THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Astounding wealth of technology blended with prodigious power and handling.
- What’s Worst: Thirsty.
- What’s Interesting: Centre 10.2-inch screen can be seen even in the strongest direct sunlight.
There is no mistaking the 2015 BMW X6 xDrive50i.
Viewed from any angle, especially looming up behind you in the rearview mirror, the sheer size and aggressive styling can be intimidating.
BMW calls the X6 a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), as opposed to a SUV or CUV, to purposefully set it apart in a sort of its own segment.
Set high on very large wheels, the X6 has a long hood, very short overhangs and a long wheelbase to accommodate the aft positioned passenger cell.
But the most striking feature is the deeply downward angled rear liftgate, giving it a bob-tailed look that has been copied by a few others, such as the Acura ZDX and Honda Accord Crosstour, but not with the same effect.
The X6 is now in its second generation and continues to be built in South Carolina as the xDrive35i and the xDrive50i as tested here.
Each with an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s well-known all-wheel-drive system, the two models are separated primarily by the engine, the first of which is a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder with BMW TwinPower (twin scroll) turbo producing 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque.
The X6 xDrive50i, as tested here, uses TwinPower technology on a 4.4-litre V8 for 445 hp and 480 lb/ft of torque, an increase of 45 hp and 30 lb/ft over the 2014 model.
With this, the 50i goes from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than the outgoing model.
Fuel consumption is rated at 16.1/10.9/13.8L/100 km city/highway/combined on premium gasoline. Over 469 km of mostly secondary roads in Ontario I averaged 15.2L/100 km.
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The X6 includes an Eco Pro mode, which tunes engine management, accelerator response and transmission characteristics that blended to support a fuel-efficient, low-rpm driving style. In addition to stop/start, Eco Pro can decouple the engine when coasting, without engine breaking, at speeds greater than 50 km/h.
And get this! Eco Pro routes can be selected through the navigation system, which engages the Proactive Driving Assistant function, that tells the driver when to ease off the gas to save fuel.
What I noticed most when driving was the braking regeneration system, which feeds power back to the battery in much the same way as a mild hybrid.
In addition to the already aggressive styling, my tester came with the optional ($2,900) M Sport Package including the widest 20-inch alloy wheels and tires you can imagine and a host of styling extras, such as contoured side skirts and rear diffuser insert. But it also included the Adaptive M Suspension.
A stand-alone option fitted to the xDrive50i was Dynamic Performance Control, which is available as part of the optional Dynamic Adaptive Suspension option. It seamlessly varies the power split between the rear wheels (torque vectoring). At the same time, Dynamic Performance Control keeps the X6 stable if the driver lifts off the accelerator through a corner.
What it means to you and me is you can enter a corner at a reasonable speed and it will go around like it was on rails and with no noticeable body lean, quite a feat for the vehicle of this size, weight and height.
Even more impressive is the interior that starts with Poplar Wood trim strips that can be changed for Fineline Oak Wood, Fineline Striped Wood and Fineline Pure Wood as a no-cost option.
The blue, white and orange ambient interior lighting can be used in monochromatic and six pre-stored combinations, selected through the iDrive controller on the centre console.
If you have the optional Parking Assistant, you can press a button and the X6 will parallel park itself. And to see all this plus traffic approaching from any angle, there is the optional 360-degree camera.
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The new Head-Up Display projects information in full colour onto the windshield with added content for 2015 that includes telephone contact lists, entertainment as well as vehicle speed. In addition, 3D graphics also read out Check Control messages and navigation information that includes lane recommendations and speed limits.
Standard with the iDrive operating system is a free-floating, centre stack mounted 10.2-inch screen. This is in addition to the driver’s instrument and information display, which use black panel technology.
It also boasts as standard power glass roof that is five inches longer that the outgoing version.
There are six, standard Dakota leather colours offered with heated/cooled front seats and optional rear heated seats.
Fitted to our tester was the optional ($2,500) Nappa leather package with warm, orange inserts with an Anthracite headliner.
The 40/20/40 split/fold back seat offers 580 litres behind the seat and 1,526 litres folded. There are storage cubbies throughout and numerous door slots for 1.5-litre bottles.
As you can gather from the above, the X6, especially the fully, and I mean, fully loaded xDrive50i, has so many advances that it eclipses most other vehicles on the road.
But it comes are a price. The X6 tested here starts at $83,190 but with options (most of which I had no room to list) it costs $105,640 not including the $2,095 shipping fee.
It’s a lot of money, but it is also a lot of Sports Activity Vehicle.
2015 BMW xDrive50i at a glance
BODY STYLE: Premium luxury SAV
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo, 300 hp, 300 lb/ft of torque; 4.4-litre DOHC twin turbo V8 (445 hp, 480 lb/ft) as tested
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) xDrive50i as tested, 16.1/10.9/13.8L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO: 550 litres behind rear seat, 1,525 litres folded
PAYLOAD: 503 kg (1,110 lb)
PRICE: Base, $83,190: plus Premium Pkg, $5,900; Nappa Leather seating, $2,500; M Sport Pkg, $2,900; Connected Drive and ARTTI Pkg, $500. Stand along options: Smartphone integration $600; Active Steering, $1,650; Dynamic Active Suspension; Bang and Olufsen Sound System, $4,900. Grand total as tested, $105,640 not including $2,095 shipping fee