2009 BMW X6 Review

2009 BMW X6 Review & Road Test

Model Tested:

  • 2009 BMW X6 xDrive35i – $AUD price not yet available

Impressive, unique, fantastically quick and aesthetically brilliant.
Not available in Australia…yet.

CarAdvice Rating:

– by Bob Hume (UK)

Has the BMW summoned demand from the ether? It would seem so – in Europe at least, orders for these cars have been placed well into 2009.

The artfully produced sales brochure tells you that “its elegance will fascinate you, its agility will inspire you and its presence will impress you through and through”.

2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review

This is a crossover between a coupe and a sports utility vehicle. The opening paragraph of the brochure goes on to say that the X6 “represents the fusion of athletic coupe charisma with the authority and versatility of a Sports Activity Vehicle – a stylish refusal to compromise”.

The X6 only seats 4 people, somewhat limiting the versatility expected of an SUV, perhaps it has one seat less than the X5 simply because the new car would compete with it? Unlike most coupes it also has 2 rear passenger doors.

I remember first clapping eyes on the X6 when I got a press release about the production concept last year. I liked the look of it – I had a bit of a smile to myself, mainly because I’m a fan of bold design and this was, after all only a concept.

I pinned the concept press photo on the wall above my desk and glanced fondly at it every now and again. The next thing I heard, they were actually launching it.

The X6 is an X5 sized SUV with sporty lines, an acutely angled set of ‘A’ pillars and coupe-shaped arse. Sitting on the standard 19” wheels, the X6 did have a very large amount of aggressive aesthetic appeal – I had to admit it looked great from every angle.

2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review

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The tested variant was the mid-range twin-turboed 3-litre V6 petrol xDrive35i – capable, BMW says, of a 0-100km/h time of ~6.7 seconds. Now that’s bloody quick.

When you consider that the range-topping 4.4-litre V8 xDrive50i will do the same sprint in 5.5 seconds, it becomes bloody amazing. That’s miles quicker than the quickest of the Range Rover Sport range – the best that the supercharged 4.2 V8 can manage is 7.6. To put it another way, it’s 3 tenths of a second slower than a Maserati GranTurismo.

The sequential paddle shift is as good as you’d expect – quick and efficient. Throttle response is instant and linear lift is spectacular – instant and lag-free. Handling is about the best I’ve experienced in a car of this height, weight and size – a lot of this is achieved by the 50:50 front to rear weight balancing and double-jointed spring struts at the front. It’s no Lotus Elise on the corners but it’s as stable and controllable as a hot(ish) hatch.

2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review

You can see the bind I’m in – I can’t compare it with a competitor because there aren’t any other coupe/SUV four seater crossovers. I have trouble comparing it to a luxury SUV because that isn’t what BMW want it to be and I definitely can’t set it against a coupe unless it’s one on steroids and stilts and only exists in my head.

Am I supposed to be racing Golf GTis away from the lights? If the figures are accurate then I’d win but I’m pretty sure it would have me at the first corner. Should I be bouncing it over sand-dunes? Not with a price-tag that’s more than the annual salary of the average executive.

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The sports suspension does little to soak up even the smallest of imperfections on the road; take it onto anything less that a immaculately finished main road you WILL feel almost everything. This was difficult for me to swallow – the on-road dynamics are improved by the stiff suspension but the X5 also possesses great road-holding ability and a comfortable ride.

I took a single-track tarmac road to a local scenic area and was actually surprised at how hard the ride became. This bit confused me – why would I pay a lot of money for large luxury car that wasn’t comfortable in every reasonable scenario?

2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review

There is no doubt that this vehicle draws attention; I had to stop at a filling station to stock up on spare batteries for my camera and everybody took a good look. It’s impossible to say what they were thinking but my usual scruffy hedge-lurking/lying on the ground photography state of dress may have added to the confusion.

In the cabin, everything has a sporty slant but virtually all controls are in the same highly ergonomic places that you’d find them in the X5 and the build quality and use of materials is everything you’d expect – superb. Stitching quality in the high quality leather is something that I never fail to notice and it was excellent. This may say more about my slightly mental observational capacity than the car however.

The instrumentation and displays are all very clear and visible – the fighter pilot in me particularly liked the Head-Up Display on the windscreen. All of the tactile surfaces were nice to touch and the switch, control and mechanical action are all very slick and there are Landcruiser-style kneepads to stop you whacking your kneecaps on the trim. Head room is not great but more than enough for me in the front and rear – that’s the sloping roof pillars. The seating positions are naturally quite high, providing a commanding feel.

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2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review

The cabin is fitted with a really slick 4-zone climate control system allowing all four passengers to control the temperature of their immediate surroundings. The two individual rear seats are supportive and have side-bolsters; they are separated by a centre console, giving the impression that BMW wanted to provide the same experience in the rear as in the front – they do feel like two front seats.

It will perform well on loose surfaces; gravel, ice and snow thanks to the xDrive and Dynamic Performance Control systems. The xDrive intelligent four-wheel traction system is among the best on the market; whilst the DPC helps to control under and oversteer by shifting drive between the rear axles – both systems have served their time in the X5.

The best I can say about the X6 is that it’s an unbelievably good car – it’s impressive, unique, fantastically quick and aesthetically brilliant. Don’t get me wrong I’m fascinated, inspired, impressed – just like the brochure said I’d be.

