Motoring: Big and able - BMW X6 xDrive30d M Sport
16:13 03 February 2016
It may be a niche vehicle, but the BMW X6 puts the sport into SUV, says Press Association motoring editor Matt Joy
Back in 2008, BMW dished up a spin on the SUV template by creating a coupé-like 4x4 that handled even more like a car than the bigger X5. It even coined a new phrase for it – the Sports Activity Vehicle. The name might not have caught on but the X6 did, and it’s back in second-generation form.
The ludicrous X6 M came first but it’s the X6 30d that will take up the vast majority of the sales action. The 3.0-litre diesel unit now gets a more sophisticated eight-speed automatic transmission, while on the inside it receives the same upgraded cabin as its bigger X5 stablemate.
Looks and image
It’s unlikely you’ll lack an opinion about the X6’s appearance, especially in the more obvious M Sport guise. It has the coupé-like roofline combined with the chunky lower half, and with a relatively-slim glazed area, imposing front grille and optional 20in alloy wheels you are guaranteed to get noticed. Mind you, there are few wallflowers in this segment of the market and cars like the X6 clearly appeal to the lucky few who have it and are prepared to flaunt it.
Space and practicality
Although related to the X5, the X6 is designed to be less practical than its big brother in the name of style and driving experience. Even so, the space on offer is more than sufficient for family use. Up front you get the desirable high driving position with the dashboard wrapped cosily around you, while in the rear there’s room for three. Taller adults may find headroom a little lacking thanks to that curvaceous roof, but the boot is only 70 litres smaller than an X5’s, at 580 litres.
Behind the wheel
The X6 delivers the same kind of curious pleasure you get from most of its rivals in this sector – the sensation of driving something quite tall and heavy that is somehow able to devour back roads with ease and worry hot-hatch drivers with its speed.
This might be the lowly entry-level diesel model, but it still offers up 255bhp and 413lb.ft of torque, giving rapid acceleration (0-62mph in 6.7 seconds) with ease. The X6 also responds with impressive alacrity; M Sport means the adaptive Sports suspension which, although firmer, brings another level of ability.
The flipside is that the X6 is a little less comfortable than the X5, although it’s still perfectly capable of despatching long journeys with ease. If you like the idea of a car this big being so able, it’s a small sacrifice worth making.
Value for money
This isn’t a cheap car of course, but you get the specification to show for it. SE models get 19in alloy wheels, leather seats, a choice of wood or aluminium trim, DAB radio and satellite navigation as standard. The M Sport model adds the sport suspension, gloss-wood trim, electrically-adjustable sports front seats and a sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles. The other good thing is economy; tread carefully and you could get 47mpg.
Who would buy one?
The X6 serves quite a particular market. There are more practical cars, not least from BMW, and sports cars that serve up bigger thrills. But the X6 does satisfy the dual roles of sports car and practical car all in one, and should you be in position to spend upwards of £50,000 on such a beast, it will most likely make you very happy indeed. Whether you’re a lone wolf or a family person, the X6 can do pretty much all of it.
Price: BMW X6 xDrive30d M Sport, £56,315
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel unit producing 255bhp and 413lb/ft of torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic gearbox driving all four wheels
Performance: Top speed 143mph, 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds
Economy: 47.1 mpg combined
Emissions: 159g/km of CO2