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2009 BMW X6 SAV Review

2009 BMW X6 SAV Review (select to view enlarged photo)
2009 BMW X6 SAV

  • SEE ALSO: 2009 BMW X6 exclusive in-depth Video Report
  • 2009 BMW X6 sold out before it's on the road


    By Henny Hemmes
    The Auto Channel

    SPARTANBURG; Only seven months ago, BMW unveiled their X6 concept car at the IAA auto show in Frankfurt, Germany. The concept looked ready for production and that was exactly what it was. In January, we was the final model celebrated its world premiere and just recently we were able to drive the new Bimmer.

    When introducing the X5, BMW refused to define it as an SUV and calls the X5 an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle). The same happens with the X6, that the Germans define as a Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) and herewith want to introduce a new niche in the SUV-segment. But BMW also generated criticism as a lot of people would never call the four-door X6 a coupe. Therefore it is too high on its wheels and above all, a true sports coupe only has two doors. There were, of course, also doubts about the introduction of another big gas guzzling model, but in the mean time BMW’s strategy has been proven right: this year’s production of 30,000 has been sold out already. That is what Dr. Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s chairman of the board said on May 8, during the annual shareholders meeting.

    Built in South Carolina

    The X6 is built on the chassis of the X5 on the same line in the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant. Just recently BMW also announced an investment of 3.4 billion dollar to increase production capacity of the Spartanburg plant from 160,000 to 240.000 units by 2012. Until then, the Z4 will be American built, but then, it will have to make room for the upcoming X3 and Z4 production will move to Germany. The Last January Spartanburg started with the X6. Upon its market introduction by the end of May, the X6 will be available with a choice of two petrol engines, but also a hybrid model is announced. For Europe and other markets, BMW offers a diesel model with the X6 xDrive35d. North America will get the 2008 X6 as xDrive35i ($53,275) and xDrive50i ($63,775).

    The X6 is 192 in. long, 77.1 in. wide and 66.5 in. high. With a full load of technology and luxury, the curb weight is nearly 5,000 lb.ft.

    The xDrive35i with the in line 3.0-liter twin turbo six cylinder engine has 300 hp and 300 of torque. The xDrive50i with the new 4.4-liter V-8 has 400 hp and 450 torque. The V-8 marks some ‘firsts’ as well, as it is the first time an 8-cylinder petrol engine gets twin turbo technology and it is the first time that the turbochargers and catalytic converters are arranged in the V-section between the two cylinder banks.

    Both models have a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift and sports mode, while xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel-drive system.


    An innovation is BMW’s Dynamic Performance Control (PDC). While xDrive divides the torque between the front and rear axle, depending on the need for grip. In addition, the PDC divides the torque between the left and right rear wheel in on- and off throttle situations. This will minimize under steer that is normally present in most all-wheel drive SUVs. When needed, PDC allows the rear wheels to turn at different speeds. During cornering the outside wheel can accelerate and compensate for the under steer and also helps control the vehicle’s yaw moment. Drivers can see how the torque is divided on the display in the instrument panel. DPC is now part of the Integrated Chassis Management, that controls xDrive, dynamic stability control, electronic damper control, dynamic drive and active steering.

    Fortunately, we could safely test the new system on Michelin’s proving ground in Laurens, SC with the ever fantastic 3.0-liter I-6...

    Especially in slaloms and turns on the wet pavement, Dynamic Performance Control proves its value. In the slalom, the X6 never loses traction. In a split second it sends the torque to the outer rear wheel when the front of the car hints to start to seek the outside of the corner. In the meantime, the steering feels much in control.

    In the turns, it is different: when you come in too fast, stability control takes over with braking and cutting the gas flow to the engine and PDC does the rest.

    With the new V-8 engine under the hood of the X6, we headed for the country. The X6 xDrive50i is, with a weight of nearly 5,000 lb.ft., a heavy vehicle, but it handles like a smaller car. The V-8 proves to be a healthy engine, smooth, never lacking power and always providing fun on the roads of South Carolina. There, the DPC also underlines its qualities. On the freeway the X6 provides a lot of comfort (and style) and it does not give you the impression that you’re driving fast, but beware, you’ll reach forbidden speeds quite easy!


    The X6 has luxury equipment, as you might expect from a premium model. Cruise control with brake function, automatic air condition, electromechanical parking brake, park distance control and dual bi-xenon headlamps are standard.

    Also, the entertainment system with MP3-capable CD drive and Aux-in socket are included in the price. Automatic open and close function for the doors for low-noise closing, a soft close function for the tailgate and a glass slide/tilt roof are among the options. The safety equipment includes six airbags and a system of roll-over sensors. Dual bi-xenon headlamps are standard. The X6 is roomy, also the two seats in the rear offer decent space, provided you are not taller than 5 ft 11. There is no third rear seat because of weight reduction (It would require an extra structure because of safety regulations). The advantage is that there is no obstruction of the drivers’ view through the rear window, that is already minimal due to the low sweeping roof line. Indeed, that in itself is one of the characteristics of a sports coupe…

    2009 BMW X6 Specifications
    Model: 		    BMW xDrive35i	BMW xDrive 50i
    Engine:		    3.0 liter inline six	4.4-liter V-8
    Horspower:	    300 hp @5800-6250	        400 hp @5500-6400
    Torque:		    300 lb.-ft. @1300-5000  450 lb.-ft. @1750-4500
    Transmission:       6-speed Steptronic automatic with manual mode
    Wheelbase:	    192 in.
    Length/width/height:	115.5/77.1/ 66.5 in
    Cargo volume:	20.1-51.2 cu.ft.(rear seat backs up/down)		
    Curb. Weight:	    2.894 lb.			5.269 lb.
    Max. trailer load:  5.952 lb.			7.715 lb.		
    Tyres:              225/5 R19
    0-60 mph:	    6.5 s			5.3 s
    EPA city/hwy econ:  15/20			N/A
    Fuel capacity:	    22.5 gal.
    Price:		    $ 53.275*		$ 63.775*
    *= including destination charge

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