Friday, April 11, 2008

2009 BMW X6

We saw the X6 and Active Hybrid concepts in Frankfurt and have now learned that the production version will roll onto the show floor in Detroit this January. With it, BMW brings a fresh pot of alphabet soup and what may be their most convoluted naming scheme yet. The new "Sports Activity Coupe" will come in two flavors, the X6 xDrive 35i and the X6 xDrive 50i.

Let's take a moment to break down those names. Both models are equipped with BMW's xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive system and standard Dynamic Performance Control active rear differential - what varies is the engine used to turn the four wheels. You may have already guessed the X6 xDrive 35i makes use of the same twin-turbo 3.0-liter in-line six that sees duty in the 1-series, 3-series, and 5-series cars that bear the 35i suffix. The surprise here is a new engine for the top-of-the-range 50i - it's not the 4.8-liter engine that's found in the 5-series, 6-series, and 7-series cars that use the 50i suffix. It is instead a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 4.4-liter V-8.

Output for the 35i is the same 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque we've come to expect - and thoroughly enjoy - in its other applications. The new turbo V-8 makes a similarly welcome 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque - far better figures than that old normally aspirated 4.8-liter V-8. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic that drivers can shift themselves if the mood should strike.

BMW has somehow managed to package the turbos and catalytic converters within the valley of the V-8 block - a hint that the engine may wind up in other models not originally designed for it. The resulting short intake and exhaust manifold lengths should also help to reduce turbo lag.

The exterior design is nearly identical to what we saw in Frankfurt. BMW has extended the four-door coupe concept that little bit further to create what it calls a Sports Activity Coupe. The look of the bottom half is all X5 while the top says Porsche 911. From pictures, it appears the X6 has a longer rear overhang than the X5, which may help offset some of the cargo capacity lost with the sloping backlight. We're interested to see how much this affects real-world stuff-carrying ability.

Look for our coverage of the 2008 Detroit show in January, where we'll get our first chance to see this new Bimmer in 3D. Or, as BMW would call it, X6 x3D ActiveViewing.

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