BMW X6 (2015) First Drive

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The second generation BMW X6 has been launched onto the South African market, and we attended its local launch in Mpumalanga. The BMW X6 is something of an oddity in the motoring world. Despite its quirky looks, the vehicle has been popular with around 250 000 units sold globally since 2008. The new model is now here, and is being targeted at the Chinese, US and European markets mainly.

What's New?

Visually the new BMW X6 is differentiated by sportier lines, a more aggressive front and re-designed tail lights being the stand out features. There's no shortage of sportiness as the standard wheel size is 19", with optional 20" units certainly looking the part.

In terms of engineering and technology, the new BMW X6 features revised aerodynamics, an automatic tailgate as well as an embedded SIM card for BMW-related communication like servicing and roadside assist. This forms part of the innovative BMW ConnectedDrive package. The new BMW X6 also benefits from all the latest technology seen on BMW models, such as Driving Assist Plus, Surround View and so on. The xDrive50i's engine receives some tweaks which claimed to improve economy by as much as 22%.

The interior gains a number of improvements, such as the increased list of standard features as well as an all-new rear seat setup. Things like leather trim, bi-xenon headlights, automatic tailgate, 8-speed Steptronic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles, two-zone climate control and BMW ConnectedDrive are fitted as standard equipment.

The Range

There are four models to choose from. The new BMW X6 range starts with the xDrive35i, with the tried-and-tested six-cylinder turbo petrol engine. That engine's good for 225 kW and 400 Nm. Then there's first of the diesels - the xDrive40d which has 230 kW and 630 Nm. Having sampled this engine in the BMW X5 40d, I can say this is probably the pick of the range, if you're a sensible person that is.

The BMW X6 is not about sensible though. The owner of the X6 is an extrovert and wants to show off, and there are two engines for that. How does a 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8 petrol grab you? With 330 kW and 650 Nm, the xDrive50i is a monster which is capable of 0-100kph in under 5 seconds. That's properly fast. The next engine is the flagship diesel M50d. It has three turbochargers and despite its capacity of just 3.0-litres, it's still able to perform admirably well. There's 280 kW and 740 Nm to play with, making it a spirited performer, but not at the expense of economy.

The Launch

The launch of the BMW X6 took us into the heart of Mpumalanga. We arrived in Nelspruit and set off in the direction of Graskop/Hazyview and Hoedspruit. The open roads with the typical fast, sweeping curves were in fairly good nick and the two X6 models on offer handled surprisingly well. The two models available to sample were the xDrive50i and the M50d, and I opted for the petrol model first. The 50i makes overtaking a simple affair, and if you're up for it, provides a very entertaining drive. It's difficult to imagine a two-ton sports SUV being driven aggressively, but the X6 is deceptively agile. The M50d is no less entertaining and all that torque turns overtaking and in-gear acceleration into a grin-inducing event.

Our launch route also included some thickish sand and gravel, and while some two-wheel drive vehicles would have battled, the X6 with its xDrive all-wheel drive system acquitted itself well. xDrive is clever and the system sends power to the axle which has the most grip meaning offroad excursions in the X6 are possible.

BMW X6 Price in South Africa

The BMW X6 range consists of four models. These are base prices and the X6, like all BMW products, can be customised to suit your needs.

X6 xDrive35i            R947 500 X6 xDrive40d           R1 052 500 X6 xDrive50i            R1 163 000 xDriveM50d             R1 327 000