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First look: BMW breaks another mould with X6

Unclassified: BMW says its all-new X6 creates a vehicle category of its own.

BMW combines X-car grip with a coupe-like roof to create the long-awaited X6 concept

11 Sep 2007

IT HAS been talked about, spied in testing and even appeared in BMW’s own home video with its designer, Chris Bangle. Now, the all-new X6 has officially been revealed at the Frankfurt motor show – and it appears to live up to its claim of being a segment-busting coupe-crossover.

Riding high on long-travel suspension and specially-developed 21-inch Y-spoke alloys but featuring a sweeping, B-pillarless side profile that begins with an exaggerated BMW kidney grille but ends abruptly in a convincingly compact rear-end, the five-door “Concept X6” looks more like a hatchback than the X5 wagon upon which it is based.

Just as it did when it presented the X5-previewing Sport Activity Concept in 1999 (and when it followed it up with the production X3 in 2003), BMW says the X6 “Sport Activity Coupe” heralds the creation of a new market segment.

There’s no doubt the coupe-like roofline, far narrower glasshouse – complete with Hoffmeister kink at rear – and massively pumped-up wheel-arches give the X6 a load more presence than the already imposing new X5.

Aiding its aggressive look is the fact it rides so far off the road yet has super-short overhangs, individual outboard exhaust outlets, milled aluminium front and rear scuff plates to match the side steps, and unique wide-set tail-lights that accentuate its wide wheel tracks.

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“The BMW Concept X6 is pure driving dynamics - an absolute trendsetter in the all-wheel drive segment,” said chairman of the BMW AG board, Dr Norbert Reithofer.

“The BMW Concept X6 is a true BMW. And I can promise you that we will deliver a series model which is very similar to this concept car,” he said.

Of course, BMW says the X6 concept “drives like a pure BMW” and new technology includes BMW Dynamic Performance Control.

Claimed to “elevate typical BMW sheer driving pleasure to a new benchmark”, DPC combines with the X5’s xDrive all-wheel drive system to vary torque delivery between the rear wheels to maintain traction under power and lift-off.

According to BMW, by varying the distribution of drive forces between the rear wheels “for perfect stability, dynamic traction and forward motion”, DPC offers higher lateral acceleration and optimum directional stability when accelerating out of a bend.

Even more significantly, the just as Benz showed its petrol-electric ML450 at Frankfurt and Porsche will launch its Cayenne Hybrid within two years, BMW has chosen its latest SUV to showcase its new focus on hybrid power.

Hence, the X6 concept was also presented with our first look at BMW’s petrol-electric hybrid drive technology, a modular system that also debuted at Frankfurt in models from DaimlerChrysler and General Motors, BMW’s joint-venture project partners in the Global Hybrid Cooperation.

The so-called BMW ActiveHybrid is claimed to deliver a 20 per cent increase in fuel efficiency and employs two-mode technology to allow it to be driven with electric power only, with its combustion engine only, or with both.

Like Mercedes and GM, BMW says the modular hybrid drive technology can be rolled out across the range. As in models from its hybrid rivals, the X6AH features a two-mode active transmission based on an electrical continuously variable transmission (ECVT).

The two operating modes (one for low speeds, the other for high speeds) are supplemented by fixed transmission ratios, allowing the drivetrain to run at continuously variable speeds to ensure efficient hybrid functions throughout the car’s operating range.

“This is the first BMW full hybrid: the BMW among hybrid cars,” said Dr Reithofer.

“This is just a preview of how BMW mobility could look in years and decades to come - lower fuel consumption, lower emissions, and with a lot more driving pleasure. This full hybrid is the next logical step in our EfficientDynamics development strategy.

“It is important to discern the difference between BMW technology and other hybrids. We are combining a high-efficiency and high-performance combustion engine with two high-performance electric motors. This is truly unique. It also allows us to make use of the hybrid's efficiency advantage across a much wider speed range,” he said.

“The BMW Hybrid offers substantially higher driving dynamics. A hybrid developed by BMW will always be a car that reflects BMW sheer driving pleasure.” Mr Reithofer said the hybrid X6 will be available to (European) customers in 2009.

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