"Spectacular to look at and impressive to drive, the X6 is a crazy combination of coupé, hatchback and SUV body styles. BMW's premium image gels these disparate ingredients, but it's still a crazy machine!"
The BMW X6 is a cross between a coupe and a full-size SUV. Based on the popular X5, it sacrifices boot and rear passenger space for more dramatic styling and is even sportier to drive. It's not cheap to buy, but whether you go for fast and economical six-cylinder diesel or either the six or eight-cylinder petrol engines, performance and the prestige that goes along with the BMW badge is guaranteed.
For a car so tall and wide and weighing over two tonnes, the X6 handles brilliantly. Accurate steering, lots of grip and less body roll than you’d expect adds up to a driving experience that has more in common with a sports car than an SUV. If you want to boost the sporty handling even further a Dynamic Package adds stiffened and lowered suspension. As with all BMWs the engine range is excellent, but our choice is the six-cylinder 40d diesel. With 306bhp and 600Nm or torque is has more performance than you’re ever likely to need and still returns impressive fuel economy of 37.7mpg.
While it's suspension is stiffer than the more practical X5, the X6 still isolates the occupants from uneven road surfaces, as well as wind and road noise when you’re on the move. Because of the unusual bodystyle only two individual rear seats can be accommodated in the rear – but they are still comfortable and spacious enough for two adults on a long journey. The smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox not only makes the car easy to drive, but delivers a jerk-free journey for the passengers, too.
The iDrive dial on the centre console that controls the satellite navigation, telephone, stereo and other media is complicated, but even that has proved reliable, having been improved and updated in different BMW models. Elsewhere in the interior the build quality is second to none in terms of durability. One recall in 2009 concerning rear brake discs, affected the X6, but generally it's a car to depend on.
This is where the X6 stops making sense. Despite its massive exterior dimensions it only seats four and the 1,450-litre boot capacity with the seats down trails the 1,750-litre capacity of the cheaper X5. Although not designed for extreme off-roading, the XDrive four-wheel drive system allows the X6 to deal with muddy fields and adverse weather conditions easily.
Value for money
It might have similar underpinnings and less space inside, but the X6 will cost you around £2,000 more than an X5 with the same engine – the price you pay for a more stylish design. However, there's no shortage of standard kit, with xenon headlamps, climate control and a parking sensors all included in the price – the latter are essential given the BMW's poor rear visibility. Be warned though, there is a huge list of expensive options – such as the £1,575 rear entertainment screens – and the cost can soon add up.
Combined fuel economy of 38.2mpg for the entry-level 30d diesel is excellent for a car of this size, while the 555bhp X6M will only return 20.3mpg and emits 325g/km of CO2. A diesel engine is your best but when it comes to trading-in your car, as you can expect residual values of around 50 percent.