In-depth reviews

BMW X6 review - Engines, performance and drive

The best-driving X6 yet, with good ride and handling and ample performance whichever engine you opt for. X6M’s ride is punishing, however.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

£59,070 to £88,185
  • Handling
  • Strong engine range
  • Comfortable cabin
  • No real benefit over an X5
  • High running costs
  • Poor ride in X6M

It’s been a long time since SUVs as large and heavy as the X6 have been sluggards. BMW was among the first to give an SUV a true performance bent with the original X5 in the 1990s and today’s X6 is both quick and a surprisingly adept handler even in its humblest 3-litre diesel form. Inline six and V8 engines are the order of the day, as are eight-speed gearboxes and standard xDrive all-wheel drive. Whichever power unit you go for, there’s both performance and refinement in spades, along with smooth shifts from the auto ‘box.

It’s capable in the corners too. You’ll not notice a whole lot of difference between the X6 and its more practical X5 equivalent, despite the sportier styling - perhaps only a touch more precision to the steering of the X6 and marginally less roll, perhaps on account of there being less metal above your head. But in class terms the X6 drives well, and the ride is very good too. Well, with the exception of the X6M Competition - it might have mighty performance and physics-defying levels of grip and control, but the trade-off is a ride that crashes and thumps on British roads.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

A pair of petrol and a pair of diesels power the mainstream X6 range. The xDrive40i, 30d and 40d models are all based around 3-litre inline six-cylinder units while the M50i uses a 4.4-litre V8. All move the car along with quite some conviction, with even the 282bhp 30d enough to motivate the X6 to 62mph in 6.1 seconds. The 40i petrol is a mite quicker, its 328bhp turbocharged six good for the same sprint in 5.7 seconds, while the 40d is even more potent on paper and on the road, with a 335bhp output and the ability to reach 62mph two tenths quicker than its petrol equivalent.

The X6 M50i sits top of the tree though (with one qualification, which we’ll come to in a second). Its 4.4-litre turbocharged V8 makes 523bhp, making it capable of 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds. All bar the 30d, meanwhile, will run up to a 155mph limiter given a long and legal enough stretch, while that entry-level diesel will still manage 143mph.

And that exception for the M50i being top of the pile? That’s the X6M Competition of course, whose own iteration of the 4.4-litre turbo V8 makes 616bhp, 750Nm of torque and will dispatch the 0-62mph measure in 3.8 seconds. Top speed is the same 155mph, but as ever with M Competition vehicles you can ask BMW nicely to raise that limit, which brings top speed up to 180mph.

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021
What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven
Skoda vRS range

What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven

To mark 20 years of Skoda’s vRS badge, we rounded up some of the performance cars from the past two decades that have worn the subtle green badge
17 Sep 2021