"The BMW X6 is a desirable combination of coupe, hatchback and SUV body styles, but practicality is compromised as a result."
The BMW X6 is an unusual proposition – a cross between a large, full-size SUV 4x4 and a sleek coupe. It shares its underpinnings with the much more popular BMW X5 – only with less boot capacity and reduced space in the back for passengers. The X6 has traded in that practicality in favour of more dramatic exterior styling, and is suitably sporty to drive. It will cost you’re a pretty penny to buy, though, but you can be confident that whichever model you buy, from the fast and efficient six-cylinder diesel to the V8 petrol engines, the performance and prestige that you have come to expect from BMW is guaranteed. It's just a shame the X6 isn’t actually any good off-road. There's only one specification but standard equipment improves as the list price rises. There are six engines to pick from: the entry-level 35i petrol, 50i petrol, 30d diesel, 40d, diesel, M50d diesel and the top-of-the-range M.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The most efficient engine on offer is the 245bhp xDrive 30d diesel, which offers claimed combined fuel economy of 38.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 195g/km. The fastest model, meanwhile, is the 555bhp xDrive M petrol, which accelerates from 0-62mph in only 4.7 seconds. Opt for this and you'll only get a dismal 20.3mpg in combined fuel economy and a very expensive 325g/km of CO2 – sending your annual road tax bill sky high. We’d recommend a diesel engine to ensure you make the most money back you come to sell you car in the used car market, as you can expect resale values of around 50 percent.
Interior & comfort
The X6 remains reasonably comfortable, even though the suspension is firmer than in the more practical BMW X5. Most bumps and potholes on the UK's uneven roads are suitably ironed out and very little vibration is transmitted through to the passengers inside. Insulation is also good, with little road or wind noise bothering you, even when driving on the motorway. The seats are comfortable and spacious, even though the body shape means that only two single seats can be fitted into the back of the car, but the advantage is that leg and headroom is good. The efficient, jerk-free eight-speed automatic gearbox also makes the car easy to drive.
Practicality & boot space
The X6 loses marks here because it simply fails to deliver on the massive promise of its huge dimensions by only being able to seat four. The boot also only offers 570 litres of space with the standard-fit split-fold rear seats still in place. With the back seats folded down, that expands to 1,450 litres, which is some way behind the 1,750 litres offered by the its cheaper sibling, the X5. It's also worth remembering that while the XDrive four-wheel-drive system does allow the X6 to handle muddy fields and bad weather conditions with relative ease, it isn’t actually designed for proper off-roading so, again, doesn’t live up to its exterior promise.
Reliability & safety
BMW only dropped one place in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, holding firm in the middle of the manufacturers ranking table at number 15. Not overly great news for a 'premium' manufacturer, but part of that will be BMW's focus on producing the ultimate driving machine while rivals like Mercedes prioritise luxury and comfort. The X6 itself doesn’t feature on the survey's list of top 150 cars, but as most of the parts and components, including the engines, have been tried and tested throughout the BMW range it should prove reliable. Elsewhere, the interior build quality is excellent in terms of durability, and there's only been one recall, in 2009, for rear brake discs, so generally it's a car to depend on. The X6 hasn’t gone through the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, but everything suggests it would get the full five-star rating, with a range of standard safety equipment that includes 10 airbags, electronic stability control (ESP), tyre pressure monitoring, xenon headlights and ISOFIX child seat anchor points.
Engines, drive & performance
The X6 actually handles pretty well for a car of such high and wide dimensions, especially when you consider it weighs over two tonnes. There's also less body roll than you’d expect – in fact, its accurate steering and solid grip also make the drive feel more like a sports car than a high-riding SUV. Adding the Dynamic Package further stiffens and lowers the suspension to boost the sporty handling and performance. As you’d expect from all BMWs, the engine range is great, but we’d recommend going for one of the powerful diesels. The six-cylinder 40d diesel is quite special, with its 306bhp offering more performance than you’ll probably ever need and still managing to return a not-horrific fuel economy of 37.7mpg.
Price, value for money & options
If you’re happy enough paying a couple of thousand pounds extra for a more stylish exterior design, then the X6 might seem value enough. But for most, it will be hard to justify that extra cost when it is very similar underneath and offers less interior space than the X5 – which even comes with the same engine range. Luckily, you do get a reasonable amount of standard equipment for your money, with xenon headlamps, climate control and parking sensors all included in the price – the latter of which prove to be essential with the X6's poor rear visibility. Just peruse the list of optional accessories with caution, because they’re pretty expensive and can drive the price up before you even blink - the rear entertainment screens cost a hefty £1,575, for example.