BMW X6 review

Category: Coupe SUV

The X6 coupé SUV is good to drive with an interior that’s one of the best in the business

BMW X6 M Competition front right driving
  • BMW X6 M Competition front right driving
  • BMW X6 M Competition rear cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior dashboard
  • BMW X6 M Competition boot open
  • BMW X6 M Competition infotainment screen
  • BMW X6 M Competition right driving
  • BMW X6 M Competition front cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition front cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition rear cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition front right static
  • BMW X6 M Competition left static
  • BMW X6 M Competition grille detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition alloy wheel detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition rear badge detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition front interior
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior front seats
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior back seats
  • BMW X6 M Competition front seat detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition front right driving
  • BMW X6 M Competition rear cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior dashboard
  • BMW X6 M Competition boot open
  • BMW X6 M Competition infotainment screen
  • BMW X6 M Competition right driving
  • BMW X6 M Competition front cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition front cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition rear cornering
  • BMW X6 M Competition front right static
  • BMW X6 M Competition left static
  • BMW X6 M Competition grille detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition alloy wheel detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition rear badge detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition front interior
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior front seats
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior back seats
  • BMW X6 M Competition front seat detail
  • BMW X6 M Competition interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Finding a truly unique car is rare, but the BMW X6 used to be just that. When the original version was launched, we'd never seen a vehicle that combined a chunky SUV body with the kind of sleek, sloping roofline you’d usually see on a sporty coupé.

The X6's coupé SUV concept divided opinion from the start, and while it's now in its third generation, it continues to do so today. To some people it's a car that simply makes no sense because it’s more expensive and less practical than the BMW X5 it’s based on. To others, its blend of function and form makes it very desirable.

What’s clear, though, is that there are enough coupé SUV fans out there for the X6 to have become a trend-setter, with a host of manufacturers now selling rivals. The Audi Q8 and Mercedes GLE Coupé for example both owe their existence to it, as do the Porsche Cayenne Coupé and Range Rover Velar.

Just how good is the latest BMW X6 though, and how does it compare with the best coupé SUVs? Read on to find out...

Overview

The BMW X6 is a well-rounded coupé SUV that's one of the most entertaining cars in its class to drive and is available with a range of truly fantastic engines. Meanwhile, the interior is as easy to use as it is beautifully built, and it’s spacious enough, despite those sweeping exterior lines. Factor in a competitive price tag and the X6 truly is one of the most alluring coupé SUVs on sale. The 30d diesel is the best option.

  • Plush interior that features class-leading infotainment
  • Impressive handling
  • Well-equipped
  • Some rivals are more spacious
  • Firm edge to ride
  • Some options are pricey
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Mechanically, the BMW X6 offers a slightly different range of engines to its more sober-looking X5 stablemate.

While both offer two diesels, the X6 can be had with an xDrive40i petrol that’s unavailable on the X5. However, only the X5 can be had as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Performance fans will look towards the M60i and M Competition.

The petrol engine line-up opens with the xDrive40i, which we've yet to sample in the X6, but impressed us in earlier versions of the X5. We have driven the twin-turbocharged V8 M60i and it delivers effortless pace, producing 523bhp to thrust the X6 from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds. 

The flagship 617bhp M Competition revs a bit more ferociously and dispatches the same sprint in 3.9 seconds. That's simply staggering acceleration for such a big SUV. The four-wheel-drive system helps deliver its power effectively, and the M Competition version also has the ability to switch to a rear-biased "4WD Sport" setup to help it feel more lively.

The six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine of the xDrive30d is our pick of the range though. It's beautifully smooth, provides tonnes of punch low down in the rev range and is noticeably more responsive than the equivalent Audi Q8 50 TDI.

In fact, the xDrive30d is so good that we don’t think you need to step up to the more expensive xDrive40d, which – despite having an extra 54bhp – doesn’t feel significantly quicker.

BMW X6 image
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By diesel standards, the 30d and 40d have surprisingly appealing, throaty sounding engine notes. When you select Sport mode, an artificial engine sound is played through the car’s speakers to deepen the soundtrack. It's unfortunate if you don't like the sound because it never really fades away, even at a cruise.

