Road Test: BMW X6 xDrive 3.5i

Judging by the various BMW paraphernalia on Alexotics you’ve probably already guessed that I’m a big fan of the brand. Today’s test features the BMW X6 and you’re now wondering how I could possibly spin this into a positive review. Or maybe you own an X6 and you’re looking forward to positive review.

A while back I was handed the keys to a black BMW X6 3.5 xDrive by the BMW Belgium Test Center. I was eager to find out if this big brute was a sports car on a stiff off road suspension, or a compromised SUV now useless off road and quite useless on road.

The negatives: Its impossibly small and upward angled rear window makes it impossible to see out. It’s hideous hunchback looks, especially from the ¾ rear view, will have you squint. It’s tiny rear seats with the amount of headroom you’d expect in a 2+2 sports car are just large enough the house your newborns or a sideways golf bag. And lastly it’s ridiculous premium over the much more practical and equally fast, better looking X5, makes you wonder who buys this black sheep. 

You’ll regret having flattened the throttle pinning it through the last apex as the fuel gauge dropped another inch towards E. It’s fuel economy is poor in the 3.5is as the engine is slightly too small for the heavy X6 which results in a nervous, high revving, overworked ride. I assume the fuel economy in the 5.0 and the X6M is stupendous, but then again you’d be stupendous to buy a big engined SUV, let alone a big engined X6.

But drive it, and you'll feel like you're driving on rails. I remember flicking it in corners, missing whatever apex could be found on street roads by a mile, and still not feeling any body roll. The thick steering wheel provided excellent feedback and looked straight out of an M BMW. The grunt was proper, as I had to continually remind myself that I was in a three ton SUV. Aside from the lack of a proper 6-speed transmission, I could have sworn I was in the nimble 335i coupe I tested earlier. It's unbelievable how BMW can implement their precise and focused driving characteristics in whatever car they make, no matter how big or heavy. But at the end of the day I felt guilty about having taken on such a sporty driving style. The amount of strain that kind of driving puts on the brakes and tires is enough to think twice about using an X6 to pretend you’re in the opening scene of the Italian Job.

So what are the X6’s competitors? I’d say it’s a mix of big stylish four doors and trendy SUV’s. If you were in the market for an X6 you’d probably be the type of person who would be considering a Porsche Panamera, Cayenne, the new Mercedes CLS, or a Range Rover Sport. For the money you’re about to spend on either one of these cars, I’d suggest you buy a 996 Turbo and a big Mercedes CL or Jaguar XJ. This way you’ll have two proper cars, one for spirited driving and another for effortless cruising, instead of owning one car which is only moderately successful at combining the two. And don't worry about the lack of raised suspension and a higher sitting position, you wont miss any of that in the urban jungle. And knowing you’ve bought two depreciation specials and you now own two cars on which two unfortunate owners took a massive depreciation makes you feel pretty damn smart, and pretty damn good.
Left: A clip of the test drive. Above: BMW Test Center