And another thing…

In my haste to finish up yesterday’s blog post I completely forgot to add in any real numbers or statistics about either the X6 or it’s doppelgangers. To give me something to do on my weekend off I thought I’d best add a little extra information about these potential purchases and maybe give anyone searching for more information about the cars a little boost in a friendly tone.

The GLE Coupe is too new even for me to write about properly!

There isn’t a whole lot of information about the new Mercedes GLE Coupe out there yet seeing as though the car is still several months away from a proper launch, but the original BMW X6 is a seasoned veteran of the road and the new X4 is starting to hit dealers so there are plenty of more realistic figures about running costs and the like. Given the similarities of these vehicles I’m going to compare these two indirectly throughout the course of this post and hopefully get a decent idea for myself and others about what they’re like to own.

Dimensions:

Neither of these vehicles could ever be described as being small or especially driver friendly, but their dimensions are probably not quite as awful as some might suspect. To begin with let’s look at the X6, a car based on the noticeably larger second generation X5 and a car which admittedly does dwarf some older cars on the road. Length wise we’re looking at a 4.88m long vehicle, with a 1.98m width when you exclude it’s gargantuan mirrors. Unfortunately for UK drivers the average parking space is on the whole pretty small, and whilst the minimum size of 4.5m long/1.8m wide has been abolished, it also means that councils can make their spaces whatever size they see fit.

Alot of X6’s are admittedly going to be parked badly!

My current car is 4.67m long and 1.87 wide, and I’ll admit that it’s width can be pretty challenging when negotiating around multi-storey car parks or especially at work where the spaces don’t give me much room to get in or out of the car if somebody has parked next to me. The X4 is based on the second generation X3, whose dimensions are actually quite similar to the earlier X5’s; the X4 is actually minutely longer than my X5 at 4.671m and is indeed wider too at 1.88m…admittedly the height of both the X4 and X6 give them a little less visual bulk but I was especially surprised that the X4 was larger than my car.

Both X6 and X4 benefit greatly from a parking camera

Admittedly both cars have a smaller length than a lot of similarly price coupes, but width could present itself an issue in some supermarket car parks (unless of course you insist on parking in one of those ridiculous ‘mother and child’ spaces). Still all BMW’s get a tilting passenger side mirror which I find helps loads, and any driver with an ounce of common sense will have added a rear-view camera to go alongside the standard parking sensors. Overall I’d say both cars are manageable but anyone a little less confident with parking should definitely plump for the X4.

Practicality:

Linking into dimensions comes both Beemer’s practicality, measured not just on numbers this time but also ease of use. The sloping rear end of both models mean that not only is total cargo capacity lower than in their more practical siblings, but also the opening can be a little difficult to open and reach into. For the former problem it is lucky that both vehicles come standard with an electric remote boot release, operational either from the tailgate, interior or key fob.

The X6’s boots is plenty big enough but just not very tall

The X6 has 570L of boot space with all seats in place, and 1450L with the rear seats lowered. This is actually pretty decent for a vehicle which is often slated for it’s lack of room, but again thanks to that sloping shape it does mean that the loading area is shallow and doesn’t have the potential to be loaded to the roofline like in my car (which incidentally has 465L seats up or 1550L with them folded flat). The rear of the X6 is a bit of a challenge too, as earlier cars only came with 2 rear seats until the 2010 facelift, when the centre console became optional and a third seat became available. Thanks to that roofline headroom is not great for anyone over 5’11, and the middle seat’s comfort is poor because of a raised hump and no dip in the roof lining like in the outer seats. Still for children they are going to be completely fine as long as they don’t mind the doors not opening too wide.

The X4’s boot is nearly as large as it’s bigger brother’s, but has the same issues with depth

The X4 is not too far behind the X6 again though; the boot is still 500L seats up and 1400L down; it does unfortunately share a lot of the problems which the older car has regarding door entry and rooflines, but thankfully the car was designed from the outset as a 5 seater and as such the middle perch doesn’t seem quite so uncomfortable. Overall the X4 is still not as spacious as it’s larger brother, but given the relative freshness of the design it means that rear passengers don’t feel as short-changed as they may have done if the X4 was launched several years ago. Still it’s worth remembering this is positioned as sort-of alternative to coupe’s and not just SUV’s.

Engines:

For cars which heavily trade on a sporting image it may surprise a few readers outside Europe that in this market the vast majority of X6 and X4 are sold with a diesel engine. The larger torque of diesels suit the heavy weight of this type of car well, plus the economy benefits they bring means that fuelling them is within the grasp of most people instead of just those with access to an oil tanker! I’m going to stick to the engines available in the UK as otherwise this list is going to end up being too long, plus it will give any American readers a taste of the diesels which are beginning to break through into their market.

