By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG AutoBild via BMWBlog
HOW many sub niches can a car company possibly entertain?
BMW’s brought us the X6 – it’s bulbous form’s a stretch for many Bimmerphiles, to be sure. And now the 5er GT, a useful concept at creating a luxurious chariot for long distance cruising.
But a 3-Series GranTurismo? Really?
Bear in mind, that for those who likes hatches – there’s already the 1er 5-door on sale in Europe.
Is GT just that moniker which will replace the old “Touring” “Estate” or “Station Wagon” tags?
It seems like auto makers are at pains to call stretched five door versions of their sedans as anything but…I challenge you to think of a m.y. ’10 car (other than a Volvo) that’s referred to as a “wagon”.
If rumors prove true, and those Auto Bilders are right, matters in Munich may just be slipping out of hand.
Remember the core, BMW!
THREADING this 2 ½ ton “sports activity coupe” through sharp esses we flash on surrealist elephants.
Surrealism and pachyderms and the BMW X6? Huh?
The X6’s got some elephantine proportions. And in “Vermillion red metallic” a.k.a. “bordeaux” – the beast provides the driver a hugely surreal experience while running at triple digit speeds.
Let that register whilst I explain that when disconnected from what you thought was reality (heavy + big = slow & plodding), your mind wanders into probing the far reaches of what is possible; like, for instance, contemplating a dreamy sequence where elephants roam a desert landscape on lanky legs tall enough to give a giraffe vertigo.
Muchas gracias por la visual inquietante, Sr. Dali.
In case you missed it: the X6 is a powerful elephant suspended in air by stilts.
‘Nuff said? No todos.
Tightly coupled axles torque vector you into and out of corners. A handy display in the instrument cluster shows the transfer in more or less real time – keep your eyes on the road!
Select sport mode and the Active Steering makes for tighter inputs yielding righter angles of approach.
By any SUV/crossover/thing-it-mobile standard, the X6’s handling capabilities are lunar in scope.
But if despite this great performance you’re still feeling like you’re sitting in a plush box seat looking down at the action rather than in the orchestral pit, well, that’s only because you are!
The X6 jiggles and wiggles high on its shocks when swapping one curve for the next. That said, lean and dive are well controlled in instances such as panic breaking or rough right-left inputs.
As you might’ve gathered by now, this isn’t the inline six 300 horsepower flavor (xDrive35i) but rather the twin-turbo V8 – 400 horsepower with 450 lb-ft of torque (xDrive50i).
The powerplant’s the kind of peacemaker that makes super human feats possible and tends to blend scenery in Trekian fashion.
In step with the magnificent motor is the X6’s STEPTRONIC transmission, a six-speed muse, a master interpreter that knows that when you paddle shift up or down, you mean right now. It’s an extension of your will, if you will.
Nought to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. That’s two tenths behind the 750Li a sedan that’s got the same engine but is 700 pounds lighter. In fact, you feel no difference and at no point could your average 7 break away.
That said, a note for improvement. In fast but brief exercises the big V8 generates big heat and you can’t help but notice how long the secondary fan’s forced to run long after the action’s over.
Turn off the car, walk away, come back after a few minutes and it’s still hot and bothered, it’s metals pinking away.
As for MPG, the elephant’s fairly thirsty, though 16 mpg average is better than the much smaller M3’s 13 mpg.
Approach and you’ll find another non sequitor – the next to useless polka-dotted running boards. Built more for visual effect but sure to crud up your cuffs come wintertime, they’re not much good.
Now to the heart of the matter: substance?
This is BMW’s Aztec, say the X6’s detractors. We’ve strayed from the path of lean efficiency and into the heart of glutinous deceit!
What happened to making lithe little coupes and sedans go round corners faster than sports cars?
And why buy an SUV that can’t even go off-road, haul a small yacht, or carry furniture plus room for seven?
I’ll address these points directly.
If what BMW means to you is lean and mean – then my friend – those days are gone. You’re best off buying a Porsche.
The skinny days of the 2002 are gone- but never dead to those who seek to relive them in pristine examples.
The X6 belongs to today’s indifferent market. And in an aesthetic and functional sense, this SUV represents a better interpretation of sport utility for BMW than the boxy X5. BMW’s not about GMC style haulers. It’s not about cargo capacity.
The car embodies having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too lifestyle. Go ahead and hate those bulbous, flame surfaces, BMW may just be onto something.
Curiously, I’ve wavered between loathing it, to not liking it, to accepting it, to not liking it – again.
However, if curbside impressions are anything to go by, the X6 is a hit.
Time and again people approach wide eyed and interested to learn about this new-to-them Bimmer.
“This isn’t the X5.” An inquisitive cyclist asks.
No, it’s not. It’s the X6.
“It’s different!” He says, peddling off.
“What’s it got for power?” A construction worker asks.
All that you can handle.
“It’s the perfect family car!” A forty-something onlooker at a strip mall dreams aloud.
The kids will definitely fit better than adults in the back, such is the slope of the roof. Though they’ll fight over the single rear screen with six-disc DVD player (there’s another six disc changer up front).
