The iconic M series road car from BMW was birthed in 1980, and from that point forward, the series has become a symbol for quality high performance vehicles. In 2007, BMW launched the first x6, allowing consumers to experience the BMW quality and performance in a more comfortable and practical package. Fast forward thirteen years to the unveiling of the 3rd generation 2020 X6 M50i and let me tell you: if the X6 was Bruce Banner, then without a doubt, the newest creation from the German superpower is the Hulk.
The exterior design is smooth but extremely aggressive, and still in keeping with the same regal look and soul of previous X6s. The front somewhat resembles the other X models, yet the grille, spoiler, and vents have been sharpened and enhanced in order to signify the lofty performance. The large, signature kidney-shaped grille sits front and centre and can also be illuminated, delicately lighting up along with the daytime running lights. My tester also had active air slats that close when not needed and maintained a nice polished look to the façade, which I really liked. The Laserlight LED headlights naturally flank the grille and tie in gracefully to the fenders. I genuinely love the overall styling and feel that this X6’s ability to make a statement, at first glance, is undeniable.
As your eyes lead up from the fascia and over the muscular front hood, you notice just how breathtaking the design of the exterior is; the roofline is cut in the style of a Grande Coupe, extending from the front and curving down stylishly to the elongated rear glass and tailgate. The tailgate’s curvature fits the overall size to a tee, perfectly accentuating the wide rear fenders and the L-shaped LED taillights, another design feature I really liked. According to BMW, all this styling is purposeful and offers better downforce and aerodynamics. The dimensions of this X6 have grown slightly, by 26mm in length, 15mm in width, and 42mm in the wheelbase, making the stance all the grander and more animalistic. Reduce the height by 6mm for an improved lower centre of gravity, add active M Suspension, 22-inch wheels, massive rotors, and eye-popping blue M sport brake calipers, and you have a “Sport Activity Vehicle” that has astonishing handling, agility, and stopping power.
On approach, the Comfort Access feature unlocks the car when the driver is within 5 feet, and you’re presented with a surprisingly large and graphic Welcome Light Carpet that not only makes a bold statement but also helps illuminate your surroundings and provides safer entry. The locks engage once you exit a 10-foot perimeter, a luxurious touch that eliminates the fumbling search for a key fob. I must admit, this took some getting used to. Getting in is a smooth affair; the X6 is equipped with soft close doors—no slamming required.
Once inside, it’s easy to notice that the interior is finished with impeccable quality and attention to detail, all the while coddling you in glove-like comfort. The interior of my tester was adorned with black Merino leather with a unique hand-crafted cross-stitching pattern, ornate carbon fibre trim, a beautiful anthracite Alcantara roof liner, and a Walknappa leather dashboard. The extremely comfortable seats are heated and cooled and capable of massaging your entire back, although not something I used often. Like your steering wheel heated? There’s a specific button cleverly paced at the top of the bottom spoke of the steering wheel. I just love smart and sensible design. If keeping your hands warm is not enough, how about heated arm rests to keep the rest of your arms warm on those cold mornings. And if a refreshment (hot or cold) is part of your drive, then activate the heated/cooled cup holders to maintain the temperature for you.
The centre console is gorgeous with the M Sport crystal shift knob being the first to draw your attention. It’s beautifully crafted and matches the futuristic aesthetic provided by the 6-colour ambient lighting that is integrated along the Sky Lounge Panoramic Sunroof. It sets the perfect mood with a light design made up of more than 15,000 light elements.
The design of the dashboard is masterful; it feels organized so that responsible use while driving is as effortless as possible. The centre console integrates nicely into the dash and the fact that the 12.3” centre display doesn’t sit annoyingly high above the dash as it does with some other vehicles is a delicious choice of design. The climate system is well designed with small but very effective LCD screens for effortless control, and they take up very little real estate. The dash is very driver centric and nicely ties into the large, sturdy design of the door handles.
The BMW iDrive 7 interface provides easy control of menus on the screen with a combination of haptic controls, tablet-like touch interface, a new and improved voice control, and a futuristic gesture control which allows the driver to change radio stations, answer phone calls, and adjust volume of entertainment by simply waving their hand at the display using preset motions. A comprehensive and impressive heads up display projects crisp graphics showing your speed, the posted limit, telephone and entertainment lists, navigation map and directional prompts, and other control messages, status, and warning indicators. Other features of the “Driving Assistant Professional” that impressed me included Adaptive Cruise with stop and go, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Auto Lane Change Capability, Frontal Collision Warning, Evasion Assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Traffic Jam Assistant, and more. All designed to deliver comfort and safety and to relieve strain in monotonous situations like stop and go traffic.
The backup assistant is well designed and provides up to 50 metres of assisted reversing. The surround view camera offers an unbelievable birds eye view and makes fitting into tight parking spots a breeze. In addition, an optional drive recorder uses the front and rear cameras to record up to 40 seconds of footage that can be viewed on the central display or extracted via the USB port. There are so many advanced features in this X6 that it would take two articles to cover. BMW is simply setting the bar extremely high when it comes to pairing luxury with innovation and performance.
This M50i is equipped with an immensely potent version of BMW’s 4.4 litre, 8-cylinder, twin power turbocharged engine, delivering a grand 523 horsepower. The powerband comes on gracefully but forcefully, and the tones that bellow out of this gentle monster are throaty and luxurious. There is, however, that controversial feature that amplifies the exhaust tones through the Harman Kardon Surround Sound Audio System with its powerful 464-watt amplifier, which I think simply enhances the driver’s experience while avoiding having a falling out with your neighbours over your obnoxiously noisy sports car. With all that power and noise, this M50i accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.3 chilling seconds. The 8-speed Sport Steptronic Transmission is smooth and incredibly quick when shifting. It works seamlessly with the intelligent all-wheel drive system to deliver impressive traction and agility. Now how about this for exclusivity; this X6 also combines information from the navigation system along with the Active Cruise Control’s radar to shift proactively and select the proper gear for any upcoming road changes and road conditions. The optional 2-axle air suspension system automatically self-levels each individual wheel during operation, which maintains the balance of the car even if it has an uneven load in its cabin. The height can also be manually adjusted by choosing between 5 different modes. It can be raised up to 40mm above standard height for off road driving or lowered by 40mm for loading and unloading.
With over 445,000 X6s sold over the last decade since its inception, BMW continues to improve its line of Sport Activity Coupes to the point of mastery. Simply put, the X6 M50i is a beast with heaps of performance and innovation. At the same time, it can be quite the gentleman on the road, flawlessly meshing practicality with a joyous and exciting driving experience. Frankly, I could never have enough time to test this vehicle because it is such a pleasure to drive.