2020 BMW X6 road test review
It's almost surreal to think that the BMW X6 is now in its third generation. That's quite a long way into a very successful model line's existence for it to still be described in adjectives that range from anywhere between 'niche' to 'impractical', neither of which this is anymore.
But the X6's success has come asking for its pound of flesh, so to speak. We have been lucky enough to drive a whole crop of imitators from equally revered brands recently, and each one of them astonished with their ability. So history aside, this new X6 needs to be very good for it to hold its place as the go-to coupe-SUV.
BMW X6 Styling
This G06 generation of the X6 has grown 26mm longer, 15mm wider and 6mm lower. Combine this with the 44mm wider front track and the X6 is not left wanting of attention. As with any new BMW, the defining element of the X6's face is the oversized grille. We quite easily reconciled with the equally large but simpler grille on the new X5, but the tapering edges and matte chrome detailing to the one in the X6 seem to not quite sit right with the crisply-cut laser LED lamps and chunky bonnet. The X6 can also be optioned with the shouty grille illumination.
Beyond this, the X6 is a smart-looking thing. The large, gloss black honeycomb air dams add a good deal of sporting intent. These are unique to the M Sport variant but you can choose a slightly more sedate look with the xLine version. But as soon as you get past the contentious front end, BMW's expertise with this bodystyle is quite apparent. The raked windscreen and the way the roofline ends right at the end of the car is almost an X6 signature and makes it easily one of the best-proportioned executions of this design anywhere. The subtle surfacing along the body melds quite nicely into the high-set rear end, possibly the X6's best angle, with the distinct wide L-shaped tail lamps, the puckered-in bootlid and the hefty detailing to this M-Sport version's bumpers. The 20-inch M Sport alloys with the blue callipers and the flics to the wheel-wells are some other small but effective ways in which the X6 holds your attention.
BMW X6 Interiors, space and features
The new X6's wheelbase has grown by a significant 42mm and is the same as the X5. In fact, the wider rear track of the coupe has added 17mm to the rear shoulder room and front shoulder room remains the same as the X5. So you find yourself in a space that isn't too compromised by the less-practical shape. We'd suggest you pick the optional front comfort seats, these provide immense versatility including adjustable lumbar support and side bolstering. The rear seats could have been slightly better though, the cushioning at the base of the seatback can eat into your lower-back and while there is enough support, they sit a tad too low for taller occupants to stretch out fully. But despite the lowered roof and a standard panoramic sunroof, only the tallest rear passengers will be squeezed for headroom.
The new X6's dash is an almost straight lift from that of the X5. But with everything from the new 2 Series Gran Coupe to the M8 now sharing the same general interior theme, a bit more differentiation here wouldn't have gone amiss. That nitpick aside, this also means that BMW has struck the right balance between ergonomics and visibility. This space may not immediately strike you as being as inviting as some rivals, but every panel and button feels just as soft or as tactile as you would like it to be at this price point, even the ones in the foot wheel you might not touch very often. BMW is also offering a wide range of trim and material choices for the X6 through its BMW Individual program, so finding a mix that suits you won't be difficult. Specific to the M Sport is the M-badged steering wheel and aluminium pedals.
As always, the 12.3-inch iDrive infotainment is exceptionally intuitive with no real learning curve to get past(still no Android Auto though). Like we noted with the X5, the similarly sized buttons on the centre console around the gear-lever could have been placed better for easier visibility on the move. But the redundancies built-in through the rotary controller and the touchscreen help immensely here. Again like the X5, the 12.3-inch digital instrumentation isn't the most legible with its inverted dials and could dispense information more intuitively.
BMW X6 engine and efficiency
Step into the X6's driver's seat, and as with most BMWs, everything falls to hand easily. You aren't sat too far up and visibility is good enough to place this big car quite easily in traffic. The X6 comes in a single petrol engine option for India, the 3.0-litre inline-six B58 twin-turbo with 340PS at 5,500-6,500rpm and 450 Nm at 1500-5200rpm in this application.
