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BMW X6 show debut

Published: 14 January 2008

Affluent German makers now try the shotgun rather than the sniper’s approach to new model sectors – fire enough speculative models out into the market, and some are sure to hit the target. We’ve had sports activity vehicles, urban activity vehicles and just about every other type of crazy crossover as carefully focused as a blunderbuss. Now BMW invents yet another niche – the sports activity coupé.

What exactly does that mean?

It’s summed up by the new X6, unveiled today in Detroit. BMW says it mixes the driving brio of a sports car with the practicality of an SUV: X5 meets 3-series coupé. With its new ‘Dynamic Performance Control’ – a clever rear diff that apportions torque side-to-side to improve traction and handling – and new top-end twin-turbo 408bhp V8, it may well be the world’s sportiest 4x4.

But that’s about as meaningless as the world’s roomiest coupé (or the world’s sportiest semi-articulated lorry). If you want a sports car, don’t buy a vehicle that’s closer in dimensions to a Ford Transit than a Ferrari.

So how practical is the X6?

Not very. It has four seats only – not very clever in a two-ton-plus vehicle with a bigger footprint than an X5 – and rear seat room is absurdly cramped for a car so long and tall. What’s more, although it’s a four-door (and not a proper coupé), the back seat is awkward to climb into (or out of).

Carrying versatility is less than many smaller hatchbacks. The backrests fold down increasing boot space – and that’s it for seating gymnastics. You sit lower than in an X5 – ‘to increase the sporty feel’. Yet the weight, wheelbase, fascia and diesel engines (the big sellers in Europe) are the same as in the X5.

So, contrary to the goal, this crossover seems to marry the practicality of a 3-series coupé with the performance of an X5. The X6 comes to a UK school run near you in May, priced from £41,955.

They say: Invents a whole new category of SUV
We say: Sports futility vehicle
CAR verdict: 2/5

By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience

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