Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson takes on the BMW X6 xDrive35d

BMW X6 | January 7th, 2010 by 54

This is Jeremy Clarkson’s bashing week on BMW cars and following his “great” X5 M review, we have another one for you, or should we …

This is Jeremy Clarkson’s bashing week on BMW cars and following his “great” X5 M review, we have another one for you, or should we say, he does?! This time, another somewhat controversial vehicle back in the day, the BMW X6, the Sports Activity Coupe, and not SAV as he calls it. And not just any X6, but rather one of our favorite ones: xDrive35d.

As seen in the previous review, the iDrive system takes a beating and to be objective, we have to agree with him. The first generation iDrive “suffers” a bit when compared to the latest nav system. Moving down his complaints list, we have the shift paddles….and again, he has a point here. We have to admit that the old school paddles seen in the M3 are far more intuitive and appropriate: one shifts down, the other shifts up.

Next item…the suspension system. Not sure about you, but we certainly like its roughness and firmness, inspires more confidence and certainly handles better in corners without having the “boat effect”.

But seriously….complaining about the amazing 3.0 liter twin-turbo diesel?


One of the best diesel engines in the BMW line-up and not only, and one we’ve been craving to see it in more U.S. spec models.

The next item on list just simply made us smile. Expecting the X6 SAC to act as a 4×4 and crawl over boulders, is just something we didn’t think we would hear. The X6  is a sport oriented vehicle craving for performance, and yes, it does give you some off-roading capabilities, but not even close to a Jeep or Range Rover. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Now, the next scene shows the X6 35d struggling to climb a hill…okay, we got the point, but easily we forget the car comes equipped with summer/performance tires that won’t do well on snow nor grass. Any xDrive system coupled with good winter or all-season tires will get the job done.

And really? Summer tires in snow, in the highest ski resort in the Alps? Well, we made that mistake ones with an E46 and we certainly won’t do it again.

As a final thought, the first BMW X6 launched prior to the recession, despite his statement.

It’s all fun though and we know what TopGear stands for these day and that’s perfectly fine, still enjoy watching the show.

54 responses to “Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson takes on the BMW X6 xDrive35d”

  1. Doug says:

    Well……. I thought that was great. I think that was of the most entertaining *and* persuasive segments they’ve ever done. Jeremy often comes across as trying to entertain at the expense of credibility, but this time he’s running on all both barrels.

    I was really suprised that it would be *that* bad in conditions that a SUV is arguably purposed for.

    And that paddle shifter nonsense… why ON EARTH would they de-standardize anything to do with vehicle-control? What if you were driving with traction and stability control turned off, and you meant to upshift rather than downshift? That would be disastrous.

    I’m sure it fantastically exceeded all expectations in terms of what it was intended to be, but… what were they thinking??

    • Giom says:

      Still, they sell like hot cakes, wich leads me to the conclusion that BMW knows their buyers. Jeremy isn’t one of them, so he woun’t be able to point out the things in this car that really excells.

      Interesting observation tho… he didn’t call it dog turd ugly.

    • Jordan says:

      I agree…. however I’d want a little more info on those tires when he did the hill test on grass and then on snow. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were summer performance tires. if that was the case it wouldn’t matter how many wheels you got driving, it would still suck. the range rover possibly had better tires? that is some very crucial info missing from the review and frankly the tires could have made all the difference.

      I do agree with a fair bit of what Jeremy said tho.

  2. badger says:

    whats the point of the X6 again?
    i mean sure , you need the right tires for the right surface and etc
    but i meant some of the stuff he says it true. Its not an off roader, but its not the best on roader SAV… SUV out there.
    Its bascially an uglier X5.

  3. Lee says:

    Jeremy Clarkson is an absolute cock and i have turned of from Top Gear 12 months ago becuase of him. He is too full of himself! Let him stick to his boring old man car Mecedes.

  4. Auday says:

    not mentioning anything about the tires is typical Clarkson he just have an opinion and he would bring any false argument to prove it, the same he did when he compared the Prius to M3 fuel efficiency.

    However, I agree with him about almost all points…. the argument that I hear usually about driving 2.5+ tons, 4×4 cars, over AWD sedan (like 535xi) are:
    – having a bigger family (uncheck for x6)
    – Needing more luggage space (uncheck for x6)
    – Oh but I have a dog (uncheck for x6)
    – I need to go off road (uncheck for x6, although it sits higher so it might be a bit better on some roads, but not much)
    – I like to drive a big car that sits high, it makes me feel better (big check for x6).

    IMO, this is the dumbest car BMW ever made, and its M version is even more non sense.

    • Babken says:

      That’s why the sales of X6 are jumping higher and higher.

    • Doug says:

      It wouldn’t matter if the tires were racing slicks. What he was demonstrating was the effects of the lack of locking or limited slip center differential which is crucial for traction on any such terrain. Having knobby tires on the X6 just means that the ONE tire getting grip is better able to push the entire vehicle.

