Test Drive: 2009 BMW X6 xDrive30d

Test Drives | October 5th, 2009 by 7
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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 …

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.

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.

bmw x6 xdrive30d 31 655x438According 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.

City Driving

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.

7 responses to “Test Drive: 2009 BMW X6 xDrive30d”

  1. mark says:

    Crazily dangerous overtaking? Crazy and dangerous, like putting other roads users lives at risk?

    • Horatiu B. says:

      No, not at all, I guess it crazy for us going at 130-140 miles an hour, on the left lane and passing the other cars. There is no crazy lane changing like here in the U.S.. So for us going that fast, it seemed a bit crazy

  2. 100$ GUY says:

    This is the exact model that sells where I live and is the main reason I just dont like it at all.
    Why? An X6 deserves a great sporty powerful engine, not that entry level one.
    USA has beautiful engine options when it comes to the X6.

    Horatiu, congrats to you for this site. I really like it. And until now I finally use the commenting option, go figure. Didnt know was that easy, thought I had to register.
    Let me ask you this: did u loved the sound of the engine? the exhaust note?
    How really was it when pushing it?
    I mean, pushing it 70-110 mph for example?
    Do u like it that much that u would prefer this one over the 35i or 50i?

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Thank you, I appreciate the kind words. Even though I drove the car less than Alex, let me share my opinion(maybe Alex will share his thoughts also): The sound engine was great, loved that diesel roar and honestly, not as loud as many would think. While I believe the engine in the 35d is even more spectacular, this one has not disappointed us. Sure, a 50i would have been great, more power, faster, but we never felt that we really needed a bigger powerplant. Honestly, that engine will do just fine in the U.S. where the top speed is anyway far more limited.

      We pushed it pretty hard and one thing we noticed was the turbo lag being a bit more obvious than in the other turbo engines we tested, but once it kicks in, it just goes.

      The exhaust note is one of the cool things on these X6s, regardless of the model.

      I would buy the 30d before the 35i due to the lower fuel consumption.

      Oh and yes, we make the commenting system easy, we never give away email addresses nor really request for a valid one. Some people prefer to leave the real one since we do get in touch with our readers from time to time, trying to maintain a close relationship.

    • Alex Vintu says:

      RE: did u loved the sound of the engine? the exhaust note?
      I agree with Horatiu, nice exhaust roar however I think I like the gasoline engine sound more than the diesel.

      RE: How really was it when pushing it? I mean, pushing it 70-110 mph for example?
      Although the 70 to 110 mpg acceleration was rather moderately fast in my opinion it did feel quicker given the weight of the car, I’m sure it accelerates from 70 to 110 faster that 3ers with smaller diesel engines.

  3. 100$ GUY says:

    Oh well, you guys are really happy and satisfied after all.
    Are there any links to full tests of these 30d version?
    Or at least the 35d….
    And yes, my email is my real one….

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