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Driven: BMW’s X6 range grows up

6 degrees: BMW has sold 260,000 examples of the X6 globally since it went on sale in 2008.

Second-gen BMW X6 to grow sales, despite arrival of Benz’s GLE Coupe

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BMW logo2 Feb 2015

BMW Australia says it welcomes the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe as a direct competitor to its X6, adding that more products in the niche coupe/crossover segment could spur further growth for the sporty high-riding wagon.

The second-generation X6 officially launched last week, kicking off from $115,400, plus on-road costs for the base xDrive30d, but by the end of 2015 it will finally have a rival in the form of Benz’s similarly positioned GLE Coupe.

Speaking with media at the X6 launch in the Yarra Valley, BMW Group Australia head of product and market planning Shawn Ticehurst said his company was “flattered” by the Benz-badged competitor and added that it could “potentially” help lift X6 sales.

“I think a competitor in a way can attract more people to a market,” he said. “Obviously when they launch, it will get its own exposure too at the time and it will be natural that you guys [the media] do comparisons on them. And the customers will do that as well. So yeah I think that’s a good thing.” While conceding that interest in the tiny segment could increase, Mr Ticehurst said it would always remain a small player in the wider BMW line-up.

“These cars are always meant, in some ways, to be niche. We never want cars like this to be volume players. That’s the role of an X6 and X4 or Gran Coupe, they are designed to be cars that have a lower volume expectation.

“So I think GLE Coupe should be a good thing. It will attract attention to this market. But we will always say we were there first. Thanks for coming to the party.” The polarising first-gen X6 lobbed in Australian showrooms in August 2008, and quickly gained a small but loyal following. Sales peaked in 2009 with 573 units shifted and with the model in run-out last year BMW sold 278.

Globally, the X6 – which is built alongside the X3, X4 and X5 at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant – has sold 260,000 units since its launch.

Mr Ticehurst said he believes the new X6 can build on the sales of the superseded model, with the car-maker’s local arm expecting it to attract some new buyers.

“Over its lifecycle, I think it will because the car has been established now. It will have repeat customers and new ones as well. And we kick off the year with it so we have got a full year ahead of us as well.” The X6 arrived in local dealerships last month, with five variants on offer, until the arrival of the hardcore 423kW/750Nm X6 M in a few months time to top the range.

It is also now a five seater, adding an extra seat when compared with the first-gen version.

While pricing for most variants has risen slightly when compared with the outgoing model, BMW says it has packed each version with extra gear.

As previously reported, the base xDrive30d - from $115,400 is up by $4825 and includes $13,500 worth of extras, according to BMW.

Further up the range, the xDrive35i and 40d are priced from $120,700 and $128,400, with the 35i $300 cheaper than before, while the 40d is up by $1000. These variants now include $15,000 worth of additional standard equipment.

The xDrive50i is up by $1525 but includes a whopping $20,000 of extra value and the M50d increases by $1225 but adds $16,000 worth of gear.

The all-wheel drive-only range now includes an eight-speed sports automatic transmission with paddle shifters and launch control, adaptive LED headlights, leather instrument panel, a Driving Assistant safety package, a multifunction instrument display and 20-inch alloy wheels as standard on all variants.

BMW’s Driving Assistant package includes lane departure, collision and pedestrian warnings and a “light” automatic braking function.

More standard gear in the 30d includes cruise control with a braking function, keyless start, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights, extended Bluetooth functions and a 20GB hard drive.

Higher up the range in 50i and 50d guise the X6 gains the Driving Assistance Plus with full autonomous braking, active cruise control, Stop&Go function, park assist, an alarm, four-zone climate control, a Harman/kardon surround sound audio system, digital radio DAB+ and metallic paint.

Safety gear standard across the board includes a surround view camera, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control, hill descent, six airbags and a head-up display.

The 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel driving the 30d gains an extra 10kW of power and 20Nm of torque for an output of 190kW/560Nm, improving the 0-100km/h over the previous model by nearly one second at 6.7 seconds.

The range includes idle-stop and an Eco Pro efficiency mode, with fuel economy improvements recorded on each variant. The 30d diesel has an average combined fuel figure of 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres – a 19 per cent improvement over the outgoing model.

The twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine in the xDrive50i gains 30kW and 50Nm for a new output of 330kW/650Nm and can race from 0-100km/h 0.6 seconds faster at 4.8 seconds. Fuel use for this variant has improved by 22 per cent from 12.5L/100km to 9.7L/100km.

In M50d guise, the 3.0-litre triple-turbo six-cylinder diesel engine maintains its 280kW/740Nm output, but fuel efficiency has improved by 14 per cent at 6.6L/100km.

The 35i and 40d will arrive early this year, a couple of months after the rest of the range. The 35i keeps its 225kW/400Nm output from the 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol donk, but is 0.3 seconds quicker from 0-100km/h (6.4s) and fuel use has improved from 10.1L/100km to 8.6L/100km.

Meanwhile, the 3.0-litre diesel in the 40d has grown by 5kW/30Nm to be 0.7 seconds faster in the 0-100km/h dash (5.8s), with fuel efficiency cut to 6.3L/100kmfrom 7.5L/100km.

The new X6 is 32mm longer than the 2008 original, with height and width virtually unchanged. Cargo space is up by 75 litres to 580 litres with the seats up and 1525 when folded.

BMW X6 pricing*
xDrive30d $115,400
xDrive35i $120,700
xDrive40d $128,400
xDrive50i $151,600
M50d $157,900
*Excludes on-road costs.

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