Last week, I managed to get my hands on the brand new BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe. Since I am quite of a diesel lover (contrary to global trend), I was enchanted to drive the 2020 BMW X6 M50d quad-turbocharged monster. As expected, I experienced a thrilling adventure in a rather controversial car that has split the fans’ opinion. You either love it or hate it, but one thing’s for sure: the X6 won’t go unnoticed.
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It’s very hard to justify the existence of the X6, since you already have the X5 which does basically the same thing at a lower price and with greater practicality. Many customers believe the X6 is simply not entirely convincing or justifiable. But the pioneer of the SAC segment is not here to save the planet nor to ensure you can load it up with luggage. The X6 is a refined motoring piece of art, it is pinnacle elegance in motion, it’s a controversial character that stirs the utmost passions.
Since the advent of the first X6 generation – the E71 – back in 2006, I have always been fascinated by this new type of car. So this test drive was the perfect time to prove to myself if this model is the real deal. I like the X5, but the X6 feels entirely special in every aspect.
Exterior styling: expressive, muscular, self-confident
Let’s begin with the exterior looks of the new BMW X6. The G06 generation has managed to better differentiate itself from brother X5. While the headlights are essentially the same, the entire aspect of the front end is unique to the X6 for both the non-M Sport and M Sport/M Performance versions. This partical X6 M50d was essentially exuding a muscular style through all its pores.
The 400 PS (or, 394 hp) Sports Activity Coupe is noticeable through its unique Cerium Grey accents, seen on the huge inverted kidney grille, the front air intake details and exterior mirror casings.
Furthermore, this 2020 BMW X6 M50d also featured the new Manhattan Grey metallic color. Together with the BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line package for the side windows ornaments, the X6 looks pretty muscular, yet perfectly balanced in attitude.
The front fascia transmits sort of a well-dosed aggressiveness, sending a clear message to all incoming traffic users. As the car was equipped with the BMW Laser headlights and the astonishing BMW Iconic Glow illuminated kidney grille, the visual effect is even more pronounced.
Continuing with the side section, the roofline of the X6 is intendedly rakish to create the visual effect of a coupe. The window line rises from the front towards the back, like hiking onto the generous rear shoulders.
The Hofmeister Kink is there, slightly reinterpreted, yet completely recognizable as a hallmark BMW design feature. Otherwise, the side profile of the new X6 is elegantly clean, with no unnecessary styling features. The side air breather for the front wheels appears to be influenced by the hockey-style design element first seen on the G11/G12 7 Series generation from 2015.
Moving towards the rear end, this was the part that I was mostly keen to see in real life as I have found it to be the weakest point in the whole design. I was not very fond of the tail lamps extending towards the centrally-placed BMW roundel, but in person, this rather controversial design exercise looks quite impressive.
The L-shape is there, more prominent than ever. When lit up, a subtle part in the styling philosophy of the rear lights is revealed. While the general outer shape is that of the L letter, the inner graphics are more versatile and can be considered to look both as a normally oriented L or an inverted one.
The tailgate area is now split into strict horizontal segments, with the license plate moving lower than at the outgoing F16 generation. Even though they are mostly nonfunctional, the air breathers placed on the rear bumper look sensational.
Combined with the huge air diffuser and the visible exhausts with trapezoid, chromed frames give a powerful message of sheer force. Furthermore, compared to F16 model series, the new 2020 BMW X6 M50d is now more visibly featured due to new placement of the logotype. The “X6” particle is moved to the left side, while the “M50d” particle is now more clearly emphasized on the right side of the vehicle, essentially highlighting the ///M emblem.
My conclusion on the looks department of the new 2020 BMW X6 M50d is rather simple: every time I passed a group of pedestrians, the car managed to turn heads. So, if you plan to sneak in somewhere, just don’t use an X6 and hope you’ll get by unnoticed. The X6 is certainly an extravagant car, not your ordinary daily vehicle.