So BMW graced the X6 with an initial choice of a 3.0L diesel in two states of tune, plus a couple of petrols (a 3.0L and a 4.8L). The base 30d had 232bhp and the more poweful 35d had 282; both engines are more than adequate in real life performance terms and reach 60 in 7.7 and 6.7 seconds respectively. With the 2010 facelift the 30d gained 9bhp and lost 0.4 seconds to 60, whereas the 35d morphed into the 40d and whilst it gained 20bhp it too only lost 0.4 seconds to reach the magic 60 marker. Those who were a little more performance minded and didn’t give a hoot about fuel costs could be satisfied with the mighty X6 M, which also launched in 2010 with it’s 4.4L turbo V8 and 547bhp/0-60 in 4.5 seconds. Most people in the grand scheme of things will be perfectly satisfied with the 30d as it has more than enough pace to pull off overtaking manouveres and cruise on the motorway, whilst the 40d will give a smile to anyone who actually expects their SAC to go with a bit of gusto. The earlier engines were mated to the same 6 speed ZF transmission that’s in my X5 and later models gained the upgraded (and ubiquitous) 8 speed variant.

The X6’s sales figures have proved that BMW were right in focusing on diesels in the UK market, and therefore have decided to offer their junior X4 with soley derv engines – simply a 2.0L 4-cylinder named the 20d and a 3.0L 6-cylinder available in both 30d and 35d guises. These engines are pulled directly from the X3 and whilst the 30d and 35d only come with the same 8 speed ZF as the X6, but the 20d can also be had with a 6 speed manual gearbox for those who insist on rowing their own. The 181bhp 20d reaches 60mph in an impressive 7.7 seconds whilst the 30d and 35d take 5.6 and 5 seconds respectively. Given the immense pace of these engines it’s hard to see why any buyers will want the upcoming 40i ‘M’ which is supposedly launching next year, and in fact it’s hard to see much point of the increased pace in the 6 cylinder cars given the likely buyers of the X4.

Fuel Economy:

Each of these engines will return reasonably similar fuel economy (barring the X6 M of course), but factory figures versus real life is likely to be an issue here as with any vehicle. Both of these cars are heavy and often run on massive wheels, making it hard to expect them to match a Ford Fiesta in the miser stakes…still there are some surprises here.

Both the original 30d and 35d in the X6 are supposed to return 34mpg in mixed driving – total fiction apparently, especially in the more powerful vehicle, but high 20’s should be attainable for even a spirited driver (wholly similar to my X5 then). The 8 speed gearbox in the facelifted models mean that 30 is in reach in mixed driving, even the powerful 40d which does hold a certain appeal for me, but in the X6 M some owners report sub-15mpg around town and around 20mpg mixed…not good! Worth noting also is that the M is in the £500 a year tax bracket, whilst the others will cost between £190 and £285 depending on the year.

I’m a sucker for the chunkier looks and wheels of the X6 M, if not it’s fuel returns

The younger age of the X4 plus the fact it is a little smaller have done wonders for it’s official economy figures. The 20d is supposed to return an epic 52mpg and both 30d and 35d are still rated at 47mpg! OK so back to real life and the 20d should eek out around 45mpg in steady hands, whilst the two more powerful engines may just stretch to 40mpg unless you take them for a regular back road jaunt. These are still amazing numbers for a 2 tonne plus vehicle, and road tax numbers of £145/£185 are still very reasonable.

Prices:

So this is pretty hard to draw a proper comparison given the vast different in ages, but we shall see where things take us anyway.

The X6’s prices depend greatly on how old the car is and mileage but essentially you will do well to find a reasonable car for under £20k. Upping your budget to £25k will get you into one of the earlier facelift cars and £30k will get you a nicely specced 40d in desirable M Sport trim; given that the X6 has only just been replaced it is still possible to see prices sky rocket up over £45k, but nobody in their right mind would pay sticker price for even these last of the line cars. I will be keeping a close eye on those vehicles currently sitting at the £30k mark to see where they go, as despite the £5k increase over the X5 at new the price difference is all but negligible now.

The X4 is a very handsome car, but will likely be one which retains it’s value very strongly!

Given that the X4 is still pretty much brand new it may be easier to speak about brand new prices, which start at £36k for a manual 20d in SE trim. Adding a few options and the automatic gearbox takes you to over £42k which only a few years ago would have sat you in something the size of the X5! The top 35d cars start at nearly £50k which seems a little excessive but I guess not a whole lot of people will plump for that engine. In terms of future values, well the similar X3 has lost very little value over the past 4 years and a nicely specced 20d has lost less than £10k since new…I suspect that the X4 will perform along those lines if not better – good for owners but not used customers!

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that over the course of writing this post (and yesterday’s), my mind has spun away from the X6 and toward more conventional off-roaders, but I am sure that when it comes to PX time I will at least want another sit in both these vehicles (a while of yet though!).

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