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BMW ActiveHybrid X6 (2009) first pictures

Published: 13 August 2009

This is BMW’s new ActiveHybrid X6, the company's first full production hybrid car. With two electric motors mated to the twin-turbo V8 powerplant, BMW claims its new SUV is not only the world’s most powerful hybrid, but also offers a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions over the equivalent petrol-only X6 by around 20%. And all to the ‘joint enhancement of driving pleasure and efficiency’. Mmmm…

Does the new BMW ActiveHybrid X6 come with a huge V8 mated to a tiny electric motor?

No – there’s actually two electric motors. They respectively produce 90 and 85bhp, and together with the 401bhp/442lb ft 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, produce a total of 478bhp and 575lb ft – making the X6 easily the world’s most powerful hybrid. With all that grunt being sent through all four wheels, it’s enough for a 5.6 second sprint to 62mph, just 0.2 seconds slower than the X6 50i.

And although you might scoff at the prospect of little electric motors assisting a giant V8, the ActiveHybrid X6 will achieve 28.5mpg, says BMW, and emit 'only' 231g/km. Both the diesel-engined X6s will do better (at 34.4mpg/217g/km and 34mpg/220g/km respectively) but the figures are improvements of the equivalent petrol-engined X50i (22.1mpg/299g/km) and even the 3.0-litre twin-turbo 35i (25.4mpg/259g/km).

Not bad, considering all the extra tech adds 185kg to the kerbweight, making for a 2450kg total. But we're sure plenty of you will study the above paragraph and question BMW's model strategy...

Does the ActiveHybrid X6 do all the fancy stuff?

If you mean running on electric power only, automatically shutting down in stationary traffic and capturing lost energy under braking, then – yes – the new BMW ActiveHybrid X6 does all the fancy stuff.

An electric CVT ‘box acts as a two-mode active transmission for maximum efficiency, with different characteristics for high- and low-speed driving. It all means the X6 can automatically shut down the V8 engine on the overrun at speeds below 40mph, and also run on electric power alone below 37mph for up to 1.6 miles. The electric motors also allow stop-start running in traffic while continuing to run the electrical climate compressor, and under braking or on the overrun, act as generators to charge the NiMH battery.

And just to make sure the outside world knows you’re driving a hybrid, there are ActiveHybrid badges splattered across the X6, a ‘Powerdome’ bonnet, special 20-inch wheels and a unique ‘Bluewater’ metallic paint. It's all about keeping up with the Joneses, don't forget.

Expect to pay a premium over the X6 50i, but not in the UK – the expense of engineering the ActiveHybrid for a right-hand drive market dominated by cleaner diesels means it doesn’t make economic sense to make the conversion, apparently. And that's a crying shame.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new BMW ActiveHybrid X6

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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