2015 BMW X6 xDrive50i M Sport review
Mark Higgins’ first drive 2015 BMW X6 xDrive50i M Sport review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
IN A NUTSHELL : BMW introduced the X6 in 2008 saying it had created a whole new vehicle segment. The world went, um, er, what the? And then sales boomed and it’s remained a top-seller ever since.
THE ARRIVAL OF this second-generation BMW X6, sees the German car maker largely leave the thing alone with a few minor but important engineering tweaks, as well as some plastic surgery and a focus, locally at least, on upping equipment levels.
Bigger wheels and driver technology systems, like the flick-of-a-switch four-mode (Sport +, Sport, Comfort, Eco) driving system, which alters throttle mapping, gearshift points, steering feel and suspension firmness headline the engineering changes.
Sitting up high on huge 20-inch wheels the permanent all-wheel drive the X6xDrive50i has real on-road presence. It has the signature BMW styling cues, like the twin kidney shaped grilles, adaptive LED headlights, daytime running lights, a deep chin spoiler, bold body lines along with chrome and carbon touches. Then there’s the sloping roofline and corresponding tapered window line. The rear hatch window is quite large, (but missing a wiper) and around the back are two rectangular exhausts. Its big, bold, and in your face.
While the exterior design pushes boundaries, inside it is typical BMW, with swathes of leather, discreet (cost optional) American oak paneling and aluminium highlights. The leather trimmed sports seats, with heating function are supremely comfortable and electric adjustment means you can quickly find your perfect driving position. Between the front seats, the wide console has the gearshift, electric handbrake, iDrive controller, cupholders and a large storage box hidden under the armrest.
The dash displays traditional analogue instruments in comfort and eco modes, but flick to Sport mode and the gauges change colour and morph into digital readouts. The thick-rimmed steering wheel, with multi functions and shift paddles fills the hand nicely.
Nestled below the soft-leather dash top is the tablet style, coloured infotainment screen where you drive the sat nav, the superb 16-speaker Harmon Kardon audio, Bluetooth, multimedia and the iDrive with its a very, very long list of menus, sub menus and options that would take several pages to cover. There is no doubt it’s a more intuitive system than before, but still a bit of a chore to navigate through all the sub menus and options to find what you want.
Up front, there is plenty of room in all directions and though there is now a 40/20/40 split-fold bench seat in the rear legroom is limited and the sloping roofline reduces headspace. Luggage space is also compromised. With the seats in place there’s 550 litres, which expands to 1525 litres of space with the seats folded down. The thick front and rear pillars and small rear window reduce rear visibility.
With the X6 xDrive50i set in Economy or Comfort modes, the steering, gearshifts and power delivery are gentle. The softish suspension, wishbone front and multi-link at the rear, allowed a degree of body roll and suppressed road imperfections beautifully. The 275/40 front, 315/35 rear, run-flat tyres provided a reassuring level of grip though became noisy across some surfaces.
Move into Sport or Sport+ modes and you immediately feel the difference, with the steering tightening up, the suspension too firms up offering a flatter, firmer ride that becomes fidgety across coarse surfaces, but offers impressive cornering agility. The eight-speed gearbox is altered in its behaviour too, with the shift itself becoming quicker (by milliseconds, but…) flicking through the gears with rifle bolt speed and precision.
But… No matter what setting you choose, the X6 xDrive50i from standing start is a little jerky as the gearbox tries to contend with 330kW and 650Nm being pushed through it. Running disc brakes all round, the pedal offers a solid, progressive feel and do a great job of pulling the big thing up.
Under the bonnet, the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 pushes out 33okW at 5500rpm and 650Nm from just 1740rpm. This is mated to an eight-speed automatic and fuel consumption is a combined 9.7L/100km. As impressive as this thing’s ability to get off the line is (it’ll reach 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds), it’s the mid-range that truly impresses, allowing for effortless overtaking and cruising.
Standard equipment on the $151,600 (+ORC) X6 xDrive5.0i includes heads-up display, auto tailgate, dual-zone climate control aircon front and back, front and rear parking sensors, surround view parking cameras, auto tailgate,10.25-inch colour screen, in-built DVD player, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and leather trim.
In typical BMW fashion, there’s a long list of cost options to choose from, and on our test car, this included the M Sport pack (which is actually a no-cost option) plus connected drive, automatic soft-close function for doors, a glass sunroof, sun protection glazing, lane change warning and internet connection. All that added $7100 to the price. The X6xDrive50i has a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Safety features include six airbags, stability and traction control, lane keeping monitoring, hill descent control, anti-lock brakes, cornering brake control and active headrests. There is no ANCAP rating for this vehicle, as it has not been tested.