ROUNDEL CROSSOVER REVOLUTION WAS WON: In less than half the time required for BMW to solidly establish an Ultimate Driving Machine footing in America its crossover sports utility vehicles have wildly overtaken sports sedan counterparts. Since their 1999 X5 debut, BMW SUVs have propelled annual U.S. sales from around 80,000 to about half-a-million. Purists have poo pooed that some of the driving ultimateness has given out to market appeal broadening utility. The German sport luxury automaker shrugs with with Sports Activity Vehicle profits responding with some very capable X series M variants.
CROSSING ROUNDEL CUBE COUPE: With [Christopher] Bangle Bustles clearly on the mind, designer Pierre Leclercq swapped a sloped sportback for the X5’s vertical Kammback, creating the the E71 BMW X6 sports activity coupe in 2009. Questioning the business case for a pricier, less useful car-like caricature of a truck born of cars has been answered by more profitable niche exclusivity.
LIKE STICKS AND STONES: considering that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and there is no accounting for taste, Bäyerischen Motor Werken unveils the third generation mid-size 2020 BMW X6 SAV.
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WHAT: 2020 BMW X6 40i xDrive mid size luxury sports activity vehicle, based on the X5 crossover, the latter predicated on the 5 series sedan. As the 3rd iteration coded G06, this crossover coupe succeeds the F16 designation
Standard Power: B58B30M1 twin scroll longitudinal intercooled turbocharged 3.0L DOHC 24V DI gas I-6, start/ stop = 335 hp/ 330 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm + 8-spd. ZF design torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + viscous clutch differential all-wheel drive.
vs. 2018 X6 35i M55B30M0 = +33 hp, +35 lb-ft;
- intake cooling and electronic wastegate control = faster turbo spool-up, imperceptible lag
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: A luxury executive sportback rides atop the Bayerische Motor Werke CLAR modular steel, aluminum and carbon fiber intensive platform with 48 V electrical system, capable of accommodating, hybrid and pure electric powertrains.
• Sharpened Ball of Lifted Sport Activity: A pronounced Coke-fuselage sportback announced by swept back windshield, exaggerated slope liftgate sportback and high belt-line, now wears more adventurous elements vs. outgoing F16 series:
√ Vertically slatted twin kidney grille, widened with outward arrow bezels, arch over hood line; √ Angel-eyes DRLs underscore wrap around LED headlamp housings; √ Lattice dark lower front fascia corners cut in open brow hectahedral; √ Simulated metallic front skid plate matched by U-shaped license plate bezel mid rear bumper trim;
At the Sides:
√ Serrated look metallic side skirts; √ Dark wheel arch cladding, mates to rear lower fascia; √ Dark aft front wheel arch louver mates to upswinging lower cheatline crease; √ More subtle belt-line crease accentuates rear quarter flare.
√ Looping hockey stick wrap around LED light bars extend well into mid liftgate; √ Roof air splitter; √ Sharper spoiler atop upper and lower flared liftgate; √ Metallic trimmed concave lower bumper houses license plate; √ Hind rear quarter dark corner louvers; √ Dual trapezoid chrome exhaust housings; √ Dark lower rear fascia w/ subtle diffuser.
WHY: Sportbacks reign retinal over buses
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2019
WHERE: BMW new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.A
WHERE TO: Pretty much anywhere the cold one blows or the sun sizzles on the road. Bias of the electronic coupling all-wheel drive is nominally 60% at the rear wheels. Demand can transfer 100% of torque fore or aft depending on traction and yaw inputs. (There is an available off-road package with air springs and e-torque vectoring rear differential.)
HOW ROADWORTHY: A credible evolution of BMW’s straight six lineage. An electric wastegate forbids lag out the larger upsized Honeywell twin scroll turbocharger which benefits from on demand intake cooling. Stronger crank internals and arc wire sprayed cylinder liners better thermal management with throttle-less valving, tolerating high compression. Sport mode stirs the 8-speed ZF design 8HP50 auto gearbox to hold gears longer. The torque bump is urgent. If so desired, the X6 40i has the wherewithal to push occupants hard back into the seats, without brutishness.
• Four drive modes = Comfort, Sport, Eco Pro, Adaptive
– Variable rate steering quickly turns the 275mm Pirelli Scoprions with a energetic verve that could use added linearity. Wheel travel is plenty generous but reigned in by prudent electronically damping. Conventional steel springing has just the right stiffness for body motion neutality. The kind of taut control during rapid turn hints of energy swallowing sway bar bushings. Oversized 4-wheel vented rotor brakes, with 4 piston fixed front calipers offering nearly too civilized bite response. Two+ ton vehicles, riding +2″ inches higher than normal, shouldn’t feel this buttoned down. But this one does.
