It's rated at 480 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. Who needs a 555-horsepower, 500 pound-foot X6 M?
How does it work? Pretty seamlessly for anyone accustomed to BMW's powerful, large and bank vault-heavy X5 and X6. In a largely stop-and-go urban drive and freeway drive in Miami Beach and surrounding environs, the X6 ActiveHybrid felt like a softer-edged X6 M. We felt a regen-induced drivetrain jerk just twice in about 150 miles. As a fuel-sipper, though, it's less impressive, shutting down the gas engine at stoplights, like a mild hybrid or a Euro-spec car with a stop-start system. Feather-foot the throttle from the stoplight, and you get maybe three yards of electric-only drive. We never got near the 37-mph optimum all-electric speed.
While Metro Miami offers scant opportunity to handle any car or truck, one fast onramp revealed a bit more compliance than what we remember of other X6s. The ActiveHybrid does have stiffer shocks and springs than conventional six and V-8 models to accommodate an extra 550 pounds for the hybrid system. The hybrid battery accounts for 187 pounds of that added weight.
Added suspension compliance is welcomed in the X6, which has erred on the side of harshness, to now. The ActiveHybrid's new electric power steering is more impressive, and BMW is pretty proud of it. It has the kind of steady, light touch combined with positive feedback that you'd expect of good BMW steering. Again, this comes with the caveat that quick turns on our route were few and far between.
Fast or full-throttle launches, and freeway 65-mph to 90-mph passing acceleration is very impressive -- it feels quicker and faster than the conventional twin-turbo 4.4-liter model, and just a bit shy of the M. Driving the X6 Active Hybrid presents a conundrum. On one hand, the hybrid system wants you to feather-foot it around town and urge the fuel economy meter up (ours was a European-spec model...our best fuel economy of 12.7-liters per 100 kilometers fell short of the European cycle official average of 9.9-liters per 100). Your average will go south once you get the ActiveHybrid on the open road and use all that boost, from the twin turbos and the battery. If you don't want to use this X6 in that manner, you're much better off shopping your local Toyota dealer.