BMW X6: the lowdown
No, X6 is not a typo but the third X model in the BMW’s 4x4 range. BMW kicked off the Frankfurt show today (Tuesday 11 September) by unveiling two coupes spun off existing models. The 1-series coupe is a two-door notchback version of the baby BMW, but the X6 – an X5 SUV with a melted rear end – was the show-stopper. The X6 has much in common with its sibling: a four-wheel drive chassis, front end and five door layout, but get to the A-pillars and things get pretty rakish. There are major changes under the skin, too: the X6 introduces BMW’s petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. For now, the X6 and its eco-drivetrain are officially concepts, but the car is headed for production in 2008 and the drivetrain will follow in ‘09. Expect X6 prices to start north of £35,000.
BMW X6: extreme looks
Munich claims that the X6 is the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe, although suits from Infiniti and Mazda might swing by BMW’s show stand to debate that. What’s indisputable is that the X6 is the most extreme crossover SUV to date. While the structure and wheelbase is shared with the X5, the A-pillars are more raked and the roof drops away like a black ski run. The shoulder line is angled upwards, creating a tapered glasshouse which ends in BMW’s traditional Hofmeister kink. There are wraparound rear lamps merging with a muscular rear haunches, and 21-inch wheels. It certainly looks wedgy and powerful, but you’ll pay for it by compromising the X5’s spacious rear bench and boot space. Indeed, the X6 is only a four-seater – although the car’s 6ft 4in designer Adrian Van Hooydonk claims he can sit comfortably in the back.
BMW X6: eco powertrain
BMW didn’t just unveil the X6 design concept; this ActiveHybrid version also took a bow. The company was being elusive on technical details, not officially acknowledging which combustion engine the hybrid system complemented for instance. Under development in a joint-venture with DaimlerBenz and GM, the system features two electric motors, a high performance battery, a two-range transmission and three planetary gearsets melding the systems together. BMW claims its system will be more usable than rivals’, because its continuously variable transmission features a two-mode active transmission. While existing hybrids’ CVTs can roar frustratingly but take ages to deliver any shove, BMW claims its system optimises power delivery from the engine and motors across the X6’s entire speed range. The result is plentiful grunt on demand and more feedback to the driver, and reasonable economy gains – up 20 percent – over a comparably-sized SUV.
BMW X6: under the skin
More than 50 percent of X6 componentry is shared with the X5. That means continuously variable four-wheel drive, and high performance six- and eight-cylinder engines. It’s also the reason why BMW can take the risk on such a flash, niche vehicle. With its 21-inch wheels, bling exterior and pursuit of performance over practicality, the green brigade will loathe it. Good job the hybrid version will be there to make a green statement. Just don’t bank on it being congestion charge-exempt….