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Motoring: Lots of power, but BMW X6's not perfect

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | March 9th, 2009



We have all heard of, love at first sight. However at first sight, I didn't know what to make of the new BMW X6.

In the world of cross-overs, SUV's and coupe-like sedans, the X6 manages to be something truly unique, it is in fact a coupe SUV.

How did this X6 come about?

Well I am not quite sure, but it seems to me that a BMW X5 SUV had a one night stand with a BMW M6 coupe, and the end result is what you see on this page this week.

Is it pretty? In my view, no, but it sure is an interesting looking thing. I will say the looks do grow on you after awhile, especially after you go for a drive.


For your drive, you will first have to decide weather you'd be fine with the xDrive35i model, which has a three-litre, twin-turbo, six-cylinder motor that produces 300hp, or if you'd prefer to choose the snarling beasty I had to live with recently, the xDrive50i.

This version has a 4.4-litre, V8, which also has been blessed with not one, but two turbo-chargers. To point out the obvious, I really rather like cars that come with twin-turbo charged engines, like the Bentley Continental GT Speed, the Lotus Esprit V8, and the Porsche 911 Turbo.

The unit in this BMW punches out a very satisfying 400hp. Even more impressive is its torque figure, as it produces 450 lb/ft of torque at just 1800rpm.

What this means is, that when you put its six-speed automatic gearbox in ‘D' you can be hitting 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds. That is seriously quick, in fact it is quicker than a Ford Mustang GT, so if any of you would like to take on an X6 at a traffic light grand-prix, make sure your car is up to the challenge.

But it's not just its sprint to 100 km/h that is impressive. At any speed on the road, at just the slightest twitch of the accelerator, it lunges forward like a cheetah that has just spotted its lunch.

BMW also provides, for your entertainment, gear-shift paddles on the steering wheel to allow you to change gears as you wish. Not only is this function handy, BMW also did the paddle arrangement right, so pull the pedal for an up-shift, and press it down for a down-shift, Porsche should take note.

BMW also engineered an artificial throttle blip, as you down-shift, to make you feel like a pro is driving a proper manual gearbox. This X6 certainly knows how to put a smile on my face, and I bet it would do the same for you.

To keep my smile planted, the X6 also handles brilliantly, thanks to its intelligent all-wheel drive system which directs power to the wheel that can best use it. So it doesn't handle like a truck, or an SUV, or even a cross-over, it handles like a properly tuned sports sedan and that is just incredible. I certainly didn't think of it as a road carving device when I first saw it. So be in no doubt, the X6 is one of the most satisfying vehicles to drive on the market today.

But it's not perfect, not by a long shot.

First of all, the ride is quite bumpy, so if you are headed out for a drive after a big lunch, you might be visiting your lunch again. Then there is the space, which isn't abundant. Unlike its sister the X5, the X6 is just a four seater, and while the front passengers have enough room, adults in the back seat might complain about the rear headroom, thanks to its sloping roofline.

Also thanks to its sloping roofline, there isn't much luggage space as you might imagine. So if you're moving and your friend owns an X6, ask someone else.

Neither of these things bothered me as much as my daily entry into the vehicle. Thanks to its swept-back A-pillars, low roofline and a high seating position, my head would bang against the roof every single time I got in it. I even tried tricks to try to get in without hitting my head, but none worked. So it sort of gave me a concussion every time I got in it, but personally I am willing to live with that just because I enjoyed driving it so much.

I might have enjoyed it too much, because my week's average fuel-economy was 18.3-litres/100km. That didn't go well for my wallet, but thankfully gas is still cheaper than it was last summer, so it's not too bad, even if I had to feed it the finest premium fuel.

At least the X6 doesn't cost as much as you might think. The xDrive35i model starts at $63,900, while the xDrive50i starts at $78,100. My quite well-loaded test vehicle was still under $83,000. I know for lots of people, that is a lot of money for a vehicle, but look at it this way, it is a sports coupe and a year-round SUV all rolled into one, so not a bad deal at all.

So by all means, jump into one and try it out yourself, just watch your head as you get in.
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