Before we get into the nitty-gritty for the current BMW X6, a little history. The letter X was first used by BMW three decades ago to indicate four-wheel drive, which it still does with the XDrive nomenclature. During the eve of the New Millennium, “X” evolved into a new model for the company in the X5, the first so-called Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) that allowed BMW to expand into the realm of luxury off-road capability.
Further innovations brought about another first: the debut of a Sports Activity Coupe (SAC). Not to be confused with an actual two-door vehicle, the SAC took the essence and sporting nature of a traditional sports coupe and applied it to the SAV concept. Thusly, the X6 was born.
That was over 10 years ago, and the X6 has now entered its second generation appearing a lot meaner and more powerful. A new longer and leaner headlight design flows into a reworked dual kidney grille, proving my preceding point. As with all the other family member redesigns, there are now familiar slashed air vents ahead of the front doors that help dissipate turbulent air to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics.
The interior of the previous generation could hardly be described as Spartan, but there would be something amiss if the premium automaker didn’t up the stakes considerably with the introduction of version two. Sitting down on the ridiculously supple camel-coloured leather seats is like slipping on a pair of worn-in fine Italian leather gloves.
Aside from the obvious upgrade in upholstery, technology receives a bump in the form of BMW’s ConnectedDrive infotainment system. A widescreen 10.2-inch monitor is perched above the centre air vents and acts as the command centre for entertainment, driver settings and information. The extra width comes in handy because in navigation mode, a map is always present on the side of the screen even when you’re inputting an address change, for instance. Using modern camera wizardry, there’s also a handy overhead view of the vehicle that pops up on the display and warns you if you’re getting too close to another object while in traffic or parking.
Available with two powertrain choices in Canada, my tester was the more powerful xDrive50i variant with the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 motor. I guarantee that the moment you throw the car in Sport or Sport Plus mode, apply the throttle and hear the full-blown roar of the mammoth engine, you will completely forget you’re in a large SUV/SAC. The 445 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque - up 45 hp and 29 lb-ft from previously - is capable of propelling all 2,345 kilograms from 0-100 km/h in under five seconds.
For those times where a more composed ride is called for, there is an Eco mode and the default Comfort that keeps the performance at a lower boil and fuel economy somewhat in check - but don’t get your hopes up. Driving like a perfect gentleman (most of the time), my average consumption was 17.4 L/100 km in mixed city and highway conditions.
The 2015 BMW X6 is built in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Highlights (as tested):
MSRP: $83,190 (base)
Motor: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
Horsepower: 445 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 479 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed Steptronic automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 17.4 L/100 km city/highway combined (observed)