The Big Bear Theory: Driving the BMW X6 xDrive50i

What’s big, bad (in a good way), brown, and packs a heavy punch when you give it a good kicking? Your friendly neighborhood grizzly bear?

No, wrong. Though not really. What we have here is BMW’s latest X6 which in some ways, does resemble a bit of our furry grizzly friend. Both are big, powerful and full of attitude but in terms of swallowing up humans, the BMW does a much better and infinitely more comfortable job of doing so.

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Stylistically, i wasn’t the biggest fan of BMW’s previous effort, sure it had presence but to call it beautiful was a stretch. It was ungainly and you kind of get the feeling the designers were trying to hide its bulk with some rather bulbous surfaces.

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With their new car, it looks like they’re now embracing what was once the X6’s biggest bugbear, it’s size, and have clothed the car in a much more stout body with an aggressive and massive front grille flanked by a pair of big LED lights that might burn a hole right through your eye sockets if you dare to attempt a stare-down. (Please don’t)

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Our test car we have today comes with what BMW calls the “Design Pure Extravagance package”, what that generally means is, this car comes equipped with some carefully curated bits, most noticeable are the exterior trim pieces in a satin-ish “Cerium Grey”. It does make for one good looking BMW kidney grille.

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Along the sides, big double cut lines first seen on the X4 now strongly accentuate the sides, giving the X6 a very masculine shoulder line with a very pronounced vent sitting just aft of the front wheels to give it that extra dynamic touch.

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Speaking of which, it takes a rather large car to have 20s not look out of place and this big brown machine manages to do just that.

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That big brown paint job is of course something special as well, coming off BMW’s individual program. Pyrite Brown metallic is the calling card of this color code and with microscopic, crystalline pigments embedded into the paint, our BMW X6 sparkles and shimmers more than an emo vampire under the sunlight.

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Opening up its rear recess (with BMW’s funky kicking sensor tailgate action) and you’ll find a rather large boot, which although might not be as utilitarian as an X5’s does offer a commodious amount of space to swallow up golf bags, suitcases and pretty much everything else you can ever think of. Storage space comes in at 580 litres and if you fold the rear seats down, expands to is an impressive 1,525 litres of luggage space. Interesting fact, the doors cards can also accommodate bottles of up to 1.5 litres in size.

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Inside, the “Design Pure Extravagance package” experience continues with some very lovely interior details and surfaces. I’m not too sure about the two-tone leather seats (i’ll go with a single color anytime) but everything else, from the Nappa leather to the dark oak trim pieces, looks and most importantly feels pure luxury. There really are very few other more pleasant places to be when stuck in our local rush-hour traffic.

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Seating position as we’d imagine provides for a vast and commanding view of the roads ahead and gives fantastic support all round for those times when you just need to blitz through a few countries.

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Rear space on the new car is much improved over its predecessor and ditches the strict rear two-seater setup first introduced and then optioned away on the original X6.

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16 loudspeakers and 1,200W of pure B&O honey.

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When you see this rise up from the dashboard of your car, you know you’ve pretty much made it.

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Of course all the above points wouldn’t mean as much if BMW’s latest “Sport Activity Coupe” was writing cheques its body can’t cash and in that respect, with 650Nm of juice coming from 4.4 liters of Twin Turbo power, any doubts one might have about the X6 xDrive50i pretty much goes out the window once you wiggle your little toe on the throttle. It also has quite a lovely creamy V8 growl that crackles on the overrun and is just sweet sweet butter to any petrolhead’s ears.

With maximum torque coming on song between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm, this mighty engine catapults the BMW X6 from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and will not stop charging until it hits the 250km/h limiter. With these power figures, one wonders what it can do if the limiter ever gets bypassed.

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With selectable setups for various driving conditions, ride comfort is excellent when kept to its default “comfort” setting and drivers of the BMW X6 won’t just cruise over uneven roads, they will pretty much pound those road inconsistencies into submission.

Bringing in “Sport” and “Sport+” modes sharpens the throttle response and bumps up the stiffness of the shocks just a tad. Enough to give some extra tautness and at the same time manages to balance comfort levels really well.

It might not have the agility as its smaller brothers and sisters in BMW’s stable but the X6 really does hold its own really well. Weight and push might be an issue when trying to hustle it through tight narrow roads but the likelihood of anyone buying this car for canyon carving is probably not very high. Regardless, even when pushed along low-speed bends, the X6 remains stable and composed though not exactly feeling “at home” when doing so. On the highways it is an entirely different story, roll is kept minimal and piling on the speed through high speed bends allows one to experience the car’s superlative amount of body control.

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In the unlikely event when an owner of a BMW X6 decides to actually bring his car off-road, they will be glad to know that BMW has kept pretty much all of the X5’s expansive suite of off-road gadgets and gizmos though the slightly lower ride height might not be to the X6’s advantage.

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All in, BMW’s latest take on the X6 is quite a commendable effort. But all this does come at a price, like a big brown grizzly, the X6 has quite the appetite and like a big brown grizzly, they both command quite the premium. But in this comparison at least, having the X6 in your garage is the more sensible choice.


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