BMW has revealed a second generation version of the strong selling X6, the up-market coupe-like SUV that pioneered a new and lucrative market niche when it was launched in 2008.
Set to make its public premiere at the Moscow motor show in August, the latest in a long line of new BMW models revealed in recent months is planned to go on sale in Australia later this year with an initial choice of three engines.
Despite a significant rise in standard equipment levels, including bi-xenon headlights, 19-inch alloys, automatic tailgate operation and an eight-speed automatic gearbox transmission with steering wheel shift paddles, prices are not expected to increase much on the outgoing first generation model, which starts at $107,107 plus on-road costs for the entry level xDrive30i .
Despite a slow start in the midst of a global financial downturn, the first generation X6 has proven highly successful. Driven by strong demand in China, North America and Russia, global sales have now surpassed 250,000 – an annual average of over 40,000 throughout its six-year production cycle, according to BMW.
The new X6, known internally under the codename F16, has been comprehensively re-engineered in a joint development program with the recently introduced third-generation X5, alongside which it will continue to be produced at BMW’s factory in South Carolina, USA.
The styling of the new SUV has been progressed in an evolutionary approach that sees it retain a similar silhouette to the model it replaces and familiar features such as a large liftback tailgate. Distinguishing touches include a bolder front end with a more prominent kidney grille and angular headlamps that sit hard up against the chrome surround of the grille to emphasis width.
A heavily contoured front bumper, which features so-called air curtain ducts on the lower outer edges, channels air through the front wheel houses to an air blade duct sited behind the front wheel arches to improve aerodynamic efficiency and provide the new X6 with a 0.32 Cd – an improvement on the older model’s 0.33 Cd .
The body of the new SUV receives a more structured look than its predecessor, with added contouring within the bonnet, a more pronounced shoulder line and an added feature line over the rear wheel arches – the clearly aimed at providing it providing it with visual ties to the smaller and cheaper X4.
The second-generation X6 has grown slightly over its predecessor, but not as much as earlier disguised prototypes of the new SUV had suggested. At 4909mm in length, 1989mm in width and 1702mm in height, it is 34mm longer, 4mm wider and 12mm higher than the first generation X6.
As a reference, Mercedes-Benz suggests the upcoming production version of the Concept Coupe SUV revealed at the recent Beijing motor show will stretch to 4935mm in length, 2044mm in width and 1739mm in height, making it larger in every external dimension than the new BMW.
Despite the moderate increase in external dimensions, the X6 now boasts a smaller footprint than before. At 1933mm, the wheelbase has been reduced by 2mm. The front track is also 5mm narrower at 1640mm. The rear track is up, but only by 1mm according to BMW’s own figures at 1706mm.
The floorpan continues with high tensile steel, but BMW has provided the body of the new X6 with an aluminium bonnet and composite plastic front fenders. With other weight saving measures, including a magnesium dashboard carrier, the new model hit the scales 10kg below that of the old model at 2065kg in the lightest of the three launch models, the xDrive30d, despite the higher equipment levels.
Inside, the new BMW receives a newly styled dashboard, more heavily contoured seats and luxurious trims – much of which is shared with the latest X5. Features such as black panel instruments, a free standing monitor up to 10.8 inches, brushed aluminium highlights and a range of oak wood applications aim to provide the new X6 with a more up-market feel than the existing model.
Boot space has increased, but only modestly. At 580 litres, the new X6 offers 10 litres more luggage capacity underneath its cargo blind than its predecessor with its newly configured 40:20:40 rear seats in place. Capacity increases to a copious 1525 litres, or 75 litres more than before, with the seats folded and stowed. An optional trailer coupling now comes with a swiveling ball head, allowing a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes.
BMW has revealed three engines for the new X6 – one petrol and two diesels, although officials at its Munich headquarters in Germany confirm at least two further powerplants will be added to the line-up following the initial sales wave.
All engines are mated to a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox featuring a common 3.154:1 final drive ratio and BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system that can be enhanced with a Dynamic Performance Control option that adds an electronically controlled torque vectoring function for added traction.
Crowning the line-up at launch will be the xDrive50i running a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 direct injected petrol engine. Typically not a big seller in Australia, it now packs 30kW and 50Nm more than before, with 330kW and 650Nm of torque at 2000rpm.
This is sufficient to propel the new 2170kg range topping X6 from 0 to 100km/h 0.6sec faster than its predecessor at 4.8sec. Top speed continues to be limited to limited 250km/h, but with a range of new fuel saving features, including a electro-mechanical steering system in place of the older hydraulically operated set up used before, combined cycle consumption has improved by 2.8L/100km at an official 9.7L/100km, while CO2 emissions have also dropped from 292g/km to 226g/km.
Among the initial pair of diesels being made available for the X6 is BMW’s widely used turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder. It provides the new X6 xDrive30d with 10kW and 20Nm more torque than before, with 190kW and 560Nm at 1500rpm. This translates into a 0-100km/h time that has improved by 0.7sec at 6.7sec, a 10km/h higher top speed at 230km/h, a 1.4L/100km improvement in combined cycle consumption at 6.0L/100km and CO2 emissions that are cut by 52g/km at an impressive 159g/km.
Rounding out the line-up is the 2185kg X6 M50d, which receives the same triple-turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel as its predecessor. With 280kW and a stout 740Nm of torque at 2000rpm, it now possesses a 0-100km/h time of 5.2sec and limited 250km/h top speed along with combined cycle consumption that has improved by 1.1L/100km at 6.6L/100km, endowing it with average CO2 emissions of 174g/km.
In early 2015, BMW plans to add successors to the xDrive 35i and xDrive40d to the new X6 line-up. The former is planned to receive an updated version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder direct injection petrol engine boasting the same 225kW as the outgoing model, while the latter runs a more heavily tuned version of the xDrive30d’s turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel engine with an added 5kW at 230kW.
BMW is already talking up the dynamic properties of the new X6, suggesting it improves on the already impressive on-road traits of predecessor. It is underpinned by a newly developed aluminium intensive chassis featuring a combination of double wishbones up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. A reduction in unsprung masses are claimed to provide added agility and improved response.
Buyers can choose between three packages: Comfort, Dynamic and Professional – all featuring adaptive damping control. The new electro-mechanical steering system comes as standard with Servotronic speed sensing assistance but can be upgraded to include an Active Steering option that automatically adjusts the ratio to speed.