      Tires are relevant, sure, they’re just not relevant to his point.

      • Auday says:

        Doug, I thought the torque vectoring system of the X6 is sufficient enough to act as axle diff and center diff locker? if it’s not (I know very little about it) then that’s real joke because most Jaapanese 4×4 have enough locking mechanism and it also means that a Subaru Impreza will be better off road and on snow than the X6.

        However, as most people are saying, BMW is catering for the customers taste, same as Hollywood is catering for the stupidity of it’s movies audience, and you know how this goes, it’s like a snow ball of stupidity the more the taste goes down the more the movies became worse and that makes the taste even worse and so on…
        IMO whoever wants to drive all that 2.5+ tons mass to a high speed just for the feeling of driving something big and high must have some kind of a problem.

        I would love to see some statistics on the usage of cars like this in Europe in general.

        • Doug says:

          You know, I forgot about that. But doesn’t it only act between the rear wheels? That would makes sense for handling improvement and the fact that the X6M has only RWD (afaik).

        • Doug says:

          It could at least prevent rear wheelspin, which is occuring in the video. That plus a rear-biased torque split maybe?

          What’s odd about the video is that you can’t tell what’s going on when the front *and* rear wheels are spinning — are the wheels on the far side slipping as well, and if so, why isn’t traction control kicking in?

          • auday says:

            I think it’s completely the tires issue, xDrive should handle well on snow I’ll give them that. but any car with summer performance tires will be ice skating on snow/ice even if it has 8WD :)
            it’s as simple as that if you have no grip/friction on all 4 wheels then it doesnt matter how you balance your torque.

          • Doug says:

            Yes, tires would make a night and day issue. But even with knobbies, without proper diffs, you’re limited to the traction of *one* tire and not *all* of them together. It would be interesting to compare a car with locked/LS diffs and a car with open diffs and snow tires doing these maneuvers. The RR easily got up the hill, and both cars appear to be using regular all-season tires.

          • Doug says:

            (correction: night and day *difference*)

  5. Babken says:

    BMW X6 is for people who want to reign the road while sitting high. That’s the point. I think that something is wrong with Jeremy’s senses. If he drives BMW X6 and still says that it’s ridiculous then I can surely say that he’s short of having insight into the automotive world.

    • viper says:

      the X6 is a looker , but not capable of anything except driving high on the autobahn..the Range rover is a yacht and capable of anything anywhere , he has good points , Jeremy knows what hes talking about , he usually pisses on bmw , which pisses you off…thats pretty normal

      • Babken says:

        I guess you were pissed off your mother’s belly. As for Jeremy he doesn’t like X6 at all. That’s why every time he gets an opportunity he criticizes this model. But unlike you he still considers M5 the best sports sedan.

        • viper says:

          bab , stop talknig nonsense , Jeremey has way more experience than you do , probably better looking than you , so leave your jealousy for your mom for not giving u birth earlier..or aborting you

          • wazon8 says:

            Viper, The fact is that Clarckson made a shitty test here and made a fool from himself. He took a car with performance summer tires, tried to climb on slippery grass hill and drive in snow. I heard that people in England don’t use winter tires, that’s perhaps ok since there is barely no snow and minus tempetatures in UK, but only fools drives their cars in north part of Europe without winter tires in winter. And this is exactly what Clarckson did, which showed actually how biased he was against X6! You can find links in comments below, where X6 drives in deep snow and goes off road, in both cases better than Rang Rover. If you weren’t so ignorant, you would know all these stuffs by just looking on tires which are showed for a while during snow drive test. Man, I dirve my 335i in more difficult environment and it’s RWD. But the difference between me and Clarckson is that I use winter tires to drive in snow, he doesn’t and – which is the most funny – is surpriesed that he cannot climb on simple hill. Hehehe….

          • viper says:

            it is a bit weird with that small hill , even panda could climb that…but umm you know that he a fetish with the range rover so look at it as a joke like the whole show is one big joke

  6. Matt Stokes says:

    I enjoy top gear, but pretty much every word that comes out of Clarksons mouth is ignored! He’s funny, but he contradicts himself too much, what he says on Top Gear TV programme, and what he writes in BBC Top Gear Magazine are often contradictory.

    Anyway, too all the people still jibber-jabbering about “What is the point of the X6? I like to wear sandles and eat soya beans”, “It’s not a proper off-roader” etc. etc.

    How many times do you see cars in this premium 4×4 segment actually attempting to go off road? Virtually never, people DO NOT buy these cars for their practicality, they buy them because they like big chunky cars, want to sit high-up, and have more confidence with an AWD system. EVERYBODY knows that the majority of people that buy premium 4×4’s DO NOT use them off-road, people have joked about that fact for 10 years, and guess what the manufacturers KNOW this too and and are now specifically catering for them!

    Styling is subjective, I like it, but I can appreciate that alot of people don’t.

