“Behold! BMW’s answer to the question nobody asked!” said the blowhard, know-it-all as he climbed out of the X6 for the first time, seven years ago at the Canadian International Auto Show. Over the past seven years, that smart ass was shown that, on average, for a thousand Canadians every year, the X6 is the answer to “What high-fashion luxury machine should I buy?”
Full disclosure: that blowhard was the arrogant jerk writing this review.
On very rare occasion, there have been a few instances when this opinionated auto writer has fashioned pre-conceived opinions before actually spending any time driving the vehicle in question. Regrettably, the X6 is just such an example.
And so in the interest of fairness and good, investigative journalism, a full week has been spent driving the X6, parking it in my garage, loading it up with people and cargo, photographing it and generally just trying to understand why someone would buy one instead of one the segment’s best competitors.
Of course, BMW would like you to believe that their Sport Activity Coupe has no competitors, figuring that with its aggressively sloped roofline and fastback design, it makes it a truly unique offering in all of automotivedom. Perhaps there is good reason for this. Maybe most people don’t want a modern interpretation of an AMC Eagle. The company’s marketing team conjures up images of athletic, outdoorsy (and clearly affluent) men (their target demographic skews male) who seek a single fashionable machine to wear the sports coupe and SUV uniforms simultaneously.
The trouble is, physics and mathematics automatically preclude the X6 from succeeding at either. A tall, heavy vehicle will never drive like a sports coupe, and a squashed, fastback crossover will never possess the volume to contain the people and gear that a traditional SUV will, so we end up with a vehicle that excels only at compromising. But it’s a formula that clearly works for some as the sales numbers suggest and since Mercedes-Benz has recently pulled the wraps off their upcoming ML-based version.
Before you assume I’m anti-Bimmer by nature, consider that I have owned more BMWs than any other brand and consider the X5 – the SUV on which the X6 is based before it undergoes its arse-ectomy – the absolute top choice in the category.
The designers at BMW have made an effort to give the X6 a more aggressive stance than its X5 sibling. Although both cars use the same wheelbase, the X6 is slightly longer than the more utilitarian Bimmer, plus it rides on a wider track and cuts a 60 mm lower profile. The front three-quarter view is arguably more attractive than the X5 and it’s just the aggressively sloped tail end that becomes so polarizing. Also, although our press vehicle normally wears 20-inch wheels, for the winter months, it’s riding on a minus-one size set of wheels and snow boots. Never has a set of 19-inch wheels looked so tiny and lost as it does inside the big wheel wells of the X6.