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BMW X6 coming soon

Closing in on CLS: What the X6 could look like. Digital image: Chris Harris.

BMW confirms the X6 four-door ‘coupe’ will enter production in 2008

28 Mar 2007

AS IF the renewal of two key lifestyle models, the midlife makeover of two volume-selling nameplates and a redesigned M3 super-coupe were not enough to keep BMW Australia sales rolling along in 2007, the Munich car-maker will follow up with two all-new niche luxury models by the end of this decade.

That’s right, hot on the heels of the release of the redesigned 3 Series coupe-convertible and second-generation X5 SUV in April, the local launch of facelifted 1 Series and 5 Series ranges in June and the release of an all-new V8- powered M3 later this year, BMW has let slip it will produce the much-anticipated X6 crossover coupe next year.

BMW AG CEO Norbet Reithofer told US magazine Forbes recently that one of two all-new models it will build in 2008 is the X6 – a crossover based on the new X5 that blurs the lines between coupe and SUV.

The high-riding four-door “coupe” will be built alongside the X5 (as well as the Z4 roadster and coupe) at BMW’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina – proof that it is the massive US market at which the new niche model will be aimed.

However, given BMW builds every one of its models in both left- and right-hand drive – and that Mr Reithofer also told Forbes he expected it to attract more than 200,000 sales per annum – the X6 is odds-on to be released in Australia shortly after its release in the US and Europe in early 2008.

Officially confirmed for production by BMW last week, the X6 is expected to take the X5 concept to radical new heights, featuring a coupe-like roofline and four seats – but it is not BMW’s answer to the popular Mercedes-Benz CLS.

That is expected to come in the shape of yet another all-new niche model in 2009, when BMW should bring to production its so-called Sports Luxury Coupe.

Asked about the X6 in detail, X5 series development project manager Albert Biermann told GoAuto: “It’s easy. You know the 5 Series and 6 Series. Put that on the X5 and you get the picture.”

Mr Biermann said the X6 would be powered by a wide variety of engines, including diesel power, but hinted that a V8 would be most likely to appear first. He also said twin-turbo six-cylinder petrol power (as seen in the 335i) was more likely to motivate it than the V10 from the M5 and M6.

While he also flagged his desire to fit the 580Nm twin-scroll turbo-diesel engine from the 535d into the X5, he said it was unlikely BMW would produce a higher-performance X5 variant than the 4.8i, which already approaches the outputs of the previous X5 4.6is flagship. “That’s what the X6 is for,” he said.

But do not expect a people-mover from BMW. Asked if BMW would provide an answer to Mercedes’ R-class in the shape of the much-speculated V5 Series, Mr Biermann said: “Why would we when it’s a failure?”

14 center imageFrom top: M3 concept, 3 Series convertible, 1 Series facelift and CS1 concept pointing to 1 Series convertible.

Closer to home, BMW’s fourth-generation 3 Series (coupe-) Convertible was officially released on March 24, shortly before the E70 X5 3.0d and 4.8i variants go on sale (April 16), leaving the X5 3.0si to become available from June.

Also arriving mid-year will be facelifted versions of BMW’s 1 Series hatch and 5 Series sedan and wagon – but they will not be powered by BMW’s new direct-injection petrol engines, which are unable to cope with unleaded petrol’s high sulphur content in Australia.

Instead, we will receive upgraded versions of BMW’s current Valvetronic petrol engines, which in 3.0-litre guise offer the same 200kW of peak power as their direct-injection cousins, but only a five per cent reduction in fuel consumption (rather than 20 per cent).

The 1 Series range will also be bolstered by a redesigned all-alloy 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine for the 120d. The 320d, however, will not shed its cast-iron-blocked turbo-diesel engine until its midlife facelift in two years.

The recently revealed three-door version of BMW’s smallest model will not be part of the facelifted 1 Series hatch range – not just because it would be positioned too close to its own MkII Mini hatch, but because BMW Australia is awaiting the reveal of the 1 Series coupe.

Expected to appear at the Frankfurt motor show in September – alongside the production M3 and possibly the X6, which may not emerge until the Detroit show in January – the two-door 1 Series will enter production next year.

Codenamed “Snowflake”, it will be followed by a soft-top convertible derivative within 12 months.

Expect the 1 Series drop-top to start at around $60,000 – around $5000 more than the 1 Series coupe’s starting price and mid-way between the Mini Cooper Cabrio and the 3 Series Convertible.

BMW’s oldest model, the circa-2002 E65/E66 7 Series is also due for replacement before the end of this decade. Codenamed F01, the redesigned 7 Series, like the X6, has been spotted in heavy disguise on roads around Munich.

What's coming from BMW:
E93 3 Series convertible April
E70 X5 4.8i and 3.0d April
E70 X5 3.0si June
E87 1 Series facelift June
E60 5 Series facelift June
E92 M3 coupe October
1 Series coupe 2008
X6 SUV-coupe 2008
7 Series sedan redesign 2009
E90 3 Series sedan facelift 2009
1 Series convertible 2009
Sports Luxury Coupe 2010
E92 3 Series coupe facelift 2010

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