BMW X6 M50d

26 Jul, 2012 12:45pm Jack Rix

With its new triple-turbo engine, the X6 M50d is the first diesel to wear the M badge and we've driven it in the UK

Verdict

4
On paper and from behind the wheel the X6 M50d is extremely impressive. The tri-turbo engine’s broad power band and sustained surge of torque is something to behold, while the handling is just as polished as any other X6. The problem is that the X6 40d is £13,000 cheaper, almost as fast and delivers similar sensations on the road. That means that while it's fast and desireable, this car is largely about bragging rights.

Until recently a BMW ‘M’ car represented the pinnacle of handling, always used a petrol engine and was strictly rear-wheel drive. The X6 M50d uses a diesel engine, sends power to all four wheels and weighs well over two-tonnes. So does it really deserve to wear the M badge?

Firstly, it’s not intended to be a full-fat ‘M’ car, instead its a product of BMW’s new M Performance division (other models include the X5 M50d, M550d and M135i) which aims to offer high-performance models with a slightly softer edge. In that respect, the X6 M50d fits in perfectly.

At its heart is an all-new 3.0-litre six-cylinder tri-turbo diesel engine producing 376bhp and a phenomenol 740Nm of torque. The pioneering layout, the first of its kind in the world, uses two small turbos and a third much larger turbo to maximise power across a wide power band. Because the small turbos spin up easily they provide the lag-free throttle response, while the larger unit takes over higher in the rev-range.

It works brilliantly, too. Throttle response is razor sharp and the huge surge of torque starts earlier and finishes later in the rev range. As with all BMW’s six-cylinder diesels it also sounds fantastic, so letting it rev is rewarded with a burbling crescendo from the exhausts.

Adaptive air suspension, self levelling at the rear, comes as standard, but get’s M-specific tweaks to the springs and dampers. Despite these firmer settings, and 20-inch alloys as standard, it rides well and body control is astonishing. Drive quickly down a narrow twisting road and you soon forget how large the X6 is, until a car appears coming in the opposite direction, that is.

The X6 M50d is a brute of a car that cements BMW’s position at the top of the engineering tree, but with other cheaper and almost as accomplished diesels in the X6 range it’s destined to be a rare sight on UK roads.

Disqus - noscript

And BMW wonder why they have an image problem...?

M for mingin'

Key specs

  • Price: £62,260
  • Engine: 3.0-litre six-cyl tri-turbodiesel
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • Power/Torque: 376bhp/740Nm
  • 0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 36.7mpg
  • CO2: 204g/km
  • Equipment: Leather trim, 20-inch alloys, parking sensors, xenon headlights, M Sport suspension, sat-nav, head-up display
  • On sale: Now
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