Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The petrol engine lineup opens with the xDrive40i, which we have yet to sample in the X6, but proved impressive in the closely-related BMW X5. We have, though, tried the range-topping twin-turbocharged V8 M50i. This petrol engine delivers effortless pace, thrusting the X6 from 0-62mph in just 4.3sec. That kind of acceleration is simply staggering for such a big SUV.
The six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine of the xDrive30d is our pick of the X5’s engines, and should suit the X6 just as well. It plays second-fiddle to the M50d in terms of outright muscle, though; using no fewer than four turbochargers, this responds just as immediately as the petrol-powered M50i, and takes less than a second more in the 0-62mph sprint. In fact, with the added benefit of extra low-down torque, the M50d is actually quicker off the line.
Select Sport Plus mode on either of the M engines, and you’ll be treated to a muscular soundtrack for your journey, or you can set Comfort mode for a more peaceful motorway cruise.
No matter which 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 to 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, though.
Let off the leash, 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. With that fitted, 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 quiet on the move, although road roar from the tyres grows more noticeable at high speeds. Overall, the Audi Q8 is generally better insulated from wind and road noise.
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