The drive up to Mahabaleshwar in the Western Ghats is a good way to assess any car but in the brand new X6, it took me just a few corners of the twisty Ambenali Ghat to figure out what this Sport Activity Vehicle, as BMW calls it, was all about.
Let’s start with the good bits. The handling is simply brilliant and BMW’s claim that this sporty SUV handles like a sports car is no exaggeration. In fact, the sharp and quick steering makes it like a go-kart on steroids and the way this SUV darts from corner to corner simply defies its 2075kg weight. Grip from those 255/50R19 tyres is astonishing and though you sit quite high up in typical SUV fashion, there’s hardly any body roll. The X6 is an absolute delight on twisty roads and that’s not something you would say about an SUV. But this isn’t just another SUV and that’s a bad bit about it too.
Despite the height, the massive 212mm ground clearance and those huge 19-inch tyres, you still have to tiptoe through potholes in a very un-SUV-like manner. The minimal suspension travel and short, stiff sidewalls of the run-flat tyres conspire to give a jarring ride over rutted roads. At low speeds too, the ride is quite unsettled and the X6 fidgets on bad surfaces. And that’s a shame because you expect to tame every pothole with an SUV and in the case of the X6 it’s the other way around.
The X6 is powered by the same 3-litre, in-line six we’ve seen in the X5 and performance is similar. The dash to 0-100kph was dispatched in 8.25 seconds and given the road it will canter to 180kph in 32.64sec. The X6 cruises effortlessly and is a brilliant car to drive long distances. Like most BMW ’boxes, this one is also slow on the downshift and you are clicking away on the brushed silver buttons but have to wait till the engine revs drop substantially before you can move down a cog.
The X6 comes with a long list of features. The simplified iDrive system is packed with all sorts of functions and information that will keep you engrossed when you are stuck in traffic. But the best party trick is the new reversing camera which gives you a unique top view of the road through cameras under the outside mirrors and tail-gate.
As far as practicality goes, the X6 scores a big zero. The luggage area is tiny and you wouldn’t want to ask your friends to squeeze into the two small bucket seats at the back. Priced at Rs 70.76 lakh, this car with its ‘love it-hate it’ styling is a bit of self-indulgence but then buying a car is not always a rational decision.