Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Of the four engines offered in the X6, the xDrive40i and M50 are petrols, while the xDrive30d and M50d drink from the black pump. All models have four-wheel drive as standard. This engine lineup is shared by many of BMW’s latest models, but, in the new X6, we’ve only tried the M50i.
This twin-turbocharged V8 readily delivers big thrills and effortless pace. It’ll thrust the X6 from 0-62mph in just 4.3sec – simply staggering for such a big SUV. Select Sport Plus mode and you’ll be treated to a muscular soundtrack along the way, or you can set Comfort mode for a near-silent motorway cruise.
It remains to be seen whether BMW is keeping its powder dry in preparation for an even more rapid version of the X6. Nor has the brand confirmed any electrification for the lineup. On both counts, watch this space. For now, the 'sensible' choice in the lineup is the xDrive30d. We have yet to try this six-cylinder diesel engine, but, if the same engine in the BMW X5 is any indication, it will most likely offer the best of all worlds: swift, flexible performance paired with the most reasonable fuel bills of the range.
No matter which engine you choose, the eight-speed automatic gearbox pounds through the gears rapidly when you’re in a drag race but will also shuffle through shifts imperceptibly at low speeds around town. It’s a significantly better gearbox than the hesitant, jerky equivalent in the Audi Q8.
The X6 is certainly one of the more entertaining cars in this class to drive. There may not be a great deal of feedback through its chunky steering wheel, but the meaty feel of its steering still inspires confidence. Body control is impressively tight, too, so threading it through a series of sweeping bends is genuinely enjoyable. It can’t beat the truly physics-defying agility of the Porsche Cayenne Coupé, but the X6 is a close match for the nimble Audi Q8 and is certainly better than the Range Rover Velar, which feels sloppy by comparison.
Air suspension comes as standard, but so far we’ve only tried the stiffer adaptive M suspension that’s standard on the M50i and M50d. Thus equipped, the X6’s ride is on the firm side, but is still supple enough to be comfortable most of the time – especially on the motorway. There is, however, a bit of intrusive suspension noise when you pass over slight bumps in the road.
Otherwise, the X6’s interior is relatively quiet on the move, but road roar from the tyres grows more noticeable at high speeds. Overall, though, the Audi Q8 is generally more refined.