Cruiser bruiser

Cruiser bruiser

Craig Iley, regional director, North East, Santander Corporate Banking, gives the BMW X6 a rigorous weekend going-over.
ne16 main2There is an old joke about a man who meets a good-looking woman in a leather dress. “Have you ever wondered why his eyes dilate, he breathes more deeply and his heart beats faster?... it’s because she smells like a new car.” Perhaps it’s not that funny but there is something special about getting a new set of wheels, even if it is only for the weekend. When it’s a real bruiser like a four-litre BMW X6 you know immediately that it’s going to be fun.

This is a car that wants to make a statement. Its imposing size, striking looks and contrasting colours of white with huge, black alloys hit you square in the face. It’s always going to be a conversation piece and one which is likely to divide opinion quite sharply. You are unlikely to get a middle-of-the-road reaction (no pun intended) and so it proved at home.

For my 15-year-old son, it was love at first sight. Dad was now officially cool, ferrying him and his mates to five-a-side football. Dad was now first choice taxi service and mum was relegated to second place. My altogether more studious 18-year-old daughter, on the other hand took one look at it and rolled her eyes. The subsequent entries on her Facebook page, whilst amusing, painted Dad in an altogether different light. On a more serious note, I am a big fan of German cars.

With excellent build quality you know the reliability will be bullet-proof. In the unlikely event of a problem, the high quality dealer network will sort it out with typical Teutonic efficiency and the X6 certainly gives you that reassurance. The cabin feels spacious and luxurious with acres of white leather, all stitched together beautifully, and everything that opens or closes does so with a reassuring “clunk”.

It feels very solid and well put together. It’s also very well equipped with an array of technology including the latest sat nav, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity all easily accessed via the iDrive system. Despite never having owned a BMW, I found the system is so easy to use that I felt totally at ease with it inside 10 minutes.

So what’s it like to drive? Initially, because of the height, the ride felt a little unsettled but I quickly realised that this feeling was just a product of being used to a lower driving position and a firmer ride, so it took a little while to adapt. As you would expect, the four-litre diesel is silky smooth with more than enough power available in any situation and the wide tyres help put that power on the road in an even fashion.

Even so, I was still surprised by the amount of torque, and you can feel the back end twitch on a greasy surface if you put your foot down too quickly as the 300-plus horsepower tries to get from the engine to the road surface. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and adaptable when your driving changes but you also have the option of the manual shift. Whilst I generally prefer a manual, the auto box is so good that after the first few miles the manual options seemed totally surplus to requirements.

The combination of power, smooth gearbox and good power distribution make the X6 a very relaxed cruiser and the motorway is where it will be most at home. But where’s the fun in that? I couldn’t resist a spell on the back roads of the North Yorks Moors. Although most people would be highly unlikely to go off road in this car, I tried the automatic hill descent system which worked admirably.

You get the impression that it would perform sensible off-road tasks if it has to, but personally I would stick to the Tarmac. At first glance the car seems huge so I was a bit wary about the tight bends and narrower country roads but it was sure-footed at every turn and it was a doddle. In fact it was just as relaxing as the motorway cruising and this is the first clue as to just how much impact the styling makes.

This really hits home when you try to park it. It looks fine from the inside but when you get out it’s all gone pear-shaped. Strangely this is a real positive. The combination of the chunky looks and poor visibility out of the rear window are deceiving and you begin to realise that it’s not as big as you think.

The large mirrors and parking sensors, front and rear, soon help you get a feel for where the edges are and you start to trust your judgement more. This is a lovely car to drive with all the comforts you are ever likely to need but you will need a healthy disposable income to run the four-litre version. Verdict: Big boy’s toy, great fun. Oh dear, I forgot to count the cup holders.

BMW X6 xDrive 4.0D, Lloyd Newcastle BMW, www.lloydnewcastlebmw.co.uk OTR £48,800.00. The Car Craig Iley drove cost £56,400.00.