2015 BMW X6 First Look
Same Form, But a Bit More Function
BMW has already recommitted to the fastback SUV trend with the 2015 X4, and now it's doubling down with the 2015 BMW X6. And the automaker believes it has good reason to, as more than 250,000 units of the outgoing X6 have been sold around the world since its debut in 2008. The new X6 follows in the footsteps of the X5, maintaining the last model's shape but adding a few significant updates.
The X6 maintains the outgoing model's sleek, coupe-like profile, but gets dual-round headlamps that connect to the kidney grilles as they do on other modern BMWs. Those lamps feature a chrome strip outlining the bottom edge within the housings, as well as standard Xenon headlights. Adaptive LED headlights are optional, but the front end's EfficientDynamics aero enhancements come standard. The 2015 X6 gets the same aerodynamics-aiding embellishments found on other BMWs, including an Air Curtain front valance, Air Deflectors on the front wheel arches, and Air Breather vents behind the front fenders -- and just as they do on the X5, those vents forgo the characteristic boomerang shape seen on other new BMW models. Those features help give the 2015 X6 a drag coefficient of 0.34, according to BMW. In back, the X6 gets new three-dimensional LED light strips within the traditional notched taillights. This gives the rear lamps a new look while retaining the same basic shape. A matte silver underbody protector can be seen in the lower bumper between the dual exhaust tips.
Though it looks like not much has changed, the 2015 X6 has shed a few pounds compared to the old model. BMW says that the new SUV has lost between 35 and 45 pounds, depending on model. The Bavarian automaker achieved this using the same tricks it employed on the 2014 BMW X5, including using ultra-high-strength steels in the body, aluminum for the hood, thermoplastics in the fenders, and magnesium in the instrument cluster support and dash. Use of high- and ultra-high-tensile-strength steels, along with hot-stamped steels, in the body also helps improve torsional stiffness compared to the previous model. Electric power steering further reduces weight, and adds Servotronic speed-sensitive power assistance. Weight was also removed by going to a double-wishbone, double-pivot front suspension, which joins BMW's tried-and-true integral rear suspension design. The front suspension changes save 4.4 pounds and contribute to a "virtually 50:50 weight distribution," according to BMW.
Engines are mostly carryover for 2015, with the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, rated at an even 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, powering the xDrive all-wheel drive model and new rear-drive sDrive variant. With either drive layout, BMW estimates the turbo-six-powered X6 will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds flat. That's likely a conservative number, as an X6 xDrive35i with the previous six-speed automatic reached the same speed in 5.9 seconds in our tests. All 2015 X6 models receive BMW's eight-speed automatic, including the X6 xDrive50i model, which gets a bump in power over its predecessor. Like the other models in the BMW stable powered by the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, the X6 xDrive50i benefits from increased power, up 50 hp and 30 lb-ft from its predecessor to 450 hp and 480 lb-ft. Those extra ponies come from the addition of Valvetronic variable valve timing technology, and help the X6 xDrive50i achieve 0-60 mph in an estimated 4.8 seconds -- 0.4 seconds faster than the previous SUV's estimate.
Inside, the X6 gets BMW's current layered dash layout and free-standing central screen. That screen measures 10.2 inches and is still controlled by a center console-mounted iDrive knob. The dash features a Softskin surface with black decorative stitching. Poplar wood tops high-gloss black trim, which is bordered by an accent strip of Pearl Gloss Chrome, Brushed Aluminum, Fineline Oak, Fineline Striped Wood, or Fineline Pure Wood. Ambient light LEDs are hidden throughout the cabin, and can be changed to emit blue, white, or orange light, or a combination of the three. The 2015 X6 gets a 40:20:40 split folding rear bench seat, which can be collapsed to increase cargo volume to a maximum of 53.9 cubic-feet. A power tailgate is standard on the X6, with a hands-free, foot-activated unit available through the Comfort Access feature. A power glass sunroof is standard, and is five inches longer than that of the previous model.
Two trim levels are available on the X6, including xLine and M Sport. The xLine model gets stainless steel-finished underbody protection pieces in the front and rear bumpers, along with lighted aluminum front door sill plates. The xLine also gets 20-inch V-spoke alloy wheels in a two-tone finish. M Sport models, on the other hand, receive more aggressive bodywork including larger front valance intake openings, unique side skirts, and a rear diffuser insert. The kidney grille slats are finished in matte aluminum, while the exhaust tip is high-gloss chrome. The M Sport also gets BMW Individual series high-gloss Shadow Line exterior trim and 19-inch wheels as standard (20-inch lightweight M alloys are available).
The X6 occupies a niche that we're still not sure needs to exist, but with Mercedes working on a fastback SUV of its own, you can bet that the category isn't going anywhere anytime soon. With that, we're eager to see what this new X6 can do when it arrives on U.S. dealer lots in late 2014.