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Radical BMW X6 hits SA

2008-07-31 08:12

Wilmer Muller


BMW isn’t scared of design controversy.

The German carmaker has proved this over and over again. But its X6 is probably the most radical BMW product yet. Whether you like it or not, the X6 makes a bold statement and it is now in South Africa.

BMW calls the X6 a Sports Activity Coupe – yet another new car niche!

With the X6, BMW basically blends a coupe and SUV into a new vehicle concept. And voila! Bang! It’s the X6!

It is unlike anything else on the road and oozes arrogance, superiority and brashness. The X6 is indeed a daring car for BMW and its polarising identity will certainly generate debate.

With the X6, BMW targets affluent individuals who are looking for a spectacular premium vehicle. It is set to compete against the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne. However, after driving the X6 it is clear that it has upped dynamics in this segment.

The production X6 is almost unchanged from the Active-Hybrid concept car, which was shown at the 2007 Frankfurt Show. Although it shares its underpinnings and some design cues with its X5 sibling, the X6 is a distinctive vehicle and every body panel is unique.

The introduction of the X6 also sees the expansion of BMW’s X-range, which already includes the X3 and X5. An X1derivative will complete the line-up in 2010.

Unique in most aspects

In comparison to X5, the X6’s windscreen is more raked, while the front and taillights are also different. Furthermore the X6 is longer, wider and lower than an X5.

Obviously its most distinctive design feature is the arcing coupe roofline and dramatic tailgate. Also, whereas the X5 is available as a five or seven-seater, the X6 has room for only four since there are two individual seats at the rear.

For the rest of the interior, the X6 is typical BMW with the same minimalist dashboard design featuring top class fit and finish.

But X6 also has impressive engineering credentials to ensure “sheer driving pleasure”. Its twin identity certainly doesn’t impact on its driving dynamics. In fact, the X6 delivers an outstanding ride.

Although there are similarities to the X5, such as the suspension architecture, under the X6’s skin, it has some unique technology.

The X6’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system is blessed with what BMW calls “Dynamic Performance Control” (DPC), DPC basically improves traction and stability, enhancing the overall performance of xDrive. It splits torque not only between the front and rear axles, but also between the individual wheels.

In other words, if the system detects that the tyres are sliding, it will cleverly send drive to the wheels with the most grip. Impressive stuff indeed.

Typically BMW, the X6’s steering is direct and agility is part of the mix. There are tonnes of grip too, and overall body control is excellent with the X6 inspiring confidence. Overall, the X6 is a composed vehicle with admirable road-holding abilities.

Twin-turbo power

The X6 is also the first South African BMW range to only utilise twin-turbo power. Immediately available are the 3-litre petrol and diesel models, with a V8 derivative joining the line-up in April 2009.

All X6 models come with a slick six-speed automatic transmission with optimised gearshift dynamics with steering wheel paddles. It is mated to all engine derivatives and gives decent pace, refinement and fuel economy.

BMW X6 xDrive35i (In-line 6-cylinder petrol with Twin Turbo)
- Capacity: 2 979 cc
- Max output: 225 kW from 5 800-6 250 r/min
- Max torque: 400 Nm from 1 300-5 000 r/min
- 0–100 km/h: 6.7 seconds,
- Top speed: 240 km/h
- Average fuel consumption: 12.1 litres/100 km,
- C02 emissions to EU standard: 286 g/km,

BMW X6 xDrive35d (In-line 6-cylinder diesel with Variable Twin Turbo)
- Capacity: 2 993 cc
- Max output: 210 kW at 4 400 r/min
- Max torque 580 Nm at 1 750–2 250 r/min
- 0–100 km/h: 6.9 seconds,
- Top speed: 236 km/h
- Average fuel consumption: 9.0 litres/100 km,
- C02 emissions to EU standard: 237 g/km,

BMW X6 xDrive50i (V8 petrol engine with Twin Turbo)
- Capacity: 4 395 cc
- Max output: 300 kW from 5 500–6 400 r/min
- Max. torque: 600 Nm from 1 750–4 500 r/min
- 0–100 km/h: 5.4 seconds,
- Top speed: 250 km/h,
- Average fuel consumption: 13.2 litres/100 km,
- C02 emissions to EU standard: 327 g/km,


Naturally the X6 is a safe number too.

In combination with the car’s passive safety systems, occupant safety is ensured among other things by three-point inertia-reel seat belts on all seats, frontal and side airbags as well as head airbags at the side, and crash-activated headrests at the front.

Bi-xenon dual headlights including a daytime light function, fog lamps, two-stage brake lights, and runflat tyres all come as standard.

Of course there is a vast list of optional extras and for example buyers can spec their X6 with suspension and driver assistance systems such as Adaptive Drive (anti-roll and adaptive dampers), Active Steering, Head-Up Display and Adaptive Headlights.

A wide range of comfort functions and entertainment options are available too.

Out to cause a stir

With its muscular look, bulging wheel arches, low-slung side windows and the roofline tapering out to the rear, the X6 is going to cause a stir.

People are either going to love or hate it. It’s not necessarily one of the prettiest vehicles, but few SUVs will be able to beat its road presence.

Why will the X6 sell? Basically, it is 6 Series Coupe merged with an X5... So, is it an SUV that thinks it is a coupe or the other way around? Huh? Who knows!

Anyway, if you are unable to choose between a sports car or SUV, then the X6 is the right set of wheels for you. Yes, it does sound bizarre, but BMW believes there are people like that!

But even if the concept of the X6 doesn’t work for you, one has to give BMW credit for engineering a suberb vehicle.

With its distinctive design, a range of class-leading engines and a clever all-wheel-drive setup, the X6 is about to turn the premium SUV segment upside down.

Only 120 X6s will find their way to South Africa this year, since BMW says that overseas demand is just too high.

- xDrive35i: R680 000
- xDrive35d: R724 000
- xDrive50i: R845 500


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