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2009 BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe Preview

2009 BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2008
Critical Knowledge:
  • World's first "Sports Activity Coupe"

  • Based on the X5 platform

  • Four-passenger seating

  • Offering choice of two twin-turbo powerplants

  • First BMW to offer Dynamic Performance Control

  • Arriving second quarter of 2008


Introduction
BMW created a new segment in 1999 with the introduction of their X5 "Sports Activity Vehicle" (SAV). Based on the 5 Series platform, and sharing many of its mechanicals and electronics, the X5 was offered with standard all-wheel drive (AWD) and a choice of 6- or 8-cylinder power. Unlike most other ponderous SUVs of the time, the 5-passenger BMW X5 was set up to favor sporting road use with limited off-road intentions. The X5 was a success, encouraging Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen to follow with their own luxury SUVs. BMW followed the X5 with the X3, slightly smaller and less luxurious, but with the same road-favoring attributes of its big brother.

BMW is once again creating a new segment with the introduction of their all-new X6 "Sports Activity Coupe." While the current BMW X5 offers seating for up to seven, and the BMW X3 for five, the BMW X6 is designed to transport four with the highest level of on-road sport, luxury, and elegance. According to BMW, "the new X6's design combines the sporting elegance of a large BMW coupe with the powerful presence of a BMW X model."

Model Lineup
BMW will initially offer the all-new X6 in two configurations: xDrive50i and xDrive35i. With the exception of the 8- or 6-cylinder powerplant difference, both models offer the same list of standard features. The interior of the X6 is swathed in high-quality leather and wood. Individual style is expressed though the availability of 10 exterior colors, 11 leather options, and three trim choices.

Coupe-like in design, the X6 was designed as a 4-passenger vehicle with individual rear seats separated by a center console. Passengers and luggage compartment (large enough for four golf bags) are also distinctly separated from one another-again in coupe-like fashion. To increase transport capacity, the rear-seat backrests may be folded in an asymmetric split expanding capacity substantially. Standard on the X6 is a power-operated tailgate with automatic opening and closing. The driver is able to vary the final position of the tailgate when open to prevent damage when in a garage or underground parking area with a low ceiling.

Hardware
The xDrive50i introduces a brand-new engine for BMW, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo 8-cylinder engine rated at 400 hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is unique in that it is the first V-8 in the world to feature its turbochargers in the V-section between the two rows of cylinders, creating a particularly compact engine design. The xDrive35i will be powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo 6-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. In addition to the twin turbochargers, both engines feature direct fuel injection for improved power, fuel economy, and reduced emissions, according to BMW. Both 6- and 8-cylinder powerplants are mated to a 6-speed sport automatic transmission. A sport steering wheel with shift paddles for manual control is standard on all models. According to BMW, the xDrive50i accelerates to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Equipped with the optional 20-inch wheels, the top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. EPA fuel economy estimates have not been released for either model, but BMW claims the 8-cylinder engine in the xDrive50i is the most fuel-efficient engine in its class.

The suspension on the X6 is fully independent, with 4-wheel disc brakes inside standard 19-inch light alloy wheels; 20-inch wheels are optional. If the driver is alerted to an anomaly by the standard tire-pressure-monitoring system, run-flat safety tires enable continued driving even after a complete loss in tire pressure.

All X6 models are equipped with xDrive, a full-time AWD system that electronically varies front/rear torque split and traction control to offer optimal traction and control under varied road conditions, according to BMW. Dynamic Performance Control, unique to the X6, works in conjunction with xDrive to provide directional stability and precision under all driving conditions, the maker says. Active Steering and Adaptive Drive are both offered as options.

Safety
According to the company, BMW engineered the X6 for supreme agility on the street with maximum crash safety if the need arises. All models of the X6 offer driver and passenger front and side air bags with BMW's Head Protection System curtain-type air bags extending down the sides of the passenger compartment. All seats feature 3-point inertia-reel belts with belt tensioners and belt-force limiters. Crash-activated headrests are designed to prevent cervical spine injury in the event of a collision from behind. All restraint systems are monitored by a center electronic safety "brain" evaluating the type and severity of the collision. The electronics control the deployment rate of the two-stage frontal air bags, and are engineered to activate the curtain air bags and belt tensioners if a rollover is imminent. The long list of standard active safety features includes anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, trailer stability control, hill-descent control, Cornering Brake Control, and Fading Compensation.

Technology
Dynamic Performance Control is featured for the first time on the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe. Standard on all X6 models, the system uses an advanced computer control and an innovative rear differential to multiply torque on an individual rear wheel. This enables Dynamic Performance Control to proactively send torque to either of the rear wheels-effectively helping to steer the vehicle.

Unlike most other AWD or traction-enhancing systems that distribute engine power to a wheel under acceleration, Dynamic Performance Control works whether the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating. BMW claims that, with the system, steering precision is enhanced and vehicle stability is improved.
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