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X6. When it comes to luxury vehicle manufacturers, the naming scheme can be a bit confusing. Moreover, it is difficult to recall exactly what a car is all about simply by the name. But with the X6, most people find it easy because of it being such a distinct or even peculiar car. BMW X6. Conjured up the silhouette yet?
“What a car!”, that was our reaction when we went to Munich to pick up the BMW X6 M for our Bosnia-Montenegro trip. “What a damn car!”, was, more or less, enough to sum up our thoughts after driving it around in the Balkans and ripping the tarmac off of the Autobahn.
Beauty and Brutality in the same package delivered in typical BMW fashion. There’s not a lot more a petrolhead can ask for. And we got another stab at it right here in India… but there’s a catch. Before we get to that, take a look at the car. It does not look like your conventional SUV. BMW X5 pulls that off beautifully. But the BMW X6, despite being typically referred to as an SUV, looks like a coupe. A coupe on some serious, serious darn steroids.
Being pop culture fanatics, it conjures up a very peculiar image- Thanos in a tuxedo. Why? BMW X6’s SUV proportions make it look like Thanos. But it is the coupe styling that adds a tux. In essence, he can still snap but he does not look like he will.
Coupe and SUV is a peculiar combo and we are seeing a lot of it nowadays. But it was BMW that started this tradition. They undertook this styling exercise in 2008 for the first time. The X6 was introduced in 2008 as an SAC or Sports Activity Coupe, widely considered to be one of the very first of its kinds.
In typical fashion and like it is with everything that is done for the first time, it was polarising. Some people liked the heady mix and some did not. The remainder were left just confused. Regardless, the numbers were undebatable. BMW X6 sold very well and continues to do so even after so many years.
We think that one of the biggest reasons for the success of the BMW X6 was the balance it struck and the way it was executed. BMW’s flawless design and engineering make it stand out and that too with pride. It makes coupes look anaemic and it makes SUVs look like brawn without brain.
As we fawned over the sheer presence of the car, we also realized that we had to be objective too. So, we took a closer look and when we did, we realized that the most striking aspect of this car is also a problem for it. Let us try to explain. It looks beautiful from angles but somewhat confusing on the whole. It is proportionate, yes, but selectively so.
Individually, the front looks amazing. Sleek headlights, signature BMW kidney grille (a tad too big), intakes flanked by parking lights on the chin and the rising hood. It looks pretty darn good. The rear, despite being a mismatch, pulls through with the sleek tail lamps. Why mismatch? The coupe styling makes it look a tad bloated.
Once you look at it from the side, you realize what the real problem is. It is not a bad-looking car… not by a long shot. It just catches you off-guard. And it is bound to since SUVs and coupes are worlds apart. It is like a sleeper in the sense that it takes time to grow on you. This surprise element is like a speed bump. And the thing with speed bumps is that you eventually get up to speed again.
That was about the exterior. How about the interior though? Well, the cabin has been done in typical-BMW fashion and all is forgiven as soon as you step inside the car… even the compromised boot space and rear headroom. Both of these niggles are, again, the result of the coupe roofline and also, the perception of the general populace that considers it a typical SUV.
See you want everything SUV, you get the X5. Tons of boot space, tons of room in the rear, and a comfortable carriage for carrying more than one passenger. The BMW X6 is more about the pizzazz. You may not be able to ferry more than one passenger, but then, you won’t want to. What you want in the X6 is one special passenger and you in the driver’s seat.
Anyway, special passenger or not, the driver’s seat is from where you enjoy this car the best. It easily lives up to BMW’s age-old tradition of making great drivers’ cars. In terms of seating position, the BMW X6 is one of the best cars that we have driven. It seats you high and in a commanding position which you’d want in a car of this size. Add to that all the gizmos, BMW iDrive, and heads-up display and the experience is enhanced manifolds.
Coming to the driving part, the variant that we drove this time around is the X6 xDrive40i. It is powered by a silky-smooth twin-turbo inline-6 cylinder engine producing 340 bhp of power and 450 Nm of torque. The power is transmitted to the wheels via the slick 8-speed Steptronic transmission and since it is the xDrive, the power is sent to all the wheels. The all-wheel-drive and the grunty engine is one of the major factors that contribute to the surprising acceleration that this behemoth of a car possesses.
Inside the city, the car feels pretty sedate. You can trudge around town easily without fiddling with anything at all. There is no jerking or shuddering or the kind of revolt that some sportier cars kick up. One thing you have to be careful of is the clearance. Since the car is really wide, you have to pay some attention while manoeuvring it. But then, with the wonderful steering and the seating position, it is pretty easy to do so.
Show it some open roads and this sedate seeming car is quite a bit of fun to drive. Now, we won’t say that it just unleashes its fury upon the one who dares to drive it. The way the power is delivered makes this car very approachable. It is smooth, calculated and cool. It carries similar traits in the corners too. Because of the weight, the ride height and pliant suspension, there is a bit of initial body roll. But it settles down pretty quickly.
Do we feel the BMW X6 is a car that is somehow lacking? We were inclined to think that way. The reason for that is very simple. It was our prior experience that set the bar and expectations a tad too high. See the X6 M that we drive during our Balkans trip was the X6 M, a 567 bhp and 750 Nm beast! So naturally, the X6 xDrive40i felt a little mild in comparison. But we’d also state that with all that it can do and the signature X6 styling that it sports, it can easily let you (to some extent) and onlookers (to the full extent) have the “real X6 fun”. Just… don’t rev it or pop the hood or else… they’ll know.