The cabin: spacious, comfortable, refined
When opening the doors, you are greeted by a sumptuous, yet very sober interior. This particular BMW X6 M50d was specced with a full BMW Individual Merino Black leather upholstery. That means refined leather is everywhere: on the front and rear seats, door covers, central tunnel and top section of the dashboard, featuring white contrasting stitching.
The Black leather is a bit sensitive to the stains due to visible contrast. It may look nice in person, but you do need to properly care for it and make sure it stays clean all the time.
Moving on, as part of the interior customization, the chosen dashboard ornaments were the BMW Individual Fineline Black wood with aluminum inserts. These special trims add a dose of classiness and high-tech feel to the elegantly-styled digital dashboard.
The travel experience aboard the X6 M50d was a complete relaxation. I felt like at home driving the car and could barely accept the fact that eventually I would have had to take it back. I appreciated the fully electric front comfort seats, which have heating, ventilation and massage functions.
The car was also equipped with the CraftedClarity package. The perfectly carved glass adorns the electronic gear shifter, the iDrive controller, the engine start/stop button and the volume knob. The sensation you get by touching those surfaces or by simply admiring this work of art is deeply unique.
The overall shape of the dashboard stands true to BMW design, with the center console oriented towards the driver. Compared to F16 model, the G06 does away with several physical buttons, yet still remains intuitive and functional. All in all, the user experience is rather smooth – rarely, I found myself looking after a specific physical button, but managed to solve the “conundrum” quickly thereafter.
While the front, electrically-operated seats can be adjusted in terms horizontal section length, not the same can be said about the rear seats. Their horizontal part is rather short and, even for medium-height persons, this can become uncomfortable after some hours. This is quite of a big minus if you are traveling with more than one.
Obviously, there are only few points where to improve the car’s cabin and interior functionality, but I have to admit the 2020 BMW X6 M50d has a pretty compelling and attractive proposition inside it, with a decisive orientation for the driver’s needs, feelings and comfort.
I was particularly impressed by the comfortable feeling of the all-electric seats. The massage function, coupled with with the seat ventilation function really helped get into the perfect mood after some hours of driving. In addition, the Experience Modes are a must try feature aboard the new X6.
As a hint, I prefer the Wellbeing program, which sets the cabin temperature to 25 degrees Celsius, activates the whole body massage at level 3 and ventilates the front seats.
Digital experience and assistance systems
In the 2020 BMW X6 M50d, you get two fully digital screens with a diameter of 12.25 inches to serve as instrument cluster and control display, as part of the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. The 7th generation of the BMW infotainment operating system is marvelous achievement.
I really praise the clean, precise and functional design of the new digital interface. The cockpit display is well organized with just the right amount of information displayed. It is perfectly complemented by the central Control Display which as well features an uncluttered design and promises a smooth experience via intuitive operation.
The Gesture Control is now hardly a gimmick and proves to be rather natural and useful in various situation, like changing the music track, muting your audio system or turning the volume up/down. The integrated, comprehensive operation concept also relies on the touch-capacitive surfaces of the control display and iDrive controller, as well as on voice control.
I was already accustomed to the BMW OS 7.0 from the BMW 3 Series Touring. In the X6 M50d, given its high-ranging status, the infotainment system is enriched with several extra novelties, such as the specific menus for the electric seats (heating, ventilation, massaging), the Experience Modes or the several drive information displays, like the xView and driving style analysis charts.
Perfection is impossible, but right now, the BMW OS 7.0 seems just the right infotainment solution.
On the active safety side, the BMW X6 M50d was equipped with all sorts of helpful assistant, like the lane departure warning system, the evasive steering assist, the semi-autonomous assisted driving mode and the parking assistant. What’s more important is that for most of them, you can adjust the level of responsiveness and the reaction time.
At least for the lane departure warning system, it is better to just receive a slight vibration in the steering, without the need of a corrective intervention.
For the front end collision brake assist, the reaction time must be always early, with a strong braking power to be applied. As well, in the future, the assisted driving mode could be further improved. It is nice to use autonomous mode on a highway or in busy cities, but the system still needs a repetitive and rather annoying intervention from the driver, in the sense that at every 10 seconds you must grab the wheel and then let go.