Easily one of the most accomplished of its kind around, we were immediately impressed by its quick and precise responses to the littlest throttle inputs. Wring it out and the motor responds with an uninterrupted spread of torque right from its low 800 rpm idle to the redline. There are no dull spots anywhere, even when the switchover to the larger turbo happens at around 3,000 rpm. In fact, there's quite an entertaining surge to be felt here and an eager six-cylinder growl fills the cabin, as artificially enhanced as it may be. We tested the X6's 0 to 100 kmph time at 5.9s, on par with the electrically boosted GLE 53 AMG and the smaller and lighter GLE 43 AMG. Only in the most hardcore sport plus mode did we find the throttle pedal to be a bit too sensitive, but it's unlikely that you chose this mode anywhere other than on you favourite patch of twisties where this alertness will be welcome.
Slightly disappointingly, the BMW-tuned 8-speed ZF gearbox isn't quite so intuitive in its Comfort setting. The shifts themselves are crisp but the unit seems a bit too reluctant to downshift on a quick call for some grunt. But left to its devices, it melds into the background as well as anywhere else. To go around this, we'd suggest leaving the drivetrain in Sport. This seems to bring the best balance between alertness and driveability, and the unit is back to its sharp reactions here. In fact in the Sport Plus mode, the gearbox will fire off shifts with some aggression and a noticeable blip in the throttle, quite reminiscent of far more potent M cars. Another likeable trait is how the gearbox engine brakes while braking or down a slope, with perfectly timed and clean downshifts.
BMW X6 Ride and Handling
With the X5 now drawing a much softer line dynamically, the X6 has followed suit to an extent. Turn everything down to the comfort setting and there is a bit too much lateral body movement during direction changes. But reach for any of the Sport modes and the X6 takes on a reasonably agile demeanour. Its 2.1-tonne kerb weight is always apparent though, and if you respect that with measured inputs, there is a nice fluidity in the way the X6 handles corners. It won't become a car to hurl into bends with abandon of course, but it also won't tie itself into knots if you do thanks to the adaptive M-tuned suspension on this version. The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system adds a further sense of security, with quite a seamless transfer of torque to the front axle in such situations. The optional rear-wheel steer system should make it noticeably nimbler we think.
The only discrepancy to this experience is the steering feel. It's a bit too light and vague for what is billed as a sporty car, with an unnatural heft being added as you go up the modes and doesn't bring much precision. Conversely, the way the X6 handles bumps is deeply impressive. Most sharp ruts and uneven surfaces so common on our cities and highways are dealt with ease generally. Only deeper potholes filter through, but even these are tackled with a pliancy difficult to find on anything with these wheel and tyre sizes.
BMW X6 Safety
The X6's safety proposition is par for course, largely. The potent laser lighting and a 360-degree camera should have ideally been standard fit, but there is a long list of safety features, to begin with. So you have eight airbags, the reversing assistant that'll retrace the last 50m to your parking spot, and the usual crop of active safety systems including TPMS and run-flat tyres.
BMW X6 Verdict
The BMW X6 is pleasingly fast, more than its price and positioning suggest. It's also supremely comfortable and makes quite a statement on the road if that is your kind of thing. It can be engaging to an extent despite its weight, and to its credit, not be an overtly synthesized experience. But this being a BMW, we also hoped it would be the sharpest of all coupe-SUVs. Having said that, if you think an X5 may be a bit too straight-laced for you and you like taking the wheel more often than not, the X6 deserves the slight premium it demands. Prices for the 2020 X6 start at Rs 1.15 crore on-road Mumbai, before options.
BMW X6 real-world performance and efficiency
|Type||Inline-6 twin-turbo petrol|
|Max power||340PS@5,500-6,500 rpm|
|Max torque||450Nm@1,500-5,200 rpm|
|Suspension (f/r)||Independent multilink air suspension|
|Wheels & tyres||275/45 R20(f), 305/40 R20(r)|
|LxWxH(mm)||4,935 x 2,004 x 1,696|
|PRICES(on-road, as tested, Mumbai)||Rs 1.15 crore|
|*OVERDRIVE test figures|
Images by Rajeev Gaikwad
Starts Rs 95 Lakhs
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