The founding father of luxury Coupe SUVs, the BMW X6, now in its third-generation, has arrived in India. Will it continue to be the king of the hill though?
When BMW coined the term Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) with the launch of the original X6 back in 2008, the whole world laughed and thought the Germans had lost it. A coupe body on top of the X5 was seen as a joke in poor taste.
Fast forward to the present day, BMW has already dispatched nearly half a million of X6s around the globe, and the vehicle is now in its third generation. Not to mention, in the last decade, other manufacturers have blatantly copied BMW’s work – today Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche have at least one Coupe SUV in their range. So, who’s laughing all the way to the bank now?
The X6 was the founding father of the luxury Coupe SUV segment, so it’s a very important vehicle for BMW. The third-gen X6 made its global debut last year, and it has now arrived in India. Updates include an all-new platform (same as X5), sharper design, and a lot of new features and equipment. So, is it still the king of the hill in the Coupe SUV space? Let’s find out…
Even though the X6 has been around for over a decade, it’s by no means a work of art. And that continues with this third-gen version. It’s still a controversial body type, and if you look at it long and hard, you’ll realize that the design of BMW’s original Sports Activity Coupe has only gotten busier and more confusing in the latest model. Like recent BMWs, the X6, too, has a massive grille – however, here, it doesn’t stand out as much as BMW sedans, since there’s a lot of muscle elsewhere that hides it. But BMW will offer you an illuminated grille if you want extra bling. Apart from that, the X6 now gets LED Laser lights (optional) and beefy bumpers both at the front and the rear.
From the sides, the profile is that of a coupe, which means that you have a dropping roof-line attached to the body of an SUV. The rear-end is where updates are most prominent. It gets a new set of L-shaped LED taillamps and beefier bumper. Coming to the new platform, the X6 is now based on the same CLAR architecture as the X5. As a result, it’s longer and wider but sits slightly lower than its predecessor. Its wheelbase is 42mm longer (2,975mm) than before.
The model on test here is the M Sport variant, so it gets a sporty body kit. This includes M aerodynamics package and 20-inch M ‘Starspoke’ alloy wheels with massive M Sport brakes, which look rather attractive. In this particular ‘riverside blue’ shade, the X6 undoubtedly draws attention. Overall, it’s not attractive in the true sense of the word, but there’s no denying that it looks very cool for all the wrong reasons. Whatever you think of it, it has this big bad boy sort of vibe, which – as much as I don’t want to say it out loud – definitely works in its favour.
Inside, the new X6 gets a brand-new interior, which feels much better than the old version. However, if you’ve been inside the current-gen X5, you’ve already seen it all. The equipment and dashboard design are identical to the X5 – there’s a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment, along with BMW Live Cockpit digital instrumentation. It also has 360-degree surround cameras, wireless Apple Car Play (no Android Auto as yet), park assist, a Harman Kardon sound system, wireless phone charging, a head-up display, and more. The M Sport variant gets M Leather Steering Wheel and sports seats. The quality is superb, and the X6 feels so much nicer and more modern than before. The only fly in the ointment is perhaps the rear bench – it lacks under-thigh support and has a compromised headroom because of the slanting roof. The boot space of 580 litres makes it quite practical though. All told, this is still a very focused vehicle and is meant for people who like to drive and flaunt their wheels.
At the moment, BMW is only offering the X6 with a single petrol engine – 40i. This is the same powertrain that’s offered with the X5 petrol. Coming to its specifications, it’s a 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-scroll turbo engine that delivers 335bhp and 450Nm of torque. For power transmission duties, there is an 8-speed automatic transmission unit, which sends drive to all four wheels.
The X6 weighs well over two tonnes, but the drivetrain still manages to hurl this behemoth from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds. Power delivery is instantaneous – there’s simply no delay or hesitation. The 8-speed automatic gearbox, which we have already experienced in many BMWs, is probably the best in the business. Shifts are lightning quick and react to your commands with sincerity. Every time I used the paddles for an up- or down-shift, the job was done as quickly as possible. It’s a snappy tranny and makes driving an involving affair. On top of the that, the M Sport exhaust on this variant adds more zing to the overall driving experience. In case you don’t want to drive enthusiastically, you can turn everything down, and the engine and gearbox work in an unbelievably smooth manner.
There are different driving modes on offer. The M Sport variant gets M Adaptive dampers with steel springs. Air-suspension is optional on this variant, but it’s offered as standard with the xLine derivative. Having said that, steel springs with adjustable dampers is more in line with the M Sport version’s sporty characteristic. For one, the vehicle feels tied down to the road at high speeds, and it also handles really well around bends. The M Sport steering adds a sporty feel to the overall experience, and the feedback from the wheel is quite good.
The ride quality, on the other hand, isn’t as plush as the X5 with air-suspension – even in Comfort mode, X6 feels jittery at low speeds. At high speeds, it settles down, but the setup remains inherently stiff. The suspension also has a lot of side-to-side vertical movement when you drive on wavy roads at high speeds. And that, coupled with the high riding stance of the X6, can get a bit alarming when you’re doing triple-digit speeds.
The X6 remains a controversial vehicle and continues to be a polarizing figure in the automotive universe. You can love it or loathe it, but you can’t simply ignore it. There’s a lot of cool factor on offer in this latest generation version, and no matter how hard you try to hate it, the X6 has a very likeable personality. In addition to that, it drives really well for a high-riding vehicle. Plus, the M Sport derivative here leans more to the Coupe side of things than being an SUV, which makes it all the more involving.
At Rs 95 lakh (ex-showroom), the X6 is a lot more expensive than its sibling, the X5, which is mechanically identical and more practical. So, why would you buy an X6 over the X5? Does its Coupe SUV body type really make it worth the extra dough?
Well, I think we’ll be able to answer that question for you very soon. So, stay tuned…
- 2020 BMW X6 xDrive M40i
Engine: 2,998cc / 6-Cylinders / Turbocharged
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic/ All-Wheel Drive
Power: 335bhp @ 5,500 – 6,500rpm
Torque: 450Nm @ 1,500 – 5,200rpm
Price: ₹95 lakh (ex-showroom)
X-factor: The X6 is still big, brute and pointless, but it’s still very, very cool, and likeable.
• Attention grabber
• Firm ride
• Controversial design