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BMW Concept X6 and X6 ActiveHybrid: BMW X DNA Defined

At the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW Introduced The “First” Sports Activity Coupe
Technically, BMW is right. This is the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe. But that seems a matter of degrees, as Infiniti’s FX is really the world’s first SUV Coupe (and that was introduced back in 2003). The difference between an SAV and an SUV is in the mind of BMW, not the mind of the consumer.



Claims to world’s first aside, two X6 Concepts, one with an undefined but implied large conventional powerplant and another with BMW’s also largely undefined two- mode hybrid powertrain, were shown at the 2007 Frankfurt show in September. The X6 Concept and X6 Concept ActiveHybrid preview a vehicle we’ll see on the roads in 2008, built alongside the X5 at the company’s Spartanburg plant. Both gathered strong interest at the show, though the real test will be seeing the X6 on the autobahn, freeways, and suburban and city roads next to everything from the most sedate family sedan to the largest SUV to the smallest sports car. Will its striking roofline be enough to draw attention and appreciative looks or just look out of place? Though given graceful and dynamic surfacing, below the beltline the X6 looks every bit the SUV it is.

The X6 and X6 ActiveHybrid Concepts show what to expect from the exterior, though the interior and powertrain and mechanicals details are yet under wraps. We expect conventional X6 powerplants to be pulled from the X5, and the ActiveHybrid Concept confirms BMW’s intent to offer the jointly developed two-mode hybrid system (after the fragmenting of DaimlerChrysler, this is a four-way venture between GM, Daimler, The Chrysler Group, and BMW). BMW will use their own engines with the two-mode hybrid system, as do the other partners, and may call the system ActiveHybrid in production.

BMW promises that their hybrid will maintain character typical of a BMW and offer the “perfect feedback at all times through touch effects and acoustic signals.” BMW also claims the X6 Concept is “beyond comparison with any existing series production vehicle the world over.” Confident statements, to be sure, and much to expect from even a BMW SUV.


The relationship between X5 and X6 will be like Land Rover’s Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The X6 carries distinctly swoopier, sportier styling compared with the X5, but retains elements BMW has decided are part of BMW X vehicle DNA (the “optical balance of the front and rear wheels” and muscular wheel arches among them). There is justification for discussing X DNA versus BMW’s car DNA, as after the X6 joins the range, an X1 is due. By early next decade, BMW is expected to have four SUV lines complementing seven car lines.

Below the beltline, the X6 looks all SUV; above the beltline is a fast roofline and a four-door coupe look. The highest roof point is directly behind the steering wheel, with a gradual downward slope toward the end of the vehicle. The kidney grille is vertical, the hood uses creases to clearly define the power bulge, and BMW put a little of the decklid shape first seen on the 7-Series into the tapered rear hatch. Implying that much less cooling would be needed, as well as providing functional differentiation, the ActiveHybrid concept has solid elements in its front lower fascia, not mesh like the more conventional X6. The large sections of plastic surround the ActiveConcept’s foglamps cheapen the look while the mesh looks tough and aggressive. The ActiveHybrid has an even more pronounced centered hood bulge than the standard concept, presumably necessary. An interesting quirk of the hybrid system is that its a brushed aluminum rear underfloor panel slides out to cover the tailpipes when they are not needed. (Click here to see the tailpipes and here with them covered.)


Both X6 Concepts look more impressive in photos than on an anesthetic auto show floor. As dramatically different as this roofline is, the lower is all SUV. After presentations were over it blended into their auto show stand, even on its own pedestal. It remains to be seen how it will play on the road amongst the plethora of SUV sizes and shapes already available, not to mention the variety of solutions available for people for whom a great drive is more important than the comfort of the three or four people they may have to carry from time to time.

The X6 will borrow the latest X5’s all-new chassis and add a new electronic aid called Dynamic Performance Control. The system works with the latest xDrive AWD system and drivetrain and chassis systems to vary power to wheels in all situations. BMW claims it can help keep the vehicle stable entering a bend as well as exiting, for higher lateral acceleration and better directional stability coming out of the curve. The X6 clearly focuses on using all its technology for terrific on-road and bad-weather handling, not being overly concerned with rock crawling. This strikes us as appropriate, given that the attributes that best enhance a sporting, fast drive can be opposite those valued by off-roaders. And X6 looks its part, designed for speed and agility.

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