres which are quite useless in slushy conditions. You’d be taking it off the beaten trail on wet slippery terrains at your own peril.
The X6, unlike most other BMWs comes equipped with a space saver spare, so you have something more than the Run Flat technology to rely on in case of a tyre gone kaput.
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Even in the 320d guise the X6 is substantially more expensive than the corresponding X5 variant. The xDrive 40D variant is even more expensive and stands as one of the most expensive SUVs in the market in its class. It has less space inside as compared to the X5 and isn’t quite as good off the road either.
On the flip side, the X6 is incomparably more stylish, modern and brawnier looking than its ageing elder brother. It packs in more modern technology, more punch and reasonably better piece of kit. But honestly, if we try to argue hard in favor of the X6 over the X5, we would probably have crossed the boundaries of rationality.
The X6 is not meant to make practical sense. It doesn’t target the man who thinks obvious. It’s an oddball concept and it wears its outlandishness on its sleeve. The X6 is not meant to ship out in massive volumes. It’s expensive, it’s crazy and it’s beyond your everyday sensibilities. You’ll not find it on every traffic light, and that exactly is its sole point. It’s an exclusive machine, only for the people who are as crazy, as wild and as laterally oriented in their thought process as the X6 itself. With all its flair, distinction and extremity of concept, the X6 is one dashing machine which you more likely than not buy if you don’t mind putting form over function sometimes. If that’s the case, the X6 is one solid chunk of debonair muscle for you.
Price as tested: Rs 82 lakh ex-showroom
|Engine Type||BMW TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder engine|
|Max Power||306 bhp|
|Max Torque||600 Nm @ 1500 RPM|
|Mileage (ARAI)||13.33 kmpl|
|Transmission Type||8-speed Automatic|
|Suspension Front||Double-joint spring strut front axle|
|Suspension Rear||multi-link rear axle|
|Front Brake Type||Disc|
|Rear Brake Type||Disc|
Next Page for Features Illustrated with Images>>>
Features illustrated with Images:
Engine Start/Stop button
Outwards opening double flap glovebox
Button to open the glovebox
Glovebox in closed position
Idrive layout on the floating panel.
Cupholders ahead of the iDrive controls. Notice the boot release, hill descent control. parking sensors off, traction control off and camera buttons below the center console.
Double deck side A/C vents
All of the above bits are identical to the interior of the x5
The mind-boggling adjustment options for the Comfort Pack seats
Option top view camera system
What’s a BMW without those Corona Rings
Rear central armrest houses two cupholders
60:40 split backseats can be dropped down to enhance loading capacity
Rear window mounted stop lamp.
The upper half of the backrest is adjustable separately. Note the change in angle
Rear door panels dont have a dedicated slot for bottles – you can still manage to shove on in though.
Reading lights for rear passengers.
Enetertainment unit for the back-benchers, replete with a remote.
Extended thigh support for the Comfort Pack seats.
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