What are you driving?
You can't miss it, can you? It's the latest BMW X6, one of those so-called 'SUV coupes' (not that BMW uses that term, but its 'Sports Activity Coupe' tag is no better). The thing is, while there are plenty of outspoken haters of the X6, and indeed the whole genre, these cars are clearly liked by enough actual buyers for it to make commercial sense to keep producing them. This 2020 X6, for instance, is the third generation, while Mercedes, Audi and even Porsche have all followed the lead of BMW with their own take on the idea.
Anyway, back to the car at hand. The new X6 in Ireland is offered in Sport and M Sport grades for the xDrive40i petrol and xDrive30d diesel models, along with the X6 M50i and X6 M50d 'M Performance Vehicles', which get their own specification based on the M Sport package. Our test car is the X6 xDrive30d M Sport.
In standard trim, that would normally be €97,405, but BMW Ireland has loaded this vehicle with some €23,000 of options. The good news is that most of that is unnecessary (€1,939 on a leather instrument panel, anyone?) and the X6 is well-equipped as standard, even including air suspension and adaptive damping.
For the record, this third-generation X6 is wider and longer than its predecessor, with more length in the wheelbase, too, though it's a little lower, to give it a brawnier stance. The interior space is therefore improved and, while it's nowhere near as capacious as the X5, it's still a big car with plenty of room on board and a large boot.
Name its best bits
All X6s benefit from BMW's latest infotainment tech and dashboard design. Now, we don't love the digitally rendered instruments, but the rest of it is superb, and it's backed up by tangibly high material quality. This conspires with the elevated seating position to make you feel like you've spent your money on a prestige SUV that's considerably above average in the grand automotive scheme of things.
And while the X6 doesn't feel as good on the road as, say, a BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, it's more capable than most people will ever discover. We experimented with all the driving settings on our challenging mountain test road and concluded that, actually, it's all best left in its default Comfort mode, perhaps with the excellent transmission shifted over to its Sport setting for improved response when required. The Sport driving mode takes from the ride comfort without noticeably improving body control, but the suspension does a good job of containing the movements of the chunky 21-inch rims, even in its default setting. On top of that, the 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine (it has a single turbo with variable geometry) has so much lowdown and midrange torque that you never need to extend it to make indecent progress.
Anything that bugs you?
Drive the X6 as if you're in a hurry, or indeed just in urban crawl, and you'll discover how thirsty a 3.0-litre engine can be, even one fuelled by diesel. To do better than 10 litres/100km you'll need to be using the motorway a lot, with cruise control turned on. Its adaptive cruise control works well. We'd like to see BMW's Integral Active Steering system standard-fit here, too. That's the company's term for four-wheel steering, where the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds (to aid manoeuvrability when parking and agility in town or cornering) and in the same direction at higher speeds (helping stability during lane changes, for example). Previous experience with the system suggests it would be a wise addition to the X6, but it's a €1,146 option. Speaking of which, the X6 marks the debut of the illuminated kidney grille (or 'Iconic Glow' in BMW-speak), priced at €698. No thanks...
And why have you given it this rating?
I don't personally like the look of the new BMW X6. If I had €100,000 to spend on a big BMW SUV, I'd take the excellent X5 every day of the week. If I really wanted an SUV-coupe with diesel power, then I'd look long and hard at the Audi Q8 and Mercedes GLE Coupe instead. After all, this niche is completely driven by style and personal taste, right? Nonetheless, image aside, there's no doubting that the BMW X6 is an accomplished and high-quality product and those that like its appearance are buying a polished car.