One thing you can be sure of – the Bavarians do not usually get things wrong – there are very few real risks taken. The X5 sold in extraordinary numbers almost six years ago – BMW intuitively recognising demand for a luxury SUV with sports saloon performance and off-road ability.

2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review

They captured a huge slice of an incredibly competitive market with a product that they had never manufactured before. They bulldozed their way through all the barriers to entry, with their financial might and incredible marketing to place their brilliant product firmly in the sights of potential consumers. Potential consumers very quickly became ravenous customers.

The main difference this time is that they are marketing a car of a type that no other manufacturer has ever built before. This is an expensive car with a frankly mysterious purpose being launched into an extremely shaky global market.

The marketing types at BMW are bound to have thought the X6 through. Aren’t they?

Expect to see the new BMW X6 in Australia by late 2008.

Official photos on the next few pages.

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2009 BMW X6 Review
2009 BMW X6 Review


  • JW

    Honestly, I dislike this vehicle.

    It seems to be rather wasteful. What can it do that an X5 cannot? Well, it may be a bit more sporty, but if you were going for that, you’d much rather buy a sedan or a coupe from BMW without the disadvantages that a SUV would bring.

    Also, it’s quite obvious the practicalities of a 4WD are mostly missing from the X6.

    I would also bet my house it would be more expensive than the X5.

  • Duck

    ^Agreed JW! I’d rather have an X5 over this!

  • Captain Mainwaring

    Quite why BMW would want to copy the styling of the Ssangyong Actyon I don’t really know, but that’s what they’ve gone and done.
    This visual abortion obviously drives nicely, but why the Hell would anybody want to be seen within 100 metres of one?
    This is clearly an example of pushing the brand about as far as even terminally stupid people might be tempted to take the over-hyped bait.

  • Duck

    ^Thats what I was thinking of too Captain, the rear is like the Ugly SsangYong Actyon! Though not as ugly, no way near!

  • jbot

    I think the idea is that you have the high driving position so many people like now, with decent handling and performance. I think making it a 4-seater was a mistake though.

  • Minnow

    Those rims look mighty familiar. BMW….? are you pinching rims from ford?

  • Wheelnut

    I would have this over an X5 ML320 RX330 or any other similar car [including Klugers etc] as its looks make it more of SPORTS Utility Vehicle…. it doesn’t look like a mobile fortress like the others do

  • Captain Mainwaring

    Have another look at the back end Duck, and you might find that the Actyon is actually more attractive,

  • B///M3

    This is a fantastic looking car, it is definitely my next BMW!

  • lolcake?

    LOL…WTF..who would buy something as hidious as that! A 1 year old kid could even design a better looking car!

  • Chucky

    If the Merc CLS which is basically an E-Class with a sleeker shape, 4 seats, and a higher price tag can sell, then I’m sure this thing can.

  • victory

    it is hard to see the point of the X6. my pick would be the X5 but still, there’s no denying the X6 is a beaut!
    doubt bmw will ever have troubles selling it, just like every other model bar the X3

  • William Bennett

    This vehicle outlines what is wrong with the motor world now days. Practicality comes second. This car is supposed to be a practical SUV, yet its nothing of the sort. It is only narrowly nugged off the worst design award by the Toyota Prius. If this, erm, whatever it is sells, then BMW will have pulled off the greatest suck in ever in the motoring world. The X5 is much more practical, doesnt look as bad, and seats 5, i think. Who ever is designing BMW’s these days needs to be replaced, as every one of the current crop is either hideous, or pointlessly out of proportion (1 series coupe)

  • Austran

    Unlike families who would tend to go for the X5, i feel the market for this may lean towards DINKS (double income no kids)… who don’t necessarily need 7 seats, or the reat seat for that matter. They still want the commanding driving position, yet like coupe/off road profile. For me, it looks fantastic.

  • Dlr1

    Best of both worlds? More like the worst of both. Coupe compromise in space and seating with SUV handling. I know the X5 is at the top of its class for handling ect, but why compromise its practicality with this body?

  • realcars

    I reckon it looks good. Like the wheels too.

    Four door coupe concept makes this a standout design.

  • http://- crouchy

    Man id hate to be reversing that thing!!!

    Ugly rear end.

  • No Name

    Having seen one in the flesh on the M25 two weeks ago and the boss has one on order, they are obviously in strong demand. The back end in the real world ain’t as bad as all that.
    I do however have a problem with the type of car, honestly whats the point. If an environmental car tax was going to be applied to wasteful vehicles this should be at the top of the list. Executive off-road coupe Uhh! really don’t get it.
    However BMW have made something work properly, just hope they sort their reliability problems out.

  • Wayne

    what an ugly car….

    the rims looks like Ford XR5

  • Integra

    Wow! I have never seen a car that polarises opinion like the X6. As they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
    My wife loved it at first sight. I loved the powerful muscular look, and once test driven, we ordered one the next day.
    This is quite a big car with great floor area in the boot and my 181cm had plenty of headroom front and back (very comfy rear seats). The X6 stuck to the road and accelerated better than the X5 (which is getting very dated and has IT a bum like a SsangYong). Visibility was reasonable and the reversing camera makes it safer to reverse than her 540i.
    A fifth seat would have been handy, but if she wants to carry more than 3 passengers she can borrow my Q7. But then what would I drive? Just leave the keys, dear!