It’s the class of a car that has represented slowness, detachment, inelegant powertrain operation, and general lack of overall dynamism.
Crossovers have been questioned by enthusiasts on nearly the same level. Too big to be sporting, too low to be spacious, too heavy to be fast; CUVs are fish swimming in the same shooting barrel as hybrids for those who value the driving joy and purity. This brings us to the approximate phrase on many lips when the ActiveHybrid X6 was first proposed. We’ve always been put off by the often jerky transition from electric to gasoline power in most hybrids – a phenomenon that occurs in even well engineered systems like Toyota’s vaunted Synergy Drive. Working in tight concert with BMW’s impressive 4.4l bi-turbo V8 engine, the new X6’s electric motors help to achieve three very impressive figures: 480hp, 575pound-feet of torque, and a combined EPA consumption figure of 18 mpg. Considerable figures for what is now the closest thing to a performance hybrid the humans can buy on Earth.
If the 18mpg number isn’t good enough, then eat this. The X6 accelerates to 60mph in just 5.4 seconds. The engine seems to come to its own over 3000 rpm. What’s more, with the noted exception of that low-speed EV mode, BMW hasn’t hidden the voice of its first hybrid too much; a heavy foot on the throttle will be rewarded with a tuneful exhaust song. Not bad at all. BMW chose to launch the ActiveHybrid X6 in Miami, which is not one of the Great Driving cities. The ActiveHybrid stacks up against the standard V8 cars, which are almost 400 pounds lighter, in terms of handling. The X6 hybrid is a remarkable vehicle. It won’t make you love crossovers if you haven’t already – the shape and function are the same despite a cool signature color and nice optional packages. It will never boast of gaudy MPG figures. It might not even be the best X6 you can buy – the X6M is faster, the X6 35i is cheaper.
But, please don’t miss that this is absolutely a game-changing vehicle. The company may be turning out products that critics struggle to understand, but it has not forgotten the driving joy that it built a reputation on.