From £46,435
Adds a dose of reality to the X6 M’s madcap formula with a groundbreaking engine that may shine brighter elsewhere

Our Verdict

The BMW X6 has challenging looks but impressive dynamics. It is good value too

The BMW X6 is a hard riding but generally accomplished big soft-roader. Just make sure you can live with the looks

  • First Drive

    BMW X6 M50d first drive

    Adds a dose of reality to the X6 M’s madcap formula with a groundbreaking engine that may shine brighter elsewhere
  • First Drive

    BMW X6 ActiveHybrid

    Despite the complexity of the technology the X6 hybrid is remarkably simple to drive

What is it?

A dusting of styling tweaks murmur the BMW X6’s facelift: a broader grille, repositioned fogs and revised rear lights accentuate the car’s existing width, and there are new paint and leather shades.

But the big news is BMW’s new triple-turbo diesel, which becomes the world’s most powerful six-cylinder oil-burner. It’s an evolution of the twin-blown 3.0-litre that powers the 30d (241bhp) and 40d (301bhp), and is the first oil-burner in the M Performance range that sits below whole-milk M cars.

What's it like?

Not that the X6 M50d is poke-starved – its mighty 546lb ft of torque trumps the X6 M by a comfortable 45lb ft. A small, variable-geometry turbo works at low revs, a larger blower joins the fray at 1500rpm, and a second small turbo kicks in at 2600rpm. All this bites 1.2sec from the 40d’s 0-62mph metric, despite a 40kg penalty.

Progress through the turbos’ overlapping dialogue is smooth, though the work of the final two is noticeable as the M50d approaches maximum hurl, and there are ample revs to enjoy. Yet the X6 M’s talent for belittling pace endures here - regular reality checks of the speedo are recommended. Step on the throttle from constant speed and there is brief lag, though, denying BMW’s aspirations of linear progression.

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There’s a distant chug at idle, and mid-range acceleration sounds industrial, but the top end’s timbre is powerful and relatively tuneful. Motorway cruising is as hushed as you’d want. The big 20in wheels yield some road noise, and thump over urban pocks, but you’ll hear the impact more than feel it.

At speed, imperfections bring front-end shudders with the Adaptive Drive dampers in either normal or sport mode, but the anti-roll function is excellent. In league with the accurate, reasonably feelsome steering, it allows uncanny dartiness.

The retuned eight-speed auto ’box is well mapped and decisive, though Sport mode keeps revs so high the noise becomes wearing. Positive-feeling override paddles let you trouble the 5800rpm red line.

Traction off the line is excellent, and continues that way. Only the blinking traction aid light and eager ABS remind you how much work the gizmos are doing to separate you from the physics in play.

Should I buy one?

Adaptive Drive isn’t available on the £49,340 40d, though the M50d’s exterior and interior addenda can be approximated by a £1965 Dynamic Package. 

The M50d’s special alcantara and leather seats are handsome, supportive and grippy, and self-levelling rear suspension and an X6 M-style bonnet bulge further differentiate from the 40d. Heated seats (£305) and sat nav (£1925) are the M50d’s main shortcomings against the six-speed-only, £85,710 X6 M’s kit, but the former’s price and economy advantages easily outweigh such shortfalls if you’re prepared to trade power for torque.

BMW X6 M50d

Price £62,260; Top speed: 155mph (limited); 0-62mph: 5.3sec; Economy: 36.7mpg (combined); CO2: 204g/km; Kerb weight: 2225kg; Engine type, cc: 6 cyls, 2993cc, turbodiesel; Power: 376bhp at 4000-4400rpm; Torque: 546lb ft at 2000-3000rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd auto

Join the debate


20 July 2012

I don't really care which engine BMW install in this Behemoth, it still does not make any sense whatsoever. I'd like to see it under the bonnet of a X5 or 530 estate!

20 July 2012

I'd like this engine in a 3 series!

I like the X6 i'd buy one.

Here's to the crazy ones......

20 July 2012

No doubt an awesome piece of engineering, but at the price, depreciation on a new one will far outweigh the fuel costs of the car.  Might as well have the full fat petrol M version, at least it sounds like a Group N rally car...

20 July 2012

Do you think the 'full fat petrol M' will depreciate any slower!

20 July 2012

A road test of an X6 and there's not 500 scathing comments yet? what's going on?


and what is the point of an X6 anyway Wink

20 July 2012

The X6 is a fine-looking brute, and has the pace to blow so-called sports cars into the weeds.

21 July 2012

The Special One wrote:

The X6 is a fine-looking brute, and has the pace to blow so-called sports cars into the weeds.

Well, perhaps in a Top Trumps at the bar, or between roundabout on the ring road. But good luck on a British B-road. Think I'd spend the cost of the optional sat-nav to buy an MX5.

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

20 July 2012

Ooooh think of those big scary expensive repair bills when that big scary expensive engine goes wrong .

I wonder what this engine costs in comparison to the equivalent V8 petrol . The petrol may well prove more reliable and cheaper to run in the long run .

I can remember when diesels selling point was they were simple to maintain and didnt have much in the way of electrics .

Not this one I fear .

20 July 2012

Reading the review, it really isnt that positive, the figure may be amazing, but the execution sounds lacking, 3 turbos and there is still lag, it doesnt sound very nice, and the front end shudders in normal mode, over £60k and then they have the balls to ask for £305 for heated seats and £2k for a satnav.

It makes no sense whatsoever, in the real world the 35d is all the engine and more you could ever need. 

20 July 2012

The whole point of a performance diesel is to be able to have the go with decent mileage, but I have the suspicion that in this case the moment you begin to exploit the full potential of this engine (beyond an X40d, otherwise what's the point?) that advantage is reduced dramatically.


I, for one, would like to see the mileage figures during your test, and yes, that includes the caning that this version deserves.


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