The SiXth Dimension

The SiXth Dimension image

Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co, BMW Press | posted September 03, 2008 00:00

BMW X6 Active Product Experience

In the ever-changing automotive world, BMW raised a few eyebrows when it announced that it was coming out with its X6 Sports Activity Coupe. As expected, the term sports activity coupe may have seemed alien to many. Then again, the people at BMW do come out with some of the most creative names for their engineering marvels. Yet, it wasn't so far back when they branded the X5 as a Sports Activity Vehicle. History repeats itself, as they have yet again found a new way to call the newest member of their family. Some critics discard it as marketing hype. But this writer is one who passes judgment only after he gets to drive a vehicle. Like clockwork, BMW brought a bunch of us motoring scribes up to Subic to fully experience the new BMW X6 just before it was officially launched in the Philippines.

The whole experience started out with an appetizer at the "limited" product experience conducted by BMW in McKinley Hill. This event included selected customers who were invited to experience the X6 along with some of BMW's lineup of vehicles. In the pursuit to educate, customers were introduced to some of BMW's Active Safety features for and on and off road driving conditions led by Georges Ramirez. BMW Product Trainer Herbert Grunsteidl, who introduced the group to the new xDrive Dynamic Perfromance Control system, did a further demonstration of a newly developed feature on a test track simulating some of the most common conditions where the xDrive would come into effect.

The xDrive is a permanent all-wheel drive system that seamlessly distributes power between front and rear axles in a 40:60 ratio in normal circumstances. It acts almost instantaneously and in a very subtle manner to change the drive forces by up to 100% to one axle depending on the road surface or overall driving conditions. This enables the driver to start up effortlessly even on slippery surfaces or steep hills as the system automatically routes power to the axles with the greatest traction. An LCD display in the instrument panel visually illustrates to the driver how the power transfer is done (although it is recommended that you watch the road ahead at all times). The system is also put to good use as it works when parking by fully opening the clutch so that the powertrain functions optimally on low speed driving.

Aboard a 320d, the drive up to Subic was relatively brutal as thunderstorms accompanied us going there. However, this driver managed to drive up safely thanks to some of the bright headlamps and Dynamic Stability Control. It was a relief to discover that the weather would be fair as we woke up the next day for a more comprehensive experience. Like BMW test engineers, we got to drive the X6 along with almost the entire model range on the Subic International Raceway on a track prepared by Georges Ramirez and Grunsteidl.

Grunsteidl devised an effective system where we would get to compare the entire model range between similar vehicles as we drove a lap on one car and hopped on to the next vehicle for another lap to effectively compare both cars. With six cars to test, we were able to contrast the 3 series with the X3, 520d with the 630i, and the X5 with the X6. The well thought system enabled us to properly differentiate what the X6 was totally all about and not just another BMW Sport Activity Vehicle with a new moniker.

In the exterior department however, the X6 may not be for everyone as this writer feels there's something about the side profile that doesn't look quite right. Comparing it to the X5, one would think the latter to be more balanced. Then again, it might just need a little bit of getting used to. Another way of looking at it would be that BMW may have just set the standard a little too high with the X5. However, it's a totally different story inside, as the vehicle's interior perfectly blends both the X5 and 6-series' cabin. This gives the driver an up to par experience inside.

Not wanting to sound cliché, but the entire X6 experience was unexpected from a vehicle with such dimensions and height. It had the soul that carried BMW's sports heritage. The spot-on handling is really first-class, and the xDrive is truly a product of pure genius. A smooth ride is combined with impeccable handling is all thanks to the wide track double wishbone front suspension setup of the X6.

The engine performance is also something to rave about as well. The X6 xDrive35i test mule we got comes with the award-winning 306-horsepower 3.0-liter bi-turbo first fitted in the 335i. It provides good power and torque for a two-ton vehicle. The imagines are already playing in this writer's mind about how a hundred more horses in the 4.4-liter bi-turbo V8 powered top trim model would feel like. But let's save that for another review.

And so we were once again given a first hand feel to what Sheer Driving Pleasure is all about with the new X6 courtesy of BMW Philippines. As judgment is passed, the Sports Activity Coupe badge is well within the X6. It is, without a doubt, a well-engineered and innovative marvel.