By contrast, the petrol-engined M60i and M Competition models offer suitably loud and theatrical backing tracks. They're mainly provided by the interior speakers rather than the quad exhaust pipes, but sound delightfully rorty when you decide to press on a bit. You can switch off the engine note and turn down the exhaust noise to reduce the drone at a cruise.

Whichever engine you choose, the X6’s eight-speed automatic gearbox pounds through the gears rapidly when you’re accelerating to motorway speeds, but there’s a tiny bit of lag in its response at slower speeds, which can make it a little jumpy (when pulling forward in slow-moving traffic for example). It’s a significantly better gearbox than the hesitant, jerky equivalent in the Audi Q8. 

Let off the leash, the X6 is one of the more entertaining coupé SUVs to drive. You don't get a great deal of feedback through its chunky steering wheel but the meaty feel of its steering inspires confidence.

Body control is impressively tight, so threading the car through a series of sweeping bends is genuinely enjoyable. The X6 is a close match for the nimble Q8 and leaves the Range Rover Velar feeling sloppy by comparison.

That said, the performance-focused M Competition version still can’t beat the truly physics-defying agility of the Porsche Cayenne Coupé, which turns in to corners more eagerly and has even better body control. 

Air suspension comes as standard, but the smallest wheels available on M Sport models are 21in (we’ve yet to try a Sport model on 19s) and, whichever driving mode you select, there's a firm edge to the low-speed ride. That said, the suspension never thumps or crashes uncomfortably over imperfections.

The M models have a firmer adaptive suspension setup, resulting in a low-speed ride that struggles to settle down, even in its softest Comfort Setting. Thankfully, occupants are not thrown around too much in their seats, but the stiffest Sport Plus setting is best reserved for the smoothest of road surfaces, since it thumps quite loudly when dealing with potholes.

In all X6s there's a bit of suspension noise when you pass over battered bitumen, while road roar from the tyres grows more noticeable at high speeds. The incredibly wide tyres fitted to the M Competition follow road contours a bit and cause the X6 to subtly move around, so it’s not the calmest cruiser around.

The Q8 is generally a better long distance option, with better insulation from wind noise, especially around the front doors. 

Driving overview

Strengths Punchy performance; smooth engines; great handling

Weaknesses Slightly more road and suspension noise than rivals; firmer ride than rivals

BMW X6 M Competition rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The X6’s interior is straight out of the BMW book of modern interior design and is screwed together with impressive solidity and precision. It’s functional, comfortable and attractive too. 

Electrically adjustable sports seats with memory settings for the driver provide good long-distance comfort. The steering wheel offers a wide range of movement to help you find the ideal driving position, although some drivers may find it doesn’t quite go low enough.

The chunky front pillars don’t impede your view out too much at junctions, while the heavily sculpted bonnet is easy to see over. Inevitably, the X6’s sloping roofline and chunky rear pillars limit the view out over your shoulder, while the raked rear windscreen results in a letterbox view out of the back of the car.

The big door mirrors go some way to compensating for that, but you also get front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera standard across the range. The car can even help with parking by controlling the steering for you. A 360-degree camera is on the options list.

Bright LED lights come as standard, as does high-beam assistance, which will automatically dip the headlights to avoid dazzling other road users.

There’s a crisp, clear 12.3in digital driver display in place of conventional analogue instruments, too. It's not as configurable as the Virtual Cockpit system you find in Audi models but it still looks smart and is intuitive to use. A large head-up display is standard on higher spec cars and optional on M Sport with a Technology Pack.

BMW’s infotainment system leads the way in the class for usability and features. It can be operated through either its 12.3in touchscreen or a more intuitive rotary dial controller on the centre console, making it far easier to use on the move than the one in the Audi Q8, which is touchscreen-only.

Unfortunately, BMW has gone the same way as Audi and Volvo and ditched old-fashioned buttons for the heating controls. You have to change the settings using the touchscreen infotainment system, which isn’t great because it’s more distracting to use when you're driving.

The optional gesture control feature (part of the Technology Pack) provides a third method of control, allowing you to use hand gestures near the touchscreen to activate certain functions, although we didn't find it all that effective.

A 10-speaker stereo is standard on M Sport trim, but you can upgrade to a 16-speaker Harman Kard0n surround-sound system (standard on M60i and M Competition cars). There’s also a punchy 20-speaker Bowers and Wilkins upgrade as part of the optional Technology Plus Pack.

