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Where is the limit?

February 2013 - From the Print Edition

About two years ago, I was writing about the phenomenal bi-turbo engine developed by BMW, which solved one of the major drawbacks of these oil burning machines, the turbo lag. But guess what... for an unknown reason, this was not enough, engineers at BMW were not happy, so they thought why not add another turbo. We have now a car with three turbines.
And to show how happy they were with the result, the engineers decided that this engine is worthy of bearing for the first time on a diesel, the M badge. So, the BMW M50d was born.
They looked around in the yard and picked two models to transplant them the beast′s heart, the X5 and the X6.
I got the chance to sit behind the wheel and drive around for a few days in the X6 M50d. I was looking forward to this for a number of months now, so I prepared with everything there is to know about the car. The specs show that this six cylinder 3.0 liter diesel will only be 0.6 seconds slower than it′s big brother the full X6M version powered by the thirsty V8. How about that!
Let′s talk a bit more about those turbos. This is how they work: - one by one, they kick in sequentially across the rev range. A small one gets to work at almost 1000 revs, a larger one takes over from about 1,500 rpm, then a third kicks in from about 2,600 rpm. And, guess what... the full 750 Nm is available from just 2,000 rpm, enough to give you a headache if you are not used to such a violent push in the seat.
The intelligent ZF eight-speed automatic transmission complements brilliantly the power of this motor, short-geared when needed, but not lacking flexibility. The sport mode will allow the gears to be shifted close to the limiter while keeping the revs in the best performance range.
In terms of fuel efficiency, even if it seems a bit vulgar to talk about this in such a car, I managed to have a 10 litres /100 km. Consumption on a gentle freeway cruise. If you hit the pedal to the metal, the consumption will rise significantly to almost double. Still, it′s an unbeatable figure if you compare with the V8 powered X6M.
The chunky steering wheel is indicative of the way the X6 goes about its business. The driver has to deal with a two tonne vehicle but miraculously, the engineers have done their homework here in a way that you cannot feel this weight. It grips the tarmac like a veritable sports car, balanced and smooth, without giving the driver that chilly feeling of loosing control.
Inside, the BMW X6 M50d is quite dull. The personalization of the interior to the M specs is kept to a minimum. A small badge on the wheel will remind you that you are in an M Sport vehicle. To be honest I would have expected more creativity from this department.
The two rear seats of the pre-facelift X6 have now turned into three, probably following the complaints of male clients that could not justify in front of a practical mum the necessity of buying such a large four seat vehicle. Now there is your practical SUV reborn and reinvented to please also families. But families with deep pockets as the tested version hits the 100.000 Euro mark. ?

By Adrian Ion



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