"Perfectly pointless." After taking the X6 xDrive 35i home for a night, that's how editor-in-chief MacKenzie summarizes the X6. It's a damning critique of BMW's latest as a flawless execution of a worst-of-both-worlds concept: sport-coupe practicality with SUV-like handling.
Not only does his characterization misinterpret reams of BMW's finest marketing literature, it directly contradicts the opinion of resident snapper Vance. He took the same Bimmer to San Diego the next day and came back declaring the X6 the sexiest German import since Heidi Klum.
Who's right? Who's wrong? We decided to find out by pitting the X6 xDrive 35i against its clearest rival, the 2009 Infiniti FX35.
If standard American SUVs are basic-blue Wal-Mart Levis, these two are dual-ring-spun, left-hand-twill ultra-skinnies from Europe and Japan. They are the very definition of slaves to fashion, the practical made impractical, but oh-so-stylish.
They're compromised designs, to be sure, both surgically enhanced for va-va-voom at the expense of utility. The Infiniti's 2009 FX35 is less overt about it. As always, it seats five in a comparatively tighter cabin than its more traditional SUV rivals.
The chop-top X6 is less subtle: The measuring tape reveals X5 roots and a subsequent size advantage. The BMW is 0.7 inch longer, 2.2 inches wider, 1.5 inches taller, with a wheelbase 1.9 inch longer than the FX's. At 4987 pounds, the X6 is 694 pounds heavier than the FX.
Admittedly, the X6 is the looker of the two. A quick office poll puts the Bimmer ahead by a margin of nearly three to one, but more telling is how emphatic the X6 supporters are, while FX fans seem almost apologetic. Compare response from photog Vance, "I guarantee that for the first six months they're on sale, the X6 will be the hottest ride in L.A.!" to that of associate editor Harwood, "Call me crazy, but I like how the FX looks."
Senior editor Kiino sums up the FX this way, "Infiniti didn't change much with the styling, but then again, it didn't really have to-the current car still looks wild, aggressive, and fresh." Maybe, but technical editor Reynolds finds the FX to be "horrific looking." Granted, the Infiniti has its issues. It's weird looking from the front three-quarter angle, where many of its zaftig curves all seem to coincide. The grille is much wider than before and composed of dark-chrome plastic waves rather than slats. Fiercely restyled headlights are pushed far to the corners, wrapping around like eyes on a hammerhead shark. Add in the chrome side gills and the whole effect is a bit fishy. "Up close, the FX's front end resembles a catfish's mouth and the grille is rather gaudy, but from a distance it looks mean," says Kiino.