2013 BMW X6 xDrive50i – Review and Test Drive
The BMW X6 was the first vehicle of its kind when it launched in 2008, fusing a four-door coupe with a sport utility vehicle. Despite strong criticism at the time, the X6 has inspired numerous other models on the market, and remains one of BMW’s best kept secrets for drivers who want it all – power, performance, and the ability to literally drive over it all.
In some respects, the X6 actually isn’t that unique, but rather somewhat recycled – its form factor a reminder of the Saab 9-3, but unlike the Saab, the X6 doesn’t come with a four-cylinder, a manual gearbox, and front-wheel drive, but rather with a choice of twin-turbocharged six or eight cylinder engines and high-performance all-wheel drive that ensures the car’s 5,000 pound heft can launch around a corner better than most sports cars.
The Alpine White X6 tested was the xDrive50i model, with a 4.4-liter V8 engine, enhanced by the M Performance Package from 400 to 440 horsepower (The X6 could be had with yet more power, via the m50d tri-turbo diesel model not sold in the States, or the X6M). Twenty-inch wheels (the rear tires are nearly a foot wide) and full-LED headlights confirm what the growling exhaust note implies, that this car is a true fire breather.
Inside, the X6 may look similar to the X5, but stepping into the drivers seat, confirms that this car was made for things other than the middle school car line or yoga class. Our car was appointed in luxurious Vermillion Red Nevada leather with the Multi-Contour Seat set commandingly above traffic and ready to securely hold the driver in place while negotiating turns at speed.
DRIVING THE X6
Selecting DS with the electronic shifter reveals why cars have tie-downs to hold luggage down in the back. The test car’s M Performance Package and Dynamic Handling Package were good reason to get lost on more than a few occasions. In addition to the Active Steering (which makes the X6 quite a good track car), the X6’s Dynamic Performance Control splits the torque left to right to keep the car as agile as possible around a curve.
The X6 performed well on Southern California’s freeways, canyon roads and winding highways alike. The 8-speed automatic improved the V8’s EPA fuel economy ratings to an acceptable 14 mpg (16.8 l/100 km) city and 20 (11.7) highway, and the paddle shifters and sport mode encourage spirited driving. DS is for drivers who appreciate the simply wonderful exhaust note, and will hold a lower gear for a moment after launching from a red light so they can enjoy the sound just a little bit longer. In the X6, this sound actually comes from the exhaust, and not the speakers like many other cars. Power was always on tap, and I was one of few drivers who could drive from the Pacific Coast Highway up a canyon road, and actually have to worry about hitting the speed limit.
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