The second generation BMW X6.
The second generation BMW X6. Mark Bean

2015 BMW X6 road test review | Survival triumph

DOES my bum look big in this?

That's the loaded question which comes to mind with the BMW X6. If that's what you're asking, then this isn't the car for you.

And that's its exact intention. Existing purely to look good, this is the SUV you buy when you don't want an SUV or a sports car.

Confused?

Many people were too when it was first launched, but the niche car has proven all naysayers wrong by selling more than 260,000 units worldwide since its 2008 launch.

Even BMW undercooked the initial numbers - the Bavarian brand had expected to only move about 150k.

Now the second generation has arrived with slight price rises, although that is offset by equipment that BMW estimates is worth more than $10,000 depending on the model.

For the moment there are three variants, starting with the entry-level $115,400 xDrive30d, bookended by the $157,900 M50d.

Another diesel and a petrol variant will arrive later this month.

Mark Bean

Comfort

Originally launched with only four seats, this new X6 has a bench pew which can fit three adults across the back.

It's an expansive cabin, and those up front have sizable room with excellent head, leg and knee room - you can even share the console arm rest with space to spare.

Those in the back have less head room due to the sloping roofline, yet it's still good enough for most mature folk.

The leather-trimmed dash and console finishes combine with a 25cm colour screen which meets premium expectations.

Drivers have a cool new digital instrument display sitting within two circular clusters, as the needle climbs the digits on the speedometer and tachometers become more pronounced for a clear and concise view of operations.

Click into sport mode and it turns an angry orange and red with bigger digital displays rather than the traditional analogue-looking gauges on normal modes.

On the road

Now equipped with 20-inch alloys (about 90% of previous X6s were upgraded from 19s anyway), it gets along nicely with a surprisingly quiet and supple ride.

Riding and cornering like a car, you can tackle a bend without much body roll and it somehow defies its two-tonne kerb weight. On occasions it can feel a bit wallowy, but despite its bulk the X6 is an easy steer and responsive underfoot.

There are currently three engine choices, although it's easy to see why the base model 3.0-litre diesel earns the bulk of sales.

It's an outstanding powerplant which suits highway and metropolitan travels. Jump on the accelerator and the X6 hauls nicely - the 0-100kmh time of sub seven seconds ensures it won't be left pondering when the lights go green.

Both the V8 petrol xDrive50i and tri-turbo diesel M50d deliver a more rapid acceleration response and meatier mid-range punch. The pair will throw you back in the seat accompanied a growling exhaust soundtrack.

Mark Bean

What do you get?

New standard kit includes 20-inch alloys, LED headlights which mirror steering, Driving Assistant which has lane departure and pedestrian warning functions, along with an ability to automatically call for help in the event of an accident.

The xDrive30d comes standard with cruise control with braking function, leather trim, sports front seats with lumbar support, front and rear parking sensors, start/stop button, dual-zone climate control air con, automatic wipers and lights, Bluetooth connectivity with voice control, CD stereo with USB and aux inputs as well as sat nav.

Stepping up into the 50i and 50d models adds radar cruise control, automatic parking, four-zone climate control air con, Harman/Kardon audio system with digital radio and metallic paint.

Typically, there is an array of options.

Safety in all models includes six airbags, stability and traction control, hill descent control, cameras which provide top view and have an ability to see around corners (perfect for coming out of blind driveways) along with the head-up display which projects key information onto the windscreen.

Practicality

That groovy rear end robs the X6 of some functionality. But this model gets an extra 75 litres of boot space, which is now 580 litres.

Rear seats have a 40-20-40 split, which when dropped in unison provides 1525 litres of space.

Mark Bean

Running costs

Diesel models deliver outstanding fuel consumption - even the M50d gets tax concessions for achieving an average of less than seven litres/100km. The V8 petrol now drinks less than 10 litres/100km, which is actually pretty good for this size vehicle and the performance attributes.

Maintenance can be expensive, while with the 20-inch rubber be prepared to pay close to $1000 a corner for replacement, and being a softer compound tyre you're likely to get only about 30,000km per set.

Funky factor

Dimensions have received little change, maintaining the coupe rear end which polarises opinion. The trademark BMW kidney grille has only seven slots and together with the LED lights makes for a broad and aggressive front end.

This model is also more slippery in the aerodynamics department, courtesy of new air curtains in the bumper and breathers above the front wheels. It borrows some styling cues from the X5 and X4, like the creases in the bonnet and the profile line which extends from the rear door to the back bumper.

The lowdown

Whether you like the design is still debatable.

Opinions are rarely benign - you either love it or despise the X6.

New standard equipment strengthens the value argument which further enhances the appeal of the 30d. Shelling out the extra coin to get into the V8 petrol or the tri-turbo diesel is hard to fathom, simply because the entry diesel is so good.

Luxurious, beautiful to drive and a styling standout. The perfect choice for those with premium tastes and who want to stand out from the plush crowd.

Mark Bean

Vital statistics

Model: BMW X6.

Details: Five-door all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.

Engines: 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel generating maximum power of 190kW @ 4000rpm and 560Nm @ 1500-3000rpm; 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 petrol 330kW @ 5500-6000rpm and 650Nm @ 2000-4500rpm; 3.0-litre triple-turbo six-cylinder diesel 280kW @ 4000-4400rpm and 740Nm @ 2000-3000rpm.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.

Consumption: 6.0 litres/100km (combined average); 9.7L/100km; 6.6L/100km;

Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.7 seconds; 4.8 seconds; 5.2 seconds.

Bottom line plus on-roads: xDrive30d $115,400, xDrive50i $151,600, M50d $157,900.

What matters most

What we liked: Dash and digital instruments, improved boot room, base model is the pick of the bunch.

What we'd like to see: Automated parking as standard.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist. Servicing intervals is dependent on driving style, and can be as long as two years or 30,000km. A pre-paid servicing pack is available, starting from $1440 for maintenance over five years or 80,000km.



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