Quick Drive: BMW ActiveHybrid X6

Test Drives | January 4th, 2010 by 2
141

Back at the LA International Auto Show, I told you about taking the new ActiveHybrid 7 for a nice, but unfortunately, short drive around Los …

Back at the LA International Auto Show, I told you about taking the new ActiveHybrid 7 for a nice, but unfortunately, short drive around Los Angeles. Part of the same short test driving sessions, I had the chance to drive around ActiveHybrid X6 as well. Although, with the X6, I had a little bit more of an interesting drive.

Read on to see what I mean…

First off, the BMW X6 has been a hit or miss car. It has been very popular with most people around the world, but then there is this other group of people that might refer to it as pointless and even harsher words, hideous. It seems to be a love it or hate it sort of car which despite the initial criticism has exceeded BMW’s sales expectations. While I guess I can understand why some people may dislike the X6 for being a big SAC with not much of an off-roading personality (not what BMW intended to be anyway), along with not having a lot of useful room for being so large, but it’s still an interesting vehicle.

I love the X6 for being, plain and simple, a massive brute with sports car attributes. While it belongs to the same X-family as the X5, the X6 offers smaller passenger room. It only seats four and it doesn’t have room in the back for my German Shepherd. However, I don’t really care about that.

Quick Drive: BMW ActiveHybrid X6

BMW ActiveHybrid X6

As soon as you sit in the luxurious, yet sportively hugging seat, you feel like you’re in a regular X6. Even looking at the exterior, there is only a small badge on the lower part of the driver and passenger front doors closer to the front fenders indicating the true nature of this car. It is almost as if BMW wanted to fool you into realizing later, “Wait, I was driving a hybrid?! Get outta here…”

Because that’s exactly how I felt when I was driving “her” – Yes, giving names to my bimmers is something that unfortunately I inherited from my car enthusiasts family.

She feels like a natural sports car that could run over people and other cars that don’t get out of your way quick enough. But more on that later.

Quick Drive: BMW ActiveHybrid X6

When I first entered the ActiveHybrid X6, I was greeted by a BMW Communication Manager who just chatted me up for a second and asked me who I wrote for. I told him RawAutos, and then told him that I write occasionally for BMWBLOG. Little did I know, he is a friend to Horatiu and a fan of yours truly BMWBLOG.

But with slight disappointment in his voice, he said, “Unfortunately all of the writers who drove the ActiveHybrid X6 just wanted to see how it worked having a hybrid battery in it…So the battery is near dead. But, if you drive it in Sport mode, you will charge it up.”

I took great pleasure in first learning how the ActiveHybrid got along as a BMW. So off we went with me putting the stick into drive and then Sport mode.

At first, you really think you’re just in a nice cruiser. Then we came up to a traffic light, and I hit it!

HELLOO!

The steering is direct, at least around the busy, city streets of LA, but more so, the car feels 100% sure of itself not being a hybrid. It gives you a weird, but good feeling.

With that said, I remember saying to the BMW Communication Manager that was with me, “I feel like I could take this to the drag strip, the race track, and then drive it back home and get great gas mileage.” It is so true, of course when compared to similar size and performance vehicles.

But after about 15-20 minutes of driving the X6 Hybrid, Matt was telling me how much he appreciated me charging up the battery for him. It was roughly close to 90% fully charged. And it was only about 10% when I started driving it. It seriously took about 15 minutes of driving to get it there. So each time I had it in Sport mode, I was charging the battery. But, each time you touch the brakes, you’re also recharging the battery with 50 kW of brake energy regeneration.

The 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 really is one special engine. Not only does it bring more peak power and torque, but it also shuts off the engine and utilizes the  battery for your next start from a standstill. The V8 now churns out 480hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims the ActiveHybrid X6 to not be a slouch to 60 mph at 5.4-seconds.

There are actually two batteries that help to generate all of the extra power in the X6. There is one that provides 91hp and 192lb-ft of torque along with the other that gives 86hp and 206lb-ft of torque, respectively. one of the batteries will almost always be helping to power the car. You can also run completely on electric power, without involving the gasoline engine, at speeds up to 37 mph.

There is only one thing that makes me think this could burst most people’s bubbles; and that’s the price… $89,725. Add all of the options on the list and you will be tacking on an extra $5,450.

That brings the total to $95,175.

This is yikes to some, but after driving it, I’ve come to realize; while a lot of people out there put a price on so many things, you can’t put a price on enjoyment. Sure, nearly 100-grand is expensive, but it is a drop in the bucket in terms of how much money BMW has spent researching and developing such a fine vehicle.

Now comes the real question…..

After driving it, would I pony up the dough if I had it? The simple and straight-forward answer to it is…Yes.

Yes, I absolutely would spend that much money on this BMW. It is no standard BMW that you’re used to seeing or driving, but rather the most powerful hybrid vehicle available to buy now. Being special is not a bad thing and isn’t this something we learned from Chris Bangle’s past work?

At the price point, the ActiveHybrid X6 goes against the X6 M, another “powerful monster” that has its own fans. With this much power and perfection, it could be difficult for one to choose between the two.

It was a fantastic drive, short, but enlightening and  further extensive testing might be needed before the final conclusion could be laid down. Despite the short ride, I realize now that this is where car companies are going to be heading. This is an extremely important car and technology, not just for BMW, but for everyone.

The ActiveHybrid 7 and X6 are just the beginning, more will follow, sooner than you would believe. A 5 Series ActiveHybrid is also rumored to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and that just proves our point.

The 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 may seem like just another hybrid car, but BMW cannot afford to hurt the feelings or push away its core enthusiast customer. They live and breathe enthusiasm, and that’s why I’m glad to see a hybrid BMW that doesn’t just care about what society says.

BMW still cares about us enthusiasts who continue to live for the thrill of the drive, all of this without omitting the “green factor”.

  • Saleem

    Great article i was always weary of Hybrid cars for the increase in weight and the supposed lack of power. i see BMW has found a way to address those issues while staying true to form.

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