In this situation, for long highway trips or when the road configuration allows, the simplest solution is to set the desired speed and let the car keep it and maintain the distance to other cars, with me taking care only of the steering wheel.
The X6 M50d: How does it feel to drive such a brute?
Well, if it’s a part that really left me amazed at the X6 M50d, then that is certainly the driving dynamics. We are talking about a car with an overall weight going past 2 tonnes and equipped with a gargantuan engine. Yet, the X6 M50d manages to act in a very agile and predictive manner, even when driven at its high-end limits.
This is a type of car that must be driven with a cold mind. One cannot rely solely on the car’s ability to sense dangerous situation and thus drive in complete madness. The 400 PS B57 six-cylinder diesel aggregate features four turbochargers, which helps the car accelerates like a rocket. From 0-100 km/h, it needs around 5 seconds and if you feel this is to slow, I invite to give it a second thought.
The X6 M50d is not a car that can be driven instinctively, as this approach could eventually be rather harmful. The high-performance M braking system is designed to harness the immense power and torque delivered by the 3.0-liter engine, yet at times, even it can struggle with the kerb weight of 2,260 kg (approx. 5,000 pounds).
In mostly all driving modes, the response times of the engine to acceleration are basically maintained within the same limits. However, in the SPORT, the madness unleashes. The 760 Nm/561 lb-ft peak torque is instantly available between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm and really makes you push the car for more. The steering sharpens up, the suspension and dampers become stiffer, the gear shifts are faster. Everything is spontaneous in the SPORT mode: you will briefly find yourself cruising at 150 km/h, then 180 km/h and easily you will go past 200 km/h.
There is something that you need to know: the 2020 BMW X6 M50d is a great car, but as well, it can push you to act crazy and reckless. Hearing the loud roaring of the engine through the audio system is a complete delight, but it certainly adds to the temptation of pushing the car to farther limits.
In the X6 M50d, driving at 130 km/h feels very normal. The almost perfect sound insulation contributes to the serene feel of driving this mad vehicle. Simply, you can’t get a sense of the actual speed of the car – that’s how smooth and effortless the X6 M50d acts when driven. This is perfectly fine for a high-performance model, but it comes with a load of responsibility. You can push the car to its most extreme limits, but at what cost?
I wonder: if the X6 M50d drives like a sheer brute, then the X6 M must really be extraordinary. It is sad that the quad-turbo diesel is going to be dropped from the range, so no M50d models from 2021 onwards in the BMW portfolio. Knowing how great the X6 M50d performs, it only makes it even sadder.
Is the 2020 BMW X6 M50d worth the money?
Well, it depends. If you expect it to be a practical or frugal choice, then look elsewhere. The 2020 BMW X6 M50d won’t look after your budget and won’t save you from frequent trips to fuel stations, as consumption most likely never goes below 10.0 liters/100 km (23.5 mpg), even when you drive like a granny.
But if you are willing to take your chance on a car that will simply blow your mind and transform you into a crazy speed addict, then go for it.
Of course, the X6 M50d is more than just a high-performance vehicle, but giving its niche status, such a car can only be sensed and understood when driven with care, passion and responsibility. The quad-turbocharged X6 model is yet another proof that the era of fascinating cars might come to an end in the next years.
If you have the money and you are prepared to undergo a complete transformation, then grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can guarantee the X6 M50d won’t disappoint you.
The new BMW X6 M50d is the type of car that must be profoundly treated with respect. There is so much power roaring underneath the engine hood that it simply makes it look ridiculous, in the good sense. Such a car should not be missed by a BMW enthusiast, no matter how controversial it might feel.
The Bavarian are well known for their daring visions and exercises and the X6 M50d is one of them. A very special vehicle, which from a price point perspective it might be relevant for only a few, select clients. As long as it sticks around, it would be quite a shame if you didn’t take it out for a ride.
SET 1 – Underground car parking
SET 2 – On the mountain roads (I)
SET 3 – The forest in the town
SET 4 – On the mountain roads (II)
SET 1 – Park’n’Ride