Overall rating: 4/5
The BMW X6 has always been a car that you cannot help but have an opinion on, but whatever it is there's no denying that the new model is an incredibly competent all-rounder, and also, despite its many detractors, a sizeable commercial success.
In the Metal:
BMW's X6, by definition, is a statement. How you interpret it is down to you, but it's never anything but an extrovert. Proportionally less so in this second-generation series though, as its overall shape is more resolved and less obviously squat around the rear, more lithe in its profile with a lower boot line. Where it counters is with its surfacing; park a new BMW X6 alongside the old car and the differences are immediate - and not entirely successful to these eyes. The bolder swage line, more complex surfaces on the flanks, allied with the 'blades' cut out of the wings make it a busier, if more aerodynamically efficient, form. The most jarring detailing is around the rear wings, a prominent arch rising up and over the rear wheel, visually lengthening the X6, but the rear looks overly fussy.
The interior by contrast is a demonstration of clear, functional design, intuitive, familiar controls, fine material and build quality. The seats, M Performance leather and Alcantara covered as tested, are comfortable and supportive up front, while two rear seat passengers, sitting on a 40/20/40 layout, are reasonably accommodated, though foot room under the seats isn't good. If you want a more accommodating X car then there's the BMW X5, plus its boot is more practically sized and shaped.
With its ability to reach 100km/h from rest in 5.2 seconds you might think that the engine dominates the driving experience. It doesn't; while the 3.0-litre in-line turbocharged six-cylinder is unquestionably a central part of the X6 M50d's appeal, it's the big SUV's remarkable agility that really surprises.
Four suspension set-ups are offered in the X6, and this M Performance developed model comes with its own chassis and steering tweaks, Performance Control incorporating torque vectoring and active roll stabilisation, which only add to the X6's physics-defying ability in the bends. The steering, while devoid of any feel, is quick and accurate, the X6's nose as faithful to input as many sports cars', while the four-wheel drive and that torque vectoring systems appropriate drive to where it's best needed, enabling quite sensational cornering prowess. That roll stabilisation only adds to the ability to barrel into bends with huge speed, and the X6's poise and pace in extreme cornering is matched with a ride quality that's remarkable given its obvious sporting focus.
While the engine might play the supporting role, it too over delivers. There's the tiniest delay in translation from your foot to the forceful gathering of speed, though the reward is worth the slight wait, and the six-cylinder unit even sounds pleasingly sporting when it's pushed. Keep the revs lower and it's all but silent in operation, likewise, the eight-speed automatic is never anything but slick in its shifts, whether you're doing so via paddles or leaving it to its own devices.
As ever there's the ability to adjust settings via the Driving Experience Control switch, giving the options of Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Sport offers additional configuration possibilities by separating the powertrain and chassis options should you require the more accurate suspension set up, without the rev- and gear-holding intensity of the Sport-enabled powertrain option. With the exception of the Eco Pro mode - with its eco-pursuing lazy accelerator response and chastising instrumentation - the X6 M50d is a hugely rapid, incredibly composed and capable high-performance SUV.
What you get for your Money:
Already an expensive, indulgent choice BMW offers all sorts of additional equipment on top of the admittedly lengthy standard specification list. There's the possibility to add things like a head-up display, night vision and all sorts of other extras that'll add little to the overall ownership experience but make an even more significant dent in your bank balance.
The new BMW X6 line-up starts at €84,780 for the X6 30d SE.
This range-topping diesel model will account for mere single digit sales in Ireland, if that, its Band E emissions and high list price counting against it. The sheer frivolity and indulgence of something so wantonly extrovert and impractical will appeal to some, but they'll need deep pockets to buy it, even if real-world fuel consumption of around 8.0 litres/100km should be possible if you're careful.
It is difficult to be overly critical of the new BMW X6, as it has an appeal all of its own. If you don't like that, buy an X5, or something else, as the X6 is a relatively unique proposition. Here in range-topping X6 M50d it's also incredibly rapid and agile, though its lesser relations are certain to offer similar, if not quite as intense, a driving experience. And if you're the sort to whom the X6 appeals, then it's more than likely you'll want the best one. And it's difficult to argue against the X6 M50d as being exactly that.