Beauty in buy of the beholder
BMW has polarised the car world with its sports activity coupe, writes GORDON LOMAS
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.