Generally speaking ‘to have broad shoulders’ is to have the ability to take criticism or accept responsibility (wouldn’t that be nice nowadays) but when it comes to BMW New Zealand’s third-generation X6 SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle), it takes on a whole new meaning. We took the xDrive30d M Sport model for a review to find out more.
First off the production line in 2008, the coupe-styled mid-sized luxury crossover was longer and wider than the X5, offered a higher ride height than the 5 and 6 series, all-wheel-drive allowing you to venture a little further and more than ample interior refinement to satisfy the brand’s demanding clientele.
2015 saw the second generation hit the streets, bigger and bolder with an 8-speed auto gearbox and more space in the rear for your outdoor pursuit toys, what’s more it firmly established itself in BMW’s premium vehicle line-up. No pressure for gen three then.
With over a decade of history to draw from, BMW has amplified the positives (for which there are many) on this third-gen X6. It was always going to need broad shoulders and that’s exactly what it’s got, over 2m of them. It’s longer too, boasting a footprint that now nears 5m but its Coupe roofline has been lowered to offer a visually more athletic stance, more muscular, more SAV.
My review model came in carbon black and complete with BMW’s M-Sport package. Its iconic ‘kidney grilles’ are now one unmissable single frame design and my xDrive30d version came with the illuminated ‘glow’ option (standard in NZ), it looks great at night. Character air vents are positioned front, side and rear, they add to the SAV’s good looks but in my case were purely cosmetic (maybe they are functional on the M models) but the huge 22-inch feet rounded out the big crossover’s stance. My model also came with the laserlight option, they really do turn night to day when driving free of the city neons.
The interior is uber premium, it’s all-new X5 meets sports coupe. My Vernasca leather furniture came in coffee, something a little different than regular black, the crystal gear stick is a talking point and the ‘carbon fibre style’ trim was a handsome option to tick. The seats are cooled and heated and the armrests both door and centre console heat up when activated. The cup holders are heated and cooled too – it’s a great touch.
The new X6 comes with a refined brain too controlled by the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (AI system). A simple “Hey BMW” (or you can personalize the name) gives you access to all manner of functions including changing the radio station and cabin temperature (for which there are 4-zones), to directions and restaurants. It learns your behaviour too, if you’re a relatively consistent type of person that switches on the heated seat every time you leave the home, it will offer this as a suggestion in case you forget.
The infotainment screen is huge (12.3”) and easy to navigate around, as is the instrument cluster and head up display and the driver’s aids are almost too many to mention. Personally I like the reversing assistant that will track you last 50m and handle the reversing for you but for those driver’s that are not keen on using the stick on the steering column that makes lights flash on the vehicle’s corners, the lane-keep assist doesn’t allow you to cross over lines without a struggle.
With a little time on my hands, I took the X6 on a jaunt around the rural roads that make up north Auckland. The 3L, 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine performs like a diesel engine shouldn’t, sure it’s torquey, 620Nm to be exact and the 195kW of power is nothing to be sneezed at either, but it’s the fact that it takes this hefty SAV from 0-100km/h in just 6.5 seconds and the deep (petrol-like) sound that had me suitably impressed.
Its BMW xDrive system ensures that corners simply added to the fun of driving freedom and the 8-speed transmission jumps up and down the range seamlessly, so easily in fact that I didn’t bother with the paddles. It’s roomy too. Should I have cared to take them with me, there would have been room for five of us, well four and three quarters and the 580L of trunk space would have gladly accepted their usually excessive amount of paraphernalia.
Sure the 2020 BMW New Zealand X6 has a lot to live up to but with its broad shoulders, technical smarts, upmarket luxury and coupe good looks it’s more than up to the task. It’ll take you where you need or more importantly ‘want’ to go and despite its larger footprint, the X6 feels as spritely as a sedan to drive.