One of the few things most folks can agree on is that the BMW X6 has been one of the most controversial products the Bavarian maker has ever produced.
With its aggressive nose and steeply raked roofline, it boasted many of the basic visual hallmarks of a classic BMW sports coupe. But it also had the high-riding heft of an SUV. For its part, BMW dubbed the X6 a Sport Activity Coupe when it made its debut in 2009. And love it or loathe it, the quirky hatchback has inspired a flood of similar designs from BMW and its competitors.
Whether you want more – or wish it would go away, the BMW X6 is back for 2015 in a second-generation update that will see the maker take several steps that it hopes will expand the model’s appeal. That includes the addition of a new rear-drive version, as well as a more powerful V-8 option.
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Like the more conventional X5, the 2015 version of the X6 maintains some key styling attributes, including its oversized double-kidney grille, the long hood, long wheelbase, short overhangs and cab-rearward passenger compartment. The big difference is the more pronounced, coupe-like roofline that has been the center of the X6 debate.
There aren’t many significant visual changes for 2015. And most appear to be designed to improve what automotive beancounters like to call “economies of scale.” That means the hood, headlights and grille are effectively shared with the latest-generation X5.
There are also some important new aerodynamic details, such as the Air Curtains fed from the outer air intakes – and designed to reduce wind drag around the front wheels – as well as the Air Breathers on the front fenders.
The interior, meanwhile, also has largely been lifted from the cabin of the BMW X5.
One surprise may come when checking the stats for cargo space, a weakness to begin with for a “utility” vehicle that, with the original X6 was short on utility. Where the original Sport Activity Coupe had a modest 59.7 cubic feet of cargo space, the latest take drops that to a mere 53.9 cf.
With the launch of its new i family, including the pure battery-electric i3, as well as the plug-in i8 sports car, BMW has put an emphasis on lightweighting, with plenty of carbon fiber and other exotic materials. The new X6 gets an aluminum hood, plastic fenders and other lightweight components – cutting its mass by about 55 pounds.
Along with the aerodynamic improvements, that should translate into both better performance and improved fuel economy, though EPA numbers have yet to be released.
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For 2015, BMW will expand the powertrain options to include a new rear-drive model, th X6 sDrive35i – powered by the maker’s 300-horsepower TwinPower Turbo inline-six. The rest of the line-up will remain all-wheel-drive, including the updated BMW X6 xDrive 50i. That package gets another 45 horsepower out of its 4.4-liter V-8 for 2015, at 445 hp racing from 0 to 60 in just 4.8 seconds, or 0.4 seconds than the old model. There’s also an xDrive version of the TwinPower I-6.
European buyers will have access to three diesel packages, and the X6 could be the next U.S. model to get an oil-burner option, as well. Also look for a new version of the X6 M to follow, and according to some reports, it could make a whopping 600 horsepower, enough to overcome whatever sins it might have in some eyes.
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