Interior overview

Strengths Brilliant infotainment system; high quality interior

Weaknesses Air-con controls are now buried in the touchscreen

BMW X6 M Competition interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The BMW X6 has wide door openings and chunky grab handles so it’s easy to clamber inside, and even tall adults will have more than enough room to stretch out in the front. 

Front storage space is good too. The large lidded cubbyhole ahead of the gearlever incorporates a wireless phone-charging facility and a couple of cupholders (as an option, these can heat or cool your drink). The central armrest doubles as a deep storage compartment with a split-opening lid, while the door bins are huge. The glovebox is rather small though, and only wide enough for the A5 manual.

Perhaps surprisingly considering its sloping roofline, the X6 offers a decent amount of rear head room. The optional Sky Lounge panoramic sunroof reduces the ceiling height considerably but there’s still just enough space for a six-footer.

Leg and knee room are acceptable, although there’s not much space for feet under the front seats. A middle passenger will have to straddle a central hump on the floor. In short, the Audi Q8 is roomier and more comfortable.

The X6 has 580 litres of boot space, which is big enough for a family’s holiday luggage. The car’s coupé SUV styling means it narrows towards the entrance so it’s not as easy to load up as the squarer BMW X5 and the load entrance is quite high.

The back seats in the X6 fold down in three sections, split 40/20/40, to give you a big load space when needed. There’s also a big storage well under the boot floor.

For comparison, the Audi Q8 gets 605 litres of boot capacity and the Porsche Cayenne Coupé has 592 litres.

Practicality overview

Strengths Spacious for four occupants; plenty of storage space

Weaknesses Rivals have more comfortable rear seats and more space; rivals have bigger boots

BMW X6 M Competition boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The X6 doesn’t cost much more than an equivalent BMW X5 and is priced in line with the Audi Q8 and Porsche Cayenne Coupé. The X6 is predicted to lose its value at a near identical rate to an equivalent X5, which is slightly slower than the Q8, but the Cayenne Coupé will hold its value far better over three years.

The xDrive30d diesel has the best official fuel economy, and the M Competition petrol the worst (expect MPG figures in the low 20s). An official figure of 39.8mpg for the xDrive30d compares well against 34.9mpg for the equivalent Q8. However, despite CO2 emissions of 187g/km undercutting the Q8 50 TDI’s 213g/km, it still falls well within the top benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax band.

X6 M Sport models are stacked with kit, including 20in alloy wheels, heated front seats, cruise control, ambient lighting, two-zone climate control and a sports steering wheel. There's a long list of optional comfort, convenience and technology packs but – as is the case with the X6's rivals – they're not cheap.

In terms of reliability, we don’t yet have any data for this third-generation X6 so we can’t say for sure how dependable it will be. BMW finished in 12th place out of 32 manufacturers in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. That's three down from Volvo but a better result than Porsche, Audi and Land Rover. The X6 comes with a three-year, unlimited-mileage BMW warranty.

The X6 is so closely related to the X5 that it won’t be crash-tested separately by safety experts at Euro NCAP. However, the X5 received an impressive five-star safety rating in 2018, performing strongly in most categories. It comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning as standard.

If you want additional driver aids, such as front cross-traffic alert and automatic speed-limit assist, the optional Driving Assistant Professional package is available.

Costs overview

Strengths Well-equipped; competitive pricing; diesel offers good fuel economy

Weaknesses Options can quickly drive up the price

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BMW X6 M Competition infotainment screen

FAQs

  • You can’t buy the X6 as an electric car or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) but most of the petrol and diesel engines (including our favourite, the xDrive30d MHT diesel) have mild-hybrid technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

  • We favour the xDrive30d MHT in M Sport trim. It has a very smooth six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine that packs lots of punch low down in the rev range.

  • Very good. The X6 comes with a 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system that can be controlled by prodding the screen or using the iDrive rotary dial controller on the centre console. An optional gesture control feature allows you to wave near the screen to activate functions, although we didn't it find it particularly responsive.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £10,760
Target Price from £72,991
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or from £783pm
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From £63,450
RRP price range £76,925 - £118,330
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel
MPG range across all versions 24.6 - 39.8
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £5,608 / £8,550
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £11,216 / £17,100
Available colours