Tito F. Hermoso / Tito F. Hermoso | August 12, 2011 13:50
Fusion of the SUV-coupeIt can be said that BMW never met a market segment that it couldn't turn into a high performance one. And if it didn't exist, BMW will create it. Witness the 1st X5 of 9 years ago; it entered the high seat, high ground clearance, high capacity SUV category as a sports car like SAV [Sport Activity Vehicle]. Today's X6 takes the SAV into coupe territory, which is styled like a genuine coupé's proportions while bearing a clear resemblance to other BMW X models.
The coupe feel is emphasized once one hurdles the high ground clearance to tuck one's head unto the low roof. Compared to the CLS Mercedes, Alfa Romeo 156 and the Volvo S60, the culprits of the this 4-door coupe genre, the side windows and the windshield are not letter-box slits. Perhaps those accustomed to a BMW X5 may think his SAV shrank but then the X6 is really a longer, lower and wider version of the erstwhile 5 plus 2 seat X5. Look into the rear view mirror and one of the longest shallow angle sloped tailgate presents a slit like view of the rear but BMW provides a rear view camera and corner sensors as standard. The rear over the shoulder view fools the eye into thinking that the rear is longer than it is thanks to the rising belt line. And just to further insist that it is a coupe, BMW made the rear seats into individual buckets for two with center space taken up by a wide and well detailed storage console. This not your carry all kind of SUV. But you can drive it everyday, worry free like a commuter car so long as gas bills are not something that makes you anxious.
BMW may have left out the active steering and curve following headlights of this X6 X-drive 3.5 [and the auto-dim rear view mirror] but it did not compromise on the range of power adjustment for the driver's seat. Besides the usual range of most power seats, the X6's include power adjust knee support, head restraint angle, backrest grip and firmness, lumbar area and stiffness, all allied to rake and reach power adjust for the steering wheel. There are knee pads on the center console, presuming the need to brace one's knees when the X6 climbs through boulders on some whimsical off road foray. Despite the ground clearance, I found my self adapting a low on the floor coupe roof style of driving position rather than a high commanding perch seat as one would assume in an X5. Value for money? We have to use the German car yardstick here and in terms of other rival German SUVs, the BMW spec list is not as comprehensive as the others.
Outside, the X6 can stand comfortably higher against the other low riser German 4-door coupes like the VW Passat CC and the Mercedes CLS. Large wheel arches complement the trend to bigger and wider tires. Besides, it reduces the visual height of the body, emphasizing the SUV-ness of this SAC, while the low slung windows, remind you that its a coupe alright. Its tough to like this car as it is to find its best vanity side as the squashed roof and long tail back cries for a good angle.
The BMW X6 xDrive35i's twin turbo 306hp 3-liter six is a familiar engine. I had the pleasure of enjoying its debut in a BMW coupe that I drove 840kms from Munich-Leipzig-Dresden-Berlin one winter day, reveling in Autobahn gobbling power that was just a little short of the all conquering BMW M5 of 5 years ago. Doing duty in the heavier X6 meant that the engine, now fitted with a 6-speed auto, had to be toned down to a tamer 240km/h speed limit. This engine has that rare quality of being able to deliver 400Nm of torque between 1,300rpm-5,000rpm, while still willing and able to rev to a redline of 6,250rpm, just like a sports car engine. It's efficient in an engineering thermal dynamics sense, doing 10.52km/liter highway consumption on 100 octane Petron Blaze. In some X6 variants, the xDrive has a display icon that shows, in real time, the actual allocation of power and drive to each wheel. It definitely drives like a BMW should.
Chopping roofs to lower aerodynamic drag has had its day in the early 50's when "kustom" cars were the craze and when the low riser [pavement scraping ground clearance] cars became a fad in the 90's. Add the universal trend to bling wheels and the appropriate wheel arches and you have the 4-door coupe craze, even if there are only 3 cars that heeded this call in the beginning. BMW took a page from recent history, blended it with today's tastes and produced another one-off work of art that still drives like a BMW. However one appreciates the shape, it may well be a passing fancy.
The pricetag? 6.8-million Pesos.