Extra money buys a grille which lights up

Extra money buys a grille which lights up

Four cylinder engines? Hybrid, PHEV, EV power? You won't find any of these in the third generation BMW X6. While low or zero tailpipe emissions powertrains may come later in the lifecycle of the new G06 series model, for now it's an all-turbo line-up of six- and eight-cylinder engines. 

Why has BMW launched the latest iteration of its big coupe-SUV without even a token nod to those who might expect a plug-in hybrid at least? The likely reason is simple economics. Most people who bought the old-shape F16 X6 and F86 X6 M wanted six-cylinder and V8 petrol engines so that's what the company is serving up, for now at least.

A PHEV to be added in 2020?

The recent arrival of the X5 xDrive45e iPerformance will almost certainly mean that an X6 equivalent will follow in 2020. That means a petrol-electric powertrain with a range of up to 80km between plug-in recharges. Combined maximum output should be the same 290kW (394PS) and 600Nm from the 3.0-litre turbo engine and single motor, driving both axles.

Before anyone takes BMW to task for launching a big, heavy SUV without any form of electrification, they should take a look at the economy of the two diesel engines on offer. The least powerful, which is under the bonnet of the xDrive30d, produces 195kW (265hp) and 620Nm. This 2,993cc straight six gives Combined consumption of 42.8-46.3 mpg and a CO2 average of 172-159g/km.

The more powerful diesel alternative is the M50d. While it has an identical capacity, outputs rise to 294kW (400hp) and 760Nm thanks to four turbochargers. The CO2 numbers are 190-181g/km and Combined economy is 39.2-40.9mpg.

Straight six diesels, I6 and V8 petrols

As well as the diesels, there are also two petrol engines, these being a 2,998cc straight six for the xDrive40i (250kW/340hp and 450Nm) and a 4,395cc V8. The eight-cylinder engine comes in three forms: 390kW/530hp for the M50i, 441kW/592hp for the X6 M and 460kW/617hp for the X6 M Competition. All three share a 750Nm torque output.

Production of this 4,935mm (up 26mm over the second generation) model happens in South Carolina but as with the old model, AvtoTOR will almost certainly carry out SKD assembly at its Kaliningrad plant in Russia starting next year.

The company hasn't given any indication of annual production plans and so far, US market sales are still ramping up, deliveries numbering only 382 in November, which was the first month for the vehicle's global roll-out. China should again be the the main export destination with Russia, Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia and certain Gulf States also especially receptive to the new model.

Every X6 has Adaptive LED headlights with Laserlights optional. The front end isn't quite as striking as that of the X7 but it's distinctive. Owners can make their car stand out even more via optional illumination for the grille. That applies both at standstill or when on the move. This is activated by opening or closing a door, although the driver can also switch it on and off manually.

I sampled a xDrive40i in M Sport trim and this came with what BMW UK calls a Visibility Package. This GBP1,595 option means Laser headlights, which are claimed to increase the high beams' range to half a kilometre. You can tell cars which have this technology as there are blue x-shaped elements inside the headlight modules.

Other options include wheels of up to 22 inches, 19-inch designs being standard with the exception of the M50i and M50d which have special 21-inch rims. As well as the as-tested M Sport, buyers also have the alternatives of xLine or standard model grades.

No-one can say the new X6 has too small a boot, a criticism which some believe held back sales of the old models. G06 has a capacity of 580 litres, and this can be expanded to 1,530 when dropping the 40:20:40 split seat backrests. As with the original E71 and F16, the new model is not available with a third row of seats.

Driving the X6 you're reminded of the X5, and it's more of a sports model than the larger, heavier X7. The four-wheel system has been tuned to maintain a rear-wheel bias and you can also order an M differential lock for the back axle as part of M Sport specification or in conjunction with the optional xOffroad package.

There's nothing compact about the G06 and yet somehow the driving experience makes you forget the length and on most roads, even the 2,004mm width (+15mm compared to F16). Air suspension is an option, which is interesting in that BMW didn't make it standard.

No car launch nowadays would be complete without a lot of emphasis from the press department about driver assistance systems. Cruise Control with braking plus Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function (it also alerts the driver when a cyclist is detected) are standard but you must pay extra for Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go.

Other optional tech includes the steering and lane control assistant with Traffic jam assistant, along with lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection. What BMW calls an Evasion Assistant is part of Driving Assistant Professional, as are rear collision warning, road priority warning and wrong-way driving warning systems, crossing traffic warning, Lane Change Warning, Emergency Stop Assistant and reversing assistant. The last of these helps the driver when exiting parking spaces and manoeuvring within a confined space.

Every X6 has BMW's Intelligent Personal Assistant, a digital character which responds when 'Hey BMW' is spoken. The company says an ever increasing range of functions and skills will be expanded as part of regular updates. These can be carried out via a smartphone and in-car via Remote Software Upgrade. Something unusual about the assistant in the X6 is that owners can choose its name.

Conclusion

I struggled to fall for the X6, although that's not to say it isn't a first rate vehicle. In this case, it comes down to engines, with the 3.0-litre straight six being totally fine until you learn that there's another 170Nm on offer in the 30d or a whopping 240Nm more in the M50d. Even accounting for the additional heft, economy is better too. So if I had to choose an X6 over its competitors, then it would have to come with a straight six diesel and preferably the one with quad turbos.

The new BMW X6 is on sale now, priced from GBP59,340. The NEDC emissions range is 237-159g/km. The as-tested xDrive40i M Sport emits 237g/km and costs GBP63,060 before options.

Expert analysis

just-auto PLDB - vehicle cycle plan database (annual subscription)

just-auto PLDB - vehicle cycle plan database (annual subscription)

PLDB from just-auto.com is a cost effective, vehicle cycle plan database, showing the production life of all major current and future vehicle models produced (or to be produced) globally by all brands...read more

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more