FIRST DRIVE | New 2020 BMW X6 grows in size and technology
Phuti Mpyane drives the third-generation coupe-SUV at its world launch in Germany
No longer a shocking sight, the new BMW X6 is still a big and swoopy all-wheel drive coupe SUV as an alternative to the more angular and practical X5 alternative.
The visual transformation of the third-generation X6 is far more comprehensive than slapping on its front a wider and now optionally illuminated set of kidney grilles and slimmer, more powerful headlamps and thinner rear tail lamps. The designers have reimagined its most remarkable feature, which is the sloping roof.
Stretched out to a new length of 4,935mm, which is 25mm longer than the outgoing model, the new X6 is also wider but lower, translating into a stouter road stance but crucially allowing BMW designers to correct the error of their ways with the previous car, which had a clumsy looking roof shape.
The result is a more elegant roof curvature, but the X6 remains a five-door, four- to five-passenger carrier and retains a huge boot.
At 580l with seats up there is no change to the loading capacity from its predecessor. It’s only when the rear seats are folded away that the new car swallows more, but it’s not significant. At 1,525l, it’s only 4l more than the 1,521l of the outgoing model.
The most apparent change here is that the tailgate lip has been lowered, meaning easier loading of luggage than in the previous model.
At 1,696mm tall and despite a 6mm reduction in height, the cabin doesn’t feel claustrophobic and there’s no impediment to heads on entry or egress, nor does it short-change interior head room.
The sharper angle of the windscreen pillars serves to emphasise the sportiness of the X6 but the thickness still impedes the three-quarter view.
A great number of quality elements to the cabin now mimic the new X7 with wedge-shaped surfaces and modern BMW décor and technologies.
Extended features include an acronym-loaded safety and convenience cache, but now with better tracking of the vehicle’s surroundings through an active blind-spot display integrated within the BMW Live Cockpit Professional display.
The rest of the cool and fancy trimmings like head-up display, gesture control, “Hey BMW” artificial intelligence and comfy and supportive Vernasca leather-clad seats remain standard fare while an options list widens the scope of nice stuff to have.
What BMW hasn’t left as an afterthought is the driving experience. The new X6 is initially available in four flavours; 40i, 40d, M50d and the bombastic M50i — the latter being the sole model I drove at the international launch in Munich, Germany.
Mechanically, the M50i is an amalgamation of sexy sounding figures: twin-turbo V8, eight-speed automatic, 390kW, 750Nm, xDrive, adaptive two-axle suspension, and M differential lock.
At 2,235kg this X6 M50i is heavy, but clever weight balancing and the use of lightweight materials in its construction reduces consciousness of its hulking form.
No matter where I drove it, whether gracefully charging along derestricted sections of the autobahn or threading it through winding roads, it responded with hushed tones and lush damper settings when in Comfort Mode. It’s a highly polished cruiser.
Engage sportier settings on its mood selector and the drive gets filled with snap, crackle and pops as it spears forward with a headbanging shove. The decisiveness of its Sport mode feels comparable to the Porsche Cayenne Coupe.
Expect the local introduction of the new X6 during the first quarter of 2020.
X6 xDrive40i — R1,338,679
X6 M50i — R1,698,289
X6 M50d — R1,689,181