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BMW X6 XDrive 50i

autos Updated: Jan 08, 2013 18:26 IST

Autocar India
Highlight Story

The X6 costs Rs 1

There’s a lot more substance under this X6 than its unusual looks would suggest. It shares its platform with the X5, which is not a bad place to start. It’s a more driver-focused version, one that looks sportier than a full-fledged SUV and it is in this blurring of lines that the X6’s appeal lies.


Imported into India directly from BMW’s Spartanburg plant in the US of A, the X6 shares a lot of its interiors, several of its dimensions and a few mechanical bits with the X5. The wheelbase at 2933mm is the same as the X5’s as is the front track. The rear track, however, is far wider than the X5’s partly because of the new rear differential and partly because of those humongous 315/35 R20 rear tyres.

Although it is only 55mm lower than the X5 at its highest point, the combination of the sloping roofline and shallower side glazing makes the X6 look incredibly imposing, even intimidating. The steeply raked window line further accentuates the car’s deep body sides and dramatically swollen wheel arches. It’s a design that turns heads, and here, it wins a very crucial victory. The Porsche Cayenne has certainly been toppled by the X6 for visual drama.

Interior

You would expect a lot of space inside but you’ll be disappointed. The X6 is a pure four-seater and rear accommodation – given the slope of the roofline – is not impressive. BMW has done what it can; there’s plenty of shoulder room, and the cabin roof is contoured to allow as much headroom as possible. Legroom is perfectly acceptable, but there’s no getting away from the fact that anyone of above-average height will probably feel cramped, especially given the X6’s high waistline.


Up front, space is fantastic though. There’s enough headroom, legroom and width to make finding a comfortable position on the snug seats easy. The building blocks of the interior are basically the same as the X5, including the entire dashboard, front centre console and door trims. The cabin is a fine place to be in, thanks to its high-quality construction and well thought-out design. If we could find fault with it, it would be that it looks too much like any other BMW cabin.


Oh, and the rearward visibility through that small rear windshield is pathetic. Reversing and parking can be a nightmare in the confines of the city. You do get parking sensors, but a reverse camera is sorely missed. It is an expensive option though. There’s surprisingly little wind and tyre noise considering the continental width of the tyres.

Performance & Economy

Under the skin, the X6 is powered by the same direct-injection, 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 that powers the 750Li. It is hardly short of grunt with 407bhp and a huge 61kgm of torque from 1750rpm. It drives BMW’s excellent six-speed auto, which has the ability to ‘lock-up’ and behave more like a manual transmission, eliminating the characteristic slushy feel of a conventional auto ’box. Sending power to all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the X6 also debuts BMW’s new rear differential — the Dynamic Performance Control. It makes a huge difference to the character of the car, but more on that later.


Central to the X6’s appeal is the engine. With a diesel-like bottom-end torque that feels more locomotive than automobile, the engine is never short on grunt. The tremendous thrust that this engine musters so instantaneously is so addictive that you have to make a conscious effort to stay at prudent speeds. 0-100kph is dispatched in a scarcely believable six seconds flat and it will cross 200kph in under 25 seconds.


Keep your foot down and it will close in on its 250kph (limited) top speed with the ferocity of a Great White Shark, all the while covering ground at an incredible pace. The gearbox is quick and very obedient, downshifting almost every time we asked it to. The X6’s party trick is its exhaust system. In the 750Li this engine has to be restrained, but in the sporty X6 it can afford to be more vocal. It idles with a distant hint of an American V8, sounds like a hairy-chested gorilla at part-throttle, and hones in on a refined howl as it closes in on 6700rpm. It’s never ‘public-nuisance’ loud, but its vocal range makes driving through tunnels a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Part of the reason you enjoy the engine’s soundtrack is because the cabin is well insulated from unwanted noise.As expected, fuel efficiency is dismal. With a high kerb weight and a huge engine, this car feels like it can empty a petrol pump if you drive by too fast. For the record, we got 3.3kpl in the city and 5.1kpl on the highway. So, despite the 85-litre fuel tank, you’ll be visiting fuel pumps quite often too. You can take consolation in the fact that the fuel is getting used to provide some serious fun.

Ride & Handling

You expect the 20-inch wheels and the run-flat tyres to give your kidneys a hard time over anything less-than-perfect tarmac. But happily this is not the case. Yes, the ride is firm and thumps over sharp bumps, but it doesn’t get as uncomfortable as you would expect. Of course, it’s nowhere near the cosseting you get in a Mercedes-Benz M-class.


There aren’t many tall, 4WD cars weighing as much as 2,190kg that feel as agile as the X6. The X6’s optional active steering (it increases assistance and speeds up the rack at low speeds, while reducing assistance and applied lock at higher speeds) is accurate and has fantastic feel. In ‘Sport’ mode, the adaptive drive system swivels the anti-roll bars and adjusts damper rates, so there’s almost no body roll and keeps the X6 supremely stable through corners. You can throw the X6 through corners, the massive 315 rear tyres claw into the tarmac, the xDrive and the new differential sorting out any mid-corner traction issues you might have. It’s a BMW after all.

Verdict

The X6 costs Rs 1.09 crore. At this price and for this kind of car, desirability, sex appeal and performance are everything. Here the X6 excels. It can outrun most sports cars, stand out of the crowd in most parking lots, and has the added bonus of its willingness to be taken by the scruff of its neck and driven hard. It’s a sports car on stilts. Yes, the ride could have been better, it could have been more spacious, lighter and more frugal. If you need the practicality of an SUV, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a sports car and an SUV, then here’s both.


Technical Specs

Fact File

What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) Rs 1.09 crore
Warranty 24 months / Unlimited
Engine
Fuel Petrol
Installation Front, longitudinal
Bore/stroke 89.0/88.3mm
Compression ratio 10.0:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl, DOHC per bank
Power 407bhp at 5500-6400rpm
Torque 61kgm at 1750-4400rpm
Power to weight 185.84bhp per tonne
Transmission
Gearbox 6-speed auto
Dimensions
Length 4877mm
Width 1983mm
Height 1699mm
Ground clearance 212mm
Chassis & Body
Weight 2190kg
Tyres 275/40 R20 (f), 315/35 R20 (r),
Suspension
Front Independent, double wishbones, coil springs anti-roll bar
Rear Independent, multi-link, anti-roll bar
Steering
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Hydraulic
Brakes
Front 385mm vented discs
Rear 385mm vented discs
Economy
City 3.3 kpl
Highway 5.1 kpl
Tank size 85 litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol 4.4 litre
Diesel 3.0 litre