27 September 2023

Master Blaster Tops Bmw Suvs

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By Paul Gover.

Bathurst 1000 race winner Luke Youlden loves the BMW X6.

His favourite is the M50i, the full-fat V8 that is right at home with Youlden hustling it around a racetrack.

My 10-year-old son is also a fan, not for the performance but for all the high-tech gadgets including variable night lighting in the cabin, soothing programs for the seat-aircon-sunroof, and much, much more. He can play happily in the X6 for hours.

Me? Not so much.

Despite the global sales success of the first SUV coupe, a class that BMW pioneered to satisfy people who had already owned a couple of its beaut-but-boxy X5 wagons, it’s always seemed to me as the answer to a question no-one asked.

I’m wrong, clearly, because Porsche and Audi and Mercedes now also have SUV coupes in their line-ups and they are very popular. Even Bentley is considering a more curvy development of its hulking Bentayga SUV.

But, to get back to the car, the X6 M50i is a brilliant big beastie with a thumping twin-turbo V8 engine, every luxury you can imagine – although there are still some extra-cost options if you must – and final finishing that would satisfy the most finicky buyer.

The X6 package is now refined into a second generation with a full luxury package. That means the $155,000 starting price is fine for the class and competition, and it ticks all the right boxes from heated/cooled/massage leather seats to a heads-up instrument display, brilliant sound system and 22-inch alloys.

It has brilliant infotainment display screens, an intuitive operating system, and even the more-intrusive safety systems – particularly lane-keep assist that fights the driver on twisty roads – can be turned off or minimised.

The front seats are super-comfy, the transmission is slick and the various driving modes – including the one that liberates all the power and torque of the impressive V8 – are well calibrated and fit for purpose.

But dig a big deeper, and consider the practicality of the car, and there are doubts.

The boot is pretty big but requires a big lift over the back end, the rear seat is only comfortable for two adults, the vision – in all directions, but particularly out the back window – is restricted, and it is a very heavy and thirsty operator.

It rides nicely enough on smooth surfaces but, with sports suspension and big wheels, things can definitely get bouncy and unpleasant over uneven surfaces.

No-one is going to take this X6 off-road, but it does have all-wheel drive that helps with the high-performance potential, turning the grip into go. And the test car also has four-wheel steering that trims the turning circle and makes parking – helped by cameras and sensors in all directions – light and easy.

Even so, the X6 is still a ‘look at me’ SUV that’s more about style than substance. It’s great for intimidating other road users, and making a statement at your favourite upscale restaurant, but for me it’s just too much of a good thing.

BMW X6 M50i
Price: from $155,900
Power: 390kW/750Nm
Position: Flagship sports SUV
Plus: Technology, thumping performance
Minus: Practicality, price, thirst, polarising looks
THE TICK: Not for me.

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