Road tests

BMW X6 Active Hybrid

BMW’s petrol-electric SUV isn’t your average eco model!

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The performance on offer is amazing, but this X6 won’t save the planet! It’s more of a showcase for BMW’s eco technology – and the xDrive35d looks much more tempting. It’s nearly as quick, and returns 34mpg combined economy.

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.

Most Popular

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value
Appreciators: Renault 5

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value

Looking to invest in a modern classic? Here are some cars destined to appreciate in value
4 May 2021
Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer
Ford Escort XR3

Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer

Hot hatches democratised performance, and one of the pioneers, the Ford Escort XR3, is now over 40 years old
5 May 2021
Chinese EV brand NIO enters European market

Chinese EV brand NIO enters European market

NIO will soon start selling its electric vehicles, starting in Europe and likely heading to the UK too
6 May 2021