In 2008, BMW forged a new path in the SUV market by combining the functionality of a built-up model with coupe styling to create the ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’ – the X6 being the first.
After the smaller X4 was introduced, BMW had two ‘SAVs’ that were interesting alternatives to the more conventional SUVs that it offered.
Here, we get behind the wheel of the second generation X6, which comes with an improved powertrain setup and cleaner styling than before.
Available with three diesel engines, we tested the base level option, the 30d, which develops 255bhp and 560Nm of torque. The 30d – as with all the units in the line-up – is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive, meaning the X6 can get from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 143mph.
Despite being the least powerful offering, the 30d is a good engine for the X6 as it doesn’t struggle in getting you up to speed and is smooth when cruising on a motorway. The 40d offers 308bhp so it can go from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds – while the performance-angled M50d develops 375bhp to get you to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.0 seconds.
Ride & Handling
With the X6’s high roof, you would expect it to roll a lot through the corners. But as BMW has set the X6 up to drive more like a saloon, it is able to tackle sharp turns without feeling like it will topple over and can actually keep up with more performance-angled models. As the car has a slightly firmer setup to keep it upright, it does lack the comfort of the X5 but is still quite refined.
The steering is surprisingly sharp and drivers can choose how the car will feel through the four driving modes. Sport and Sport+ can make the car’s ride feel too jiggly, so if you want it to remain smooth in the cabin, stay in Comfort mode.
Interior & Equipment
With the angled roof, headroom for passengers in the rear is not as great as you would expect from a car of this size and only shorter people will be able to settle – but legroom is good thanks to the long wheelbase. Space up front is really good, and is with other BMW's, the dashboard is angled towards you for ease of use as a driver.
Despite being less practical than the similarly-sized X5, the boot space is only 70 litres smaller at 580 litres, and when the rear seats aren’t in use, you can fold the split bench down to create a 1,525-litre load space. There are also plenty of additional storage pockets throughout the cabin.
M Sport is the standard trim option, and with it the X6 comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive M suspension, folding automatic wing mirrors, front sports seats, leather steering wheel with gear shift paddles, iDrive infotainment system with eight-inch screen, satellite navigation and automatic climate control.
Safety systems include the driving assistant package – which includes lane departure warning and approach control with light city braking function – as well as parking distance control and reversing assist camera.
Prices for the X6 start from £61,105 for the 30d M Sport we tried, while the more powerful 40d start from £63,825. If you’re after the performance M50d offering, prices do start much higher at £72,705.
Even if the X6 is quite large, the 30d diesel can still offer quoted returns of 40.3mpg and 183g/km CO2, which isn’t too bad for a large SUV.See available X6 deals
Even if the niche market of coupe-styled SUVs has grown in recent years, the X6 is still one of the few options available – and it is still a worthy competitor in the SUV segment. It’s nice to drive, has plenty of space and lots of equipment – but taller passengers will struggle to get comfortable in the back due to the encroaching roofline. While it is quite expensive, the X6 is a surprisingly good all-rounder and one that you should go for if standard SUVs are a bit too dull for your taste.