HOW FAR: 22 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 490 highway miles range
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. Rear seat = average size adult usable shaving legroom and headroom vs. X5 stablemate.
– For Comparison’s Sake:
- 117.1″-inch Wheelbase: 0.8″ < Audi Q8, 2.9″ > Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
- 2nd Row legroom: 4.5″ < Audi Q8, 4.3″ < Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
HOW USEFUL: √ 40/20/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs + dual cargo bay cable releases; √ Aluminum bumper load plate; √ Cargo bay privacy shade; √ Spring raised cargo floor to subfloor management; √ Cargo-area 12V outlet; √ Power liftgate w/ dual grab handles; √ Mouse-fur lined, damped action glove box.
- +1 Non-intruding cargo area wheel arch, +1 Enormous sub-floor storage +1 Clamshell access front center armrest bin
- -1 Sportback sloping liftgate cuts capacity by almost 20%, –1 No overhead console retracting sunglass bin, -1 Center console front wireless charging bin lid won’t close with USB cable
For Comparison’s Sake:
Nominal, expanded cargo capacity: -10%, -0.5% vs. Audi Q8, +23%, -5.0% vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (X5 tested); √ Surround view cameras; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control; √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ Auto high beam headlamps; √ Heads-Up display
+1 Parking Assist Plus (opt.) executes precise active parallel & perpendicular parking maneuvers, estimating door swing in surround camera.
-1 Adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist steering autonomy not standard
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The Bavarians have gotten their act together filling the place with bespoke materials even in standard guise. Indeed there are system settings out the yazoo, though a more streamlined 7th generation IDrive takes out lots of the tech anxiety. Display graphics are harmonious and color schemes easy on the eyes. What physical switchgear there is feels robustly enjoyable. Door lock and seat memory controls are appropriately grouped on the door panels. Surface graining does its best to be authentic with seams so uniform. Nary a hard surface ensures the place is darn quiet.
√ Heated 16-way power front sport seats, torso & lumber adjust, manual knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; √ 4 power windows, full express; √ 4-Zone auto climate control w/ 2nd Row controls; √ 2nd Row and aft dark tint privacy glass; √ Power panorama roof; √ Power folding wing mirrors; √ Comfort approach access keyless entry
- +1 Power tilt/ telescoping steering wheel;
- -1 Steering wheel and rear seats not heated
Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ 12.3“-inch LCD Digital Drive Display w/ configurable LCD twin gauges; ♦ Gesture proximity media display control – clockwise finger rotation mimics turning the volume dial; ♦ Caring Car with both Relax (Orange sunset) and Vitalize (Green pasture) modes, provides 2:46 of mood music, varying climate settings, display image and varying intensity mood lighting; ♦ Heads up display w/ navigation map; ♦ Vehicle length badged streaming puddle lamps
Details Done Right: ♦ Turned aluminum inlays; ♦ Full exposed soft material surfaces; ♦ Contrast stitched, pebbled leather seating & upper door panels & dash-top; ♦ Full dashboard & door panel ambient LEDs; ♦ Dense pile cabin, transmission tunnel & cargo area carpeting; ♦ Illuminated twin- kidney grille
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Black mesh cloth headliner;
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 12.3″ iDrive 7 touch, remote & voice controlled LCD infotainment screen; √ iDrive 7 center console rotary controller, finger script touch pad & primary function buttons; √ Rotary audio volume dial, tuning & preset switches; √ Bluetooth, hands-free communications; √ Voice-to-text SMS messaging; √ Voice command/ guidance 3-D HDD GPS navigation; √ HD weather, traffic; √ Apple CarPlay; √ BMW Connected Apps using virtual cloud for appointments; √ USB x 4, 12V x 3.
Audibly: √ 16 speaker, 600 W Harman Kardon DTS 7.1 RDS HD radio = shallow bass, crisp highs, convincing sound stage
By Subscription: √ SiriusXM (90 days incl.); BMW Connected Services √ 4G LTE by AT&T;
HOW MUCH: $72,020 = as tested 2020 BMW X6 40i xDrive suggested retail price
WHAT’S MISSING: An option list which gets less carried away
ANY COMPETITION: Audi Q8: +1 Google Earth virtual cockpit, cargo space; Mercedes Benz AMG GLE43 Coupe: +1 AMG handcrafted engine, interior detail; Porsche Cayenne Coupe: +1 engine sound, handling.
FINAL WORD: The price of standing out among the more useful crowd
Contributing Editor: P. Stamatis