    As far as load space goes:

    Ranked by minium load space (no folding of seats req’d) in litres-
    X5: 620
    X6: 570
    5 tourer: 500
    X3: 480
    3 tourer: 460
    5GT: 440
    X1: 420

    Ranked by maximum load space, in litres-
    X5: 1750
    5GT: 1700
    5 tourer: 1650
    X3: 1560
    X6: 1450
    3 tourer: 1385
    X1: 1350

    … So with 4 passengers it has the second best load space in the line-up, absolutley maxed, it is more practical than a 3 series tourer.

    Most reviewers have praised it’s on road performance and handling (and to be fair JC complained more about the ride, than the handling).

    … and as fas as the “there is no market for the X6 anymore” going by the recentley published US sales figures. BMW sell more X6’s than Audi do R8’s, A8’s and TT’s put together !! I don’t see anyone saying there is no market for those vehicles anymore!

    Rant Over… for now.

    • Luke Skywalker says:

      I think that when he said “there’s no market for the X6 anymore”, he was pretty well referring to the UK Market. In the UK there is a BIG backlash against 4x4s and luxury items (given how badly they’re struggling with their recession). This 4×4 and luxury tag is epitomised by BMWs and the X6 in particular. There’s even an article about the very subject in the latest Top Gear magazine.

      Here in Australia, and I guess in the US too, there’s no such problem. We still love our 4x4s and the luxury market is doing well too. (when I picked up my new beemer last month there was a long line of cars waiting to go out that same day).

      Best thing to remember about Top Gear…it’s an entertainment show. Take it all with a massive pinch of salt (e.g. how does the range rover camera car keep up with the cars racing across Europe – because the car Clarkson is driving isn’t actually speeding).

    • Giom says:

      Thats a great piece of comparo… thanks! You rant well:)

  7. joe says:

    this reminds me of the time when text msg ing thought to be an Unnecessary idea by some people, and the reason was WHY txt where you can just pick up the phone n ring right??? now we txt each other more than making phone calls. so despide all those genuine reasons i think the X6 and its kind will soon be very popular

  8. Esteves says:

    Like many here, I’m a great fan of Top Gear. But it’s just like Matt Stokes says, Jeremy is full of contradictions. The show is entertaining more than informative.

    Most of his arguments are childish in ALL of his segments. And we all know how he feels about BMW. He’d rather keep to his AMG Mercs SL and SLK… So really, there’s no point in taking him seriously.

    As for the X6 it might not make much sense, but it certainly makes a statement. And the sales prove its worthiness. It’s a niche car, but one who will most certainly be copied due to its success (like the 5 GT).

    Acura quickly launched the ZDX… How long until Audi and Mercedes step up?

    • Doug says:

      He’s not against BMWs, he’s always felt that they were overpriced and that the owners were predominantly “cocks”.

      Jeremy *does* fairly admit their strong points, perhaps mixed in with the usual diatribe and wild gesturing.

  9. wazon8 says:

    Well, I don’t have any problem with recognizing why X6 appear at all – it looks so different than other SUVs and it’s why it will find customers who will love it. Despite all complainings from journalists, sales stats show it clear that people loved the idea of X6. Personally, I think that I would buy it, if I was interested in SUVs at all. One thing stikes me – this is the best looking SUV ever made, since it has agressive line which no other SUV has. According to most journalists – however not Clarckson – it’s also best handling SUV ever, which explains why it’s not so good off-roader. But once again, it’s hard to take the faeture of not being good off-roader as vice, since SUV almost never go off-road. BTW, in his test Clarckson proved only that X6 he drove didn’t have apt tires for off-road or snow driving. Man, since New Year I drive RWD in similar snow and have no problem with climbing on road hills.

    The most funny thing is that Clarckson always bring Land Rover with him and shows how great off-roader it is. But this proves only that he has no idea about customers of SUVs. People who care about off-road characteristic of car buy something more “harsh” than SUV.

  10. Clarkson never liked BMWs anyways so Its a stupid review…the only thing i agree with is the gear shifter part. The x6 was never meant to go off road..heck BMW may not even give a shit abt how not comfortable it is..its a bimmer..they are not as comfortable as Mercs or in this case, better off roader than the Range……but nothing handles and feels better on the tarmac….thats where bimmers belong…thats why they are the ultimate driving machines and thats why we love em..SCREW every thing else.

  11. and by gear shifter i meant on the steering..the gear selector stick rocks.

  12. L1ndja says:

    here we go again the range rover :)

  13. BMfan says:

    As an owner of Land Rover Discovery 3(LR3 in the US) and later got an X6 V8, it makes no difference to me what Jeremy Clarkson says. BMW makes cars that move, stay strong in and out and turn heads. After one year of use people still tell me my car is beautiful-they all cant be wrong. If I really want an off-roader, I’ll go for a 4WD Toyota pick-up truck certainly not an RR. When I grow older and become a big shot I’ll but the real RR, employ a driver and sit at the back.

  14. Allan says:

    Hi Horatiu B. the other article you might be right. Here are the new parts of the winter! Enjoy: D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *