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Review: BMW X6
Driven April 2013
India’s finance ministry and this year’s budget dislike three things – diesel, SUVs and imported vehicles. The car you see here is all three. The X6 has had great road presence because of its humongous dimensions and contemporary styling. It forces you to take a second look.
What we have here is the updated version of BMW’s oddball SUV. First off, BMW doesn’t call it an SUV, preferring instead Sports Activity Coupe. And what’s new here? The kidney grille has gone back to the drawing board and returned looking a bit different. The fog lamps have been repositioned and the tail-lights are now LED. The X6 sits 10mm lower than the earlier model, reducing ground clearance to 212mm. The rest of the design stays identical to what it replaces.
Inside, too, it hasn’t seen too many changes apart from the choice of colours that you get for the leather upholstery, and the raised sports seats. There’s oodles of space in the front row but not at the rear. There’s no problem with leg- and shoulder room, but the sloping roofline robs you of headroom. If you’re taller than the average Indian, chances are good that your head will hit the roof.
In the features department, you get everything that you’d expect from a Rs 1 crore BMW. Like the iDrive multimedia system, head-up display, individual climate control on all four seats, rear seat entertainment system with DVD player and screen, the works.
The new X6 has also seen some changes that are more than skin deep. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel mill is a masterpiece. It now churns out 301bhp and 600Nm compared to the earlier 235bhp. This is what diesel engines of the future will be – great-sounding, strong low-end, punchy mid-range and an equally strong top-end. And thanks to those two blowers, there’s no hint of lag throughout the range. The same engine does duty in the 6 series, but there, it develops 309bhp and 630Nm.
The engine is coupled to an eight-speed auto ’box. The shifts are seamless and the tranny does the downshifts willingly, especially in S mode. Power is transmitted to all four wheels efficiently, ensuring you don’t lose traction even on the tightest of bends. The screen will even show you the amount of torque being sent to the wheels.
For its size, the X6 40d is pretty agile off the mark. If you keep your right foot planted, it can hit 100kph in 6.18 seconds. This engine is not only about power, it’s decently fuel-efficient as well. Out on the highway, the engine will cruise lazily to return a healthy 10.5kpl. In the city, it’ll go 6.7km for every litre of diesel. On open road, it’ll cruise effortlessly at 180kph – you start feeling the stress on the engine only past 200kph.
Another engine option in the X6 is a petrol-powered 4.4-litre V8 that develops 402 horses and 600Nm of torque (the same torque output as on the X6 40d). The V8 sounds great, even better than the in-line six-cylinder diesel that we have here. The petrol 50i is capable of pushing the X6 to a ton from standstill in a claimed 5.4 seconds. Although the petrol is quicker, as is to be expected, the fuel-efficiency of the petrol naturally doesn’t come close to that of the diesel.
Having said all this, the X6 is good only on the road. Apart from the tall stance, it doesn’t have a low-range gearbox or ride-height control or diff locks, which come handy when you decide to go off-road.
The X6 stays true to BMW’s reputation for steering feel. The wheel is just the right size and feels nice to grip. And it weighs up exactly the way you’d expect it to, delivering healthy feedback around corners. The paddle shifts are ergonomically placed behind the wheel and let you shift easily even when driving a bit enthusiastically.
Despite the height, the X6 is confident with high-speed cornering and doesn’t easily lose composure. There is a bit of roll, but acceptable by SUV standards. Under panic braking, the X6 will come to a complete halt from 80kph in just 24 metres, putting some far lighter sedans to shame.
The X6’s ride quality feels unsettled and scarred tarmac travels all the way up your spine. But this settles down well with an increase in speed. Still, even then, the X6 will not be the most comfortable car for a long-distance trip.
With its look-at-me styling and huge proportions coupled to a highly capable engine, the package doesn’t come cheap – it’s a whopping Rs 1.10 crore (on-road, Mumbai, without optional extras). But opting for even a few of the extras, such as the Active Seat package, head-up display and adaptive LED lights, will send the price upwards by nearly Rs 10 lakh.
The X6 will be your choice of machinery if you love attention on the road. It’s a great driver’s car with good steering feel, tall stance and fine dynamics. But if someone else takes the wheel and you ride in the back, the X6 will disappoint tremendously.
6cyl, 2993cc, diesel, 301bhp, 600Nm, 8A, AWD, 0-100kph – 6.18sec, 30-50kph – 1.72sec, 50-70kph – 2.12sec, 80-0kph – 24.39m, 2.74sec, 8.6kpl, Rs 1.10 crore (on-road, Mumbai)
This mild refresh should put the X6 back in the limelight. Good driving dynamics but low on space and comfort.