Beauty in buy of the be­holder

BMW has po­larised the car world with its sports ac­tiv­ity coupe, writes GOR­DON LO­MAS

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

ADECADE ago we were ask­ing why BMW had built its four-wheel-drive X5. Th­ese days there are sim­i­lar ques­tions about the X6.

The new­comer is a fam­i­ly­fo­cused X5 in party clothes and, de­spite the doubts, 100 peo­ple have al­ready paid a cash de­posit to park one in their drive­way.

BMW says the X6 is an SAC — Sports Ac­tiv­ity Coupe — in much the same way that Mazda in­sists on call­ing its RX-8 sports car a four­door coupe.

The X6 is a four-door, four-seat ve­hi­cle that is try­ing to find a mid­dle ground be­tween a full-blown SUV and a high-pow­ered sports coupe.

It ar­rives in Aus­tralia for sale from Au­gust 11, with 300 se­cured for the re­main­der of the year.

It will have two ini­tial mod­els — the xDrive 35i 3.0-litre petrol start­ing from $114,705 and the xDrive 35d 3.0-litre diesel from $120,530.

A sting­ing 4.4-litre V8 will join the bunch in Jan­uary and, like the 3.0-litre in-line six-cylin­der units, it will have two tur­bines.

The X6 is a step into un­charted ter­ri­tory. Some see this po­lar­is­ing car as ei­ther an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter or a stroke of ge­nius.

The real story is in the un­der­skin tech­nol­ogy, with Dy­namic Per­for­mance Con­trol mak­ing its pro­duc­tion de­but. It works to pull a car around a cor­ner.

De­vel­oped and tuned at BMW’s elab­o­rate win­ter test cen­tre at Ar­je­plog in the Arc­tic Cir­cle, DPC is the latest and great­est form of elec­tronic sta­bil­ity.

It is in­de­pen­dent of sta­bil­ity con­trol and works through the rear wheels, where it in­creases di­rec­tional sta­bil­ity un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion out of cor­ners by feed­ing the out­side wheel more torque.

Dif­fer­ences be­tween the X6 and the X5 are the rear track, dif­fer­en­tial, elec­tron­ics, roof line, ex­te­rior pan­els and longer over­all length. They share the same wheel­base.

The X6 is 50mm wider 1983mm and 23mm longer 4877mm.

The cargo room is a size­able 570 litres, though it re­mains 50 litres shy of the X5. With the rear seats folded down it is 300 litres short of the X5 at 1450 litres.

‘‘We wanted to make a halo at at model that was unique in this new cat­e­gory that is ba­si­cally go­ing to be the flag­ship in the xDrive range,’’ BMW Aus­tralia prod­uct man­ager Paul Ryan says.

But who is go­ing to buy the X6? BMW Aus­tralia says there will be a de­gree of can­ni­bal­is­ing from the X5, but it nom­i­nates pos­si­ble con­quests from un­likely com­peti­tors such as Maserati and the Porsche 911, along with the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Range Rover Sport.

‘‘They are cus­tomers who need the func­tion­al­ity, but want a car that is es­sen­tially a sports car,’’ Ryan says.

The X6 has 19-inch wheels, a sports steer­ing wheel, sports seats, bi-xenon head­lights, adap­tive head­lights and high-beam as­sist.

It also gains the head-up dis­play, a fea­ture in the 6 Se­ries coupe, which also faces be­ing pep­pered with friendly fire with some own­ers tempted to flee the low-slung twodoor in favour of the X6.

In a party mood: the BMW X6 is a cross be­tween a pow­er­ful sports coupe and a SUV.

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