If you thought all hybrids were eco-friendly and slow, this BMW will change your mind. While the new X6 ActiveHybrid uses electric motors and a battery, it has performance, rather than the environment, as its top priority.
The addition of a pair of electric motors within its four-wheel-drive system cuts fuel consumption and emissions. But diesel versions of the X6 comfortably beat its 28.5mpg and 231g/km figures.
A better comparison would be with the xDrive50i flagship, on which the hybrid X6 is based. And it’s more relevant to look at power and acceleration times than green credentials. By mating the 50i’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 to those electric motors, the X6 ActiveHybrid delivers 77bhp more power, at 485bhp. Torque rises from 599Nm to 780Nm.
This is tempered by a 260kg weight increase. The X6 hybrid tips the scales at 2,525kg, and trails the 50i by two-tenths from 0-62mph, with a time of 5.6 seconds. In town, the SUV cruises on electric power alone at speeds of up to 37mph and for around 1.5 miles. When the V8 kicks in, it’s barely noticeable – there’s a small jolt when you prod the throttle. Otherwise everything is very smooth, seamless and quiet, with the batteries recharged via regenerative braking.
Inside, apart from the silence, your only clue that this X6 is different is the battery meter on the dash and the central screen, which shows how power is being distributed. Owners can’t miss the bonnet bulge necessary to squeeze in the electrics, either. For now, the X6 ActiveHybrid is left-hand drive only – and has a hefty £80,000 price tag.
Rival: Merc ML450 hybrid
As it mates its electric motors to a V6, the Mercedes delivers better economy and emissions, plus it’s cheaper than the BMW, too. Performance trails the X6 by a long way, but it makes a stronger case for itself.
* Price: £78,000 (est)
* Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8/two electric motors
* Power/torque: 485bhp/780Nm
* Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
* Econ/CO2: 28.5mpg/231g/km
* Equipment: Climate control, leather, aux in, alloy wheels