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2020 BMW X6 Review: Bold and Brash

2020 BMW X6 M50i
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Khatir Soltani
Can a machine feel confidence?

Auto123 reviews the 2020 BMW X6 M50i.

Let's face it, faced with its looks and brash on-road behaviour, you either like or dislike BMW's X6 sports coupe SUV. But even those in the second of these camps have to give credit where credit is due: this German crossover was a forerunner when it appeared in 2008, for one, and BMW has sold 443,000 units of it worldwide, for two.

What's new in 2020
We had occasion to test drive the 2020 version of the BMW X6 M50i. With this fourth generation for the X6 - and the third for its M version – BMW has incorporated some improvements compared to the previous version.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, profile
2020 BMW X6 M50i, profile

On the outside
The dimensions of the 2020 X6 have changed slightly, the SUV gaining 26 mm in length, 42 mm in its wheelbase and 15 mm in width. At the same time, the height has been reduced by 6 mm to improve aerodynamics, lower the centre of gravity and optimize the vehicle's agility. That it makes it a tad more menacing on the road doesn’t hurt either.

BMW’s large one-piece kidney-shaped grille with active air bars is flanked by slim, trapezoidal adaptive LED headlights. Large bumper openings and sharp ribbing give the new X6 an even more aggressive and sporty look. The 22-inch wheels on our test model upped the aggressiveness quotient even further, especially with the blue-painted M Sport brake calipers.

The roofline is still as sloping towards the rear as ever, but unlike in the previous edition, we found there was better visibility through the rear hatch window.

Very thin LED taillights decorate the top of the tailgate, above the exhaust tips integrated into the sculpted lower rear panel. Once these taillights are turned on, the light pattern they generate is most striking.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, interior
2020 BMW X6 M50i, interior

Here you can feel this model isn’t fooling around. Sportiness, aggression and, yes, luxury are clearly on the agenda.

The centre console is oriented towards the driver and the steering wheel is easy to grip like in all new BMWs. The Merino leather and various carbon parts further reinforce the luxurious feeling of this X6.

Also new for this year is the bigger panoramic sunroof whose glass surface is 83% larger. This Sky Lounge glass roof, included as standard on our M50 model, creates a totally distinctive atmosphere inside the new BMW X6 when the sun goes down. More than 15,000 illuminated patterns in the glass roof produce a representation reminiscent of a starry sky. Six colours are available for illuminating the panoramic roof.

Another practical gadget, and already seen on other models like the X5, is the pair of thermo-electric cup holders (front only) which can keep drinks cold or hot, as you wish.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, first row
2020 BMW X6 M50i, first row

Our tester also had, like a number of higher-trim Beemers these days, several controls in a glass theme. These included the shift lever, iDrive controller, start button and audio-volume button. The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, which includes a seven-channel 1,500-watt amplifier with 20 speakers, actually managed to disappoint. The sound is very good as long as you don't exceed 75% of the maximum volume; beyond that you feel saturation.

Last, and certainly not least, the display system in front of the driver includes a 31-cm (12.3-inch) high-resolution digital dashboard display behind the steering wheel and a touch-sensitive central display of the same size. To say this seventh-generation iDrive, compatible only with Apple CarPlay, can be configured in several ways is an understatement.

Information from realms such as driving, entertainment, navigation, connectivity and vehicle information can be selected in almost any combination and arranged in one of four centre display styles. Multiple pages can be created and easily accessed with a simple scan of a finger across the screen. Hours of fun…

For the screen behind the steering wheel and the head-up display, your driving style will determine the visual display style.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, data screen
2020 BMW X6 M50i, data screen
Photo: BMW
2020 BMW X6 M50i, central screen
2020 BMW X6 M50i, central screen
Photo: BMW

Enough of the bling - how about the engine that powers this beast? The X6 M50i is equipped with the new version of the 4.4L turbocharged TwinPower 8-cylinder engine that develops a “mere” 523 hp between 5,500 and 6,000 RPM and 553 lb-ft of torque between 1,800 and 4,600 RPM. That means the powertrain now generates 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque more than the previous model.

The X6 M50i is also equipped with an M Sport exhaust system that allows the sound of the exhaust to be increased at the touch of a button. It can also be set to Sport Plus mode, which firms up the steering wheel, suspension and driver's seat.

0-100 km/h is achieved in just 4.3 seconds, 0.5 seconds less than with the old X6.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, front
2020 BMW X6 M50i, front

On the road
When in motion the X6 M50i behaves admirably. Even with the extreme power at its disposal, it can be driven with the smoothness of a true luxury sedan. The adaptive suspension, onboard soundproofing, supple engine-8-speed transmission combo and soft seats make you forget you're driving a big bad thoroughbred.

To remind yourself what you’re dealing, simply press the Sport mode button and you'll feel the beast roar, the 523 horsepower taking you to another plane of driving. Every time you accelerate, you'll feel the car sticking to the asphalt, with a muscle-car sound that will make it hard to remove the smile from your face.

Perhaps the only thing that could wipe the grin off your mug is… a trip to the pump. BMW reports a fuel consumption rating of 14.3L/100 km in the city and 10.6L on the highway. That's not too bad, you say, considering the V8 engine and the weight of the beast. Except that the reality is quite different; granted, the V8 has to move 2,304 kg worth of X6, but that hardly explains why we recorded an astronomical 24.0L/100 km in the city, when driving “normally”. Even when driving as smoothly as possible, in Eco mode, we couldn't get below 16L. On the highway, during a 200-km trip, we averaged 9.8L/100 km, sticking to 110 km/h.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, three-quarters front
2020 BMW X6 M50i, three-quarters front
Photo: BMW

Now, it's clear that buyers of this type of vehicle don't really look closely at fuel consumption, but it’s still relevant to know that if you drive the X6 M50i aggressively, the 85 litres of gas in the full tank will melt away like snow in the April sun.

Starting from a price of $92,000, BMW added a $17,000 Luxury Excellence package to impress us even more, as well as a $2,000 Merino all-leather option, a $500 illuminated grille and carbon fiber trim at $1,000. The total price of our tester was $112,500.

We're not going to lie: you'll get your money's worth and much more. The X6 is a vehicle that turns heads, that doesn't go unnoticed and even more so with its V8 engine. Compared to its direct competitors, it has the charming quality of embracing its dual role as a bad-ass and a people-mover, able to take you on a first-class trip.

2020 BMW X6 M50i, front grille
2020 BMW X6 M50i, front grille

We like

Exceptional engine
V8 power
Smooth ride
Comfort on board

We like less

Reduced space in the rear seats
Expensive options
Excessive consumption
Tires on 22-inch fragile rims

The main competition

2020 Jaguar F-Pace
2020 Alpha Romeo Stelvio
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

2020 BMW X6 M50i, rear
2020 BMW X6 M50i, rear

Road Tests and Reviews

2020 BMW X6
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2020 BMW X6 M50i pictures
Khatir Soltani
Khatir Soltani
Automotive expert
As a car enthusiast, he tests and compares vehicles from different categories through the eyes of the consumer, ensuring relevant and objective reviews.
  • Over 6 years experience as a car reviewer
  • Over 50 test drives in the last year
  • Involved in discussions with virtually every auto manufacturer in Canada