Rev the engine to fuel his dream.
They’ve all got a point.
The broad stance, large nostrilled grille, and tall rims endow the X6 with a road-going swagger that nothing else this side of a HUMMER can muster and certainly nothing else comes close in the crossover market.
Lexus RX anyone? Acura MDX? Mercedes R-Class?
And let’s return to the underlying point here. The elephant is faster past 100mph than the Chevy Camaro SS. In strict, hypothetical terms, where the Camaro seems winded at 125 the X6 (5.0) is clawing to 140.
Amazing power. What’s more, it’s better planted on the road than the super Chevy in all instances.
Could it be faster? Sure.
The X6 M steps in with its gaudy aero kit to fit that ludicrous bill with 500 bhp. But in such a form, we start to find the limits of cohesion in both what M-powers an M-badged Bimmer and what makes a “Sports Activity Coupe” useful.
Not that the X6is an efficient use of space. It’s pointedly not.
Rear legroom, headroom, and storage are limited due to the reclining roof line. But it works for a couple on a roadtrip in the country with a fair amount of luggage. It works rather nicely, actually.
Speaking of long-distance cruising potential, the front seats are so cushy, supportive, and infinitely adjustable and their view over the road so prime that you never really want to leave them even when you’ve arrived.
Part of the problem might also be that ingress and egress into this high cabin is a bit clumsy. Remember those running boards are next to useless.
So to recap.
If you don’t like the look of this beast, you’re probably not going to write the as-tested $85K cheque needed to acquire an off-the-rack copy. It’s expensive, bulky, and, if we’re honest, a little silly.
If your needs verge on the surreal blend of performance and pseudo-utility, you need look no further. The X6’s your elephant.
Editorial note: BMW, NA provided the car, insurance, plus a tank of premium for this review.
Somehow, both of these BMWs perform similarly.
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG BMW, NA
SAVING weight, they say, is the key to performance.
Ask Colin Chapman. Lotus’ forthright founder knew the advantages of trimming little extras like seat padding better than anyone in order for his lean ‘n mean sports cars to not only launch like Patriots but corner like Sidewinders.
That said, consider two models in the BMW family.
One, the 750Li sedan (which your correspondent tested in the spring)…
…and the other – the X6 xDrive50i crossover (or “Sports Activity Coupe” if we must).
Both share the same 400 horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine that spools a maximum 450 lb-ft of torque in a chart curve that stays reassuringly flat.
The 7-Series is the “lighter” car at 4,641 lbs and meets less wind resistance at 0.31 cd. The X6, by comparison, weighs a portly 5,261 lbs and cuts through the air at 0.37 cd.
BMW lists the 750Li’s 0-60 time at 5.2 seconds. The X6’s specs? Five point three.
That’s a 0.1 second difference despite the fact that the X6 is 620 lbs heavier. Not to mention beefier. Granted the game probably changes at even 70 mph – when the 7er doubtless pulls away. But still…
How can this be? Was Sir Colin wrong all these years on? Can mere weight be overcome by enough boffin-sourced technical tweaking?
Simply put, this performance claim demands a new test.
Cool graphics. Lousy V.O. work.
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG still from BMW TV | WATCH VIDEO
I’VE botched my fair share of Voice Overs.
On the wrong day, the mike records my chatter like its coming from a guy who’s either a) bored, b) inebriated, or c) wired-for-sound; “WHAT?!? SOFTER?!??”
I try to remember key things that they say you should do in V.O.’s, like speaking from your diaphragm and not through your nose, maintaining a straight posture, you know, common sense stuff like that.
Something tells me, however, that in this X6 ActiveHybrid promotional video produced for BMW, the V.O. guy is either a) constipated, b) holding back a righteous beer belch, or c) doing the worst impression of Mr. Peterman from Seinfeld I’ve heard in all my years.
It goes beyond either parody or the pale… and how is it that no one at BMW marketing caught this? Too bad, because the video – particularly the graphics – is an excellent production otherwise.
I reported. You decide.
Wait just one progressively active moment. If Saab is somehow forced to domesticate its 9-3 from fastback to everyday sedan, what then excuses BMW from designing the 5-Series based PAS?
PAS, a cute acronym for “Progressive Activity Sedan,” is the latest in the Roundel’s litany of over-conceptualized niche vehicles which include the X3 baby ute and the X6 crossover (which yours tried rationalizing).
This might just really take the cake as CAR mag complains:
“Brace yourself for more weirdness from the Bavarians, who are readying a strange 5-series-on-stilts niche model dubbed Progressive Activity Sedan for launch in the middle of 2009.
Caught here by our scoop photographers in Germany, the PAS is based on the engineering architecture of the next-gen 5-series Touring, but with a 60mm taller roofline and a fastback rear end, clearly visible under the black disguise masking the back of this prototype.”
The closest facsimile I cant think of to this – this – thing is Subaru’s Outback sedan. Or something French.
Do we like it? PAS du tout.