The BMW X6 has had its refresh and is now in its second-generation, something we covered earlier this year in CarBuyer with our drive of the X6 xDrive50i.
As before, it shares its underpinnings with the BMW X5 SUV, both having the same basic dimensions and wheelbase, but the styling has been re-vamped to be more edgy, modern, and from the looks of the new air intakes, toothy.
How to spot a new X6? Look for the aero bits: Vents that flank the front wheel fenders (for better through-wheel airflow) and rear lights that have a tall, sculpted shape, which apparently ‘add horsepower’ by reducing drag.
This particular X6 is the diesel-powered M Performance offering, meaning it’s not quite a full on M – like the X6 M seen on the next page – but in this case, it’s a wholly good thing.
When is more not more? When it’s more than enough, and that’s exactly what the X6 m50d is for the road. It still packs the only triple-turbo engine around, a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel mill with 381bhp. It’s the same engine as found in the previous X6 M50d, which we found to be shockingly fast and fun for such a large vehicle.
If that doesn’t sound enough for a towering 1.7-metre tall SUV, keep in mind it has 740Nm of torque. 0-100 happens just 0.3 seconds slower than the V8-powered X6 xDrive50i which has nearly 70bhp more.
There’s almost no diesel clatter on the inside and in fact the straight six sounds purringly nice at higher revs – though there aren’t many to be had as on a gasoline car, but the diesel hardly needs it. The three turbos are sequential and correspondingly larger, so handing off to one another in a relay race of torque madness that gives the car a surge of locomotive punch every time you bury the right pedal.
When the mood strikes you can shift the car to Sport+ mode (there’s also Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport) which stiffens everything up (standard is the ‘M Adaptive Suspension’ setup) and there’s also additional magic in the form of active torque vectoring which shuffles drive to the correct wheels to minimise understeer.
With the X6’s new base of sound, fluid handling married to more torque and a sportier setup, the result is that the X6 M50d is one of the easiest and best-driving big SUVs around – it behaves more like a hot hatch on stilts than a big soft-roader. It’s likely one of the fastest, easiest cars to drive real roads, with the tidy handling and high seating position giving you lots of time to react to what’s coming up.
Particularly impressive is the way it roars through tight bends, the torque vectoring really helping to keep the car on the right line. Some passengers found the ride quality in Comfort to be more wallowy than Sport, although none could fault the way the X6 M50d cancels out bad road conditions and gets on with the job of fast moving.
The interior is still top-notch, with lots of interesting curves and premium features – as the test car’s graphics show, it also packs BMW’s connectivity suite ConnectedDrive for everything from a concierge service to traffic updates and an SOS button. Practicality is there too, in the form of the large 550 to 1525-litre boot, and unlike its first iteration, the X6 now fits three people in the rear seat, albeit with less headroom than in an X5.
M-themed bits litter the interior – the suede-covered sport seats have an interesting reflective highlight pattern, and there’s also M-style pedals and the famously fat M steering wheel. Naturally, similar cosmetic bits can also be found on the outside of the car, in the form of an M bodykit and special wheels, plus black-tipped exhausts and silver mirror covers.
READ MORE: The X6 M50d may be a premium-power diesel, but BMW’s most popular diesel in Singapore is now very likely this car
It’s all window dressing, and wouldn’t matter for naught if the car didn’t drive well. Luckily, it’s not just eminently driveable, rapid and fast, it’s also fun to pilot too. And like its little brother in the M Performance range, the M135i, the X6 M50d is a lesser BMW in name only. In spirit and execution, it’s one of the best.
BMW X6 M50d Engine 2,993cc, 24V, inline 6, tri-turbo Power 381bhp at 4000-4400rpm Torque 740Nm at 2000-3000rpm Gearbox 8-speed automatic Top Speed 250km/h 0-100kmh 5.2 seconds Fuel efficiency 6.6L/100km CO2 174g/km Price $411,800 with COE Availability Now
Derryn Wong is currently editor-in-chief of CarBuyer and he enjoys probing all aspects of the motoring industry, ranging from bizarre holes in the upholstery to the engineered insanity of the COE system. No, not those kinds of holes.