Living in the U.S. can have its perks when it comes to cars, but unfortunately many BMW models are not available for the North American market, especially the latest diesel powerplants that are getting a lot of praises from the European consumers. While attending the Frankfurt Auto Show, we decided to take on the task of driving one of these diesels, and not any diesel, but the BMW X6 xDrive30d, the entry level Sports Activity Coupe in the European market. Over a distance of 900 miles, we put the X6 xDrive30d through different driving scenarios, from urban driving to the open and exciting german Autobahn.
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Under The Hood
The X6 xDrive30d is powered by a light alloy six-cylinder in-line common-rail diesel engine with four valve technology and a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. It outputs a maximum 235 hp @ 4000rpm and a maximum torque of 427lb ft @ 2000-2750rpm.
According to official BMW numbers, the X6 xDrive30d runs from 0-62 mph in 8.0 seconds and tops out at 130mph/210kmh (137mph/220kmh with Dynamic Pack). Apparently ours did have an “improved” Dynamic Pack, as the top speed we hit was 236kmh on a downward slope on the autobahn and 228kmh on a straight line.
We picked up the car in Munich, at the BMW Welt and spent a couple of days driving in and around the city. The car was fun to drive on the streets thanks to the plentiful torque the 30d delivers making the X6 quite agile given the 2+ tones of Bavarian ingenuity. The not so fun part was parking on crowded streets or not so spacious parking garages across Munich. The front and rear-end parking sensors definitely help, but it still took us a while to get used to the cars’ imposing size and limited rear mirror view when maneuvering in tight spots. Here is where the rear-view camera stepped in to help.
The Munich city roads are in a very good condition for the most part and superior to most urban roads in the U.S., however they did help emphasize the firmness of the X6’s suspension as compared to that of a Range Rover for example.
Is it a city car? No, but it certainly does feel empowering to drive a car which aggressive looks and impressive macho design turn heads, even in Germany.
X6 On The Autobahn
The BMW X6 idea is based on the already successful X5 Sports Activity Vehicle, but what sets it apart, aside from the obvious low roof, bodywork, are the firm suspension and the addition of Dynamic Performance Control.
It is the latter that makes the X6 so special. A very clever rear differential, DPC apportions power to the rear wheels independently to improve agility, stability and traction at all times. Why is it important? It makes the X6 handle incredibly well and safely in any condition without cutting power or hitting the brakes to interfere.
The centre of gravity is lower than the X5’s, and it has a marginally wider rear track, both of which make it feel secure and planted. Never thought we would feel so secure at 100+mph in an SAV(SAC for those keeping track of these naming conventions), particularly in very curvy areas on the autobahn. The X6 body control is superb, and at high speeds, the X6 feels really stable. The firm suspension coupled with the wide 20” Bridgestones provided great road feedback at all times.
One of the few negatives is the limited view in the rear mirror due to the low roof, partly compensated by the large outside mirrors and the longer than expected time it took to slow down from high speeds due to the weight of the car which we could feel particularly when taking the exit ramps on the autobahn and entering sharp corners. On our way to Nürburg from Frankfurt, once off the autobahn we drove on some pretty twisty roads with rapid elevation changes.
How did the X6 behave?
Considering the dangerous (read crazy) overtaking, we averaged about 75-80mph on those roads, it did very well on straight lines and not so in steep corners, it did require additional braking to fight the gravitational forces for entering steeper corners. However after entering the corner and adding gradual acceleration, the grip from all for wheels and sense of security was once again back.
We did make it on time to Nürburg, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to take it to the track due to an accident that caused an early closure. That would have been the ultimate test, especially since some of us already had the chance to drive the more powerful X6 xDrive50i on a race track, but there is always next time and “its diesel brother”, xDrive35d, sounds quite appealing.
With the X6, BMW managed to create a novelty in the SAV segment, a worthy rival to the Range Rover and Porsche Cayenne, and at the same time, created a new niche in this segment, Sports Activity Coupe, an all-wheel drive vehicle with coupe-like lines and the sportiness of a smaller automobile.
Its distinctive aggressive looks, athleticism and precision implanted from other mainstream BMW models make it extremely attractive to BMW buyers and we’re sure will lure many others.