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BMW's facelifted X6 gets a powerful diesel engine to take on Porsche's Cayenne

27 Jun 2012

A NEW triple-turbo engine – the world’s most powered inline six-cylinder diesel – in a new M-enhanced model, the M50d, is the highlight of a facelifted X6 SUV range from German manufacturer BMW.

The first overhaul for the ‘Sports Activity Coupe’ since its launch in 2008, the new X6 otherwise gets superficial tweaks such as a rear bench seat to seat three (instead of two) and adaptive LED headlamps on X6 M flagship.

The new tri-turbo 3.0-litre diesel engine – which also becomes available in the related X5 – produces a whopping 280kW of power and 740Nm of torque in the new variant.

The M50d also marks the debut of BMW’s M Performance sports level – sort of a halfway house between the standard models and the hardcore M flagships.

Such is the performance of the engine with its two small high-pressure turbos and one large low-pressure unit that the 2.2-tonne vehicle can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds – faster than its petrol V8 xDrive50i stablemate.

At the same time, it uses just 7.7 litres of diesel per 100km on the combined fuel test.
Model release date: 1 June 2012 to 1 January 2015

Previous model

E71 X6

Released: August 2008
Ended: June 2012
Family Tree: X6

UNIQUE styling, SUV proportions, twin-turbo engines, technology-enhanced sports car handling and ultra-niche positioning formed the hallmarks of the BMW X6 ‘Sports Activity Coupe’.

BMW described it as “a blend of the strengths of the BMW X5 and the BMW 6 Series Coupe”.

In fact, the X6 is derived from the second-generation E70 series X5 SUV – itself loosely based on the E60 5 Series – and is similarly built at BMW’s US production line in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

However, while X6 and X5 shared much of their mechanicals, understructure and interior, they had no body panels in common.

Two well-specified all-wheel-drive models were available from launch: a twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder petrol known as the xDrive35i, and the diesel-powered xDrive35d. January 2009 saw the debut of the twin-turbo V8-powered xDrive50i.

With the aid of two turbochargers working on three cylinders each, the xDrive35i produced 225kW of power at 5800rpm and 400Nm of torque at 1300-5000rpm.

Meanwhile, the xDrive35d produced 210kW at 4400rpm and 580Nm from 1750 to 2250rpm.

Both X6 engines were mated to the ZF six-speed automatic transmission common to most contemporary BMWs, recalibrated and retuned for ‘sporty’ response.

Steering wheel paddle shifters also made their first appearance in this level of BMW, but no manual gearbox was offered, despite the car’s sporty aspirations.

BMW decided to go after the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG with the X6 M in late 2009. Under the bonnet was an M GmbH-fettled twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8.

Get the full story: BMW has bolted twin turbos on to the X6's V8, pumping out 600Nm of torque

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