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Motoring: BMW X6 is a vehicle of many contrasts

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | January 18th, 2010



Many people are aware of this tiny place called Dubai. This trading centre for the United Arab Emirates has over the years transformed itself to become a huge tourist attraction.

The thing is, Dubai wasn't blessed with any natural beauty. It was just a desert. However, by spending countless billions of dollars (some of which it is having trouble paying back now), it has transformed this desert into a surreal place.

Everything in Dubai you see is over the top. It has the biggest mall (Dubai Mall) and the tallest building (Burj Dubai). It has even changed its geographical landscape by creating offshore islands, a feat you won't find anywhere else in the world.

While its government is having some financial issues, the place itself doesn't seem to be lacking any money. I mean, just look at the kind of cars you see roaming around this city, and you get the idea the people here are quite well off.

You see new Bentleys like you see new Lexus' in Toronto. The Audi R8 might be a very rare sight in most parts of the world, but you'll see loads of them in Dubai. Lamborghinis and Ferraris are not rare either; no wonder then that a lot of people there look to customizing their already special cars.

It was also not a surprise then to find every street littered with the BMW X6. This is not a cheap vehicle and even after a year of sales, it is a rare sight in Toronto, but not in Dubai.

I read somewhere that Dubai is the largest per-capita market for the X6, and I could see what they meant.

Thanks to the excellent people at BMW Canada, I too got to have an X6 when I recently visited Dubai.

It was the xDrive35i model, which means it has a twin-turbo, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder motor, that produces 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque. Mated to an excellent six-speed automatic gearbox, this motor has no trouble just hurling this 16-foot long, 2.3-ton vehicle.

In fact, it is very surprising how agile and light on its tires this vehicle feels. As far as performance and handling is concerned, on the road it feels like a much smaller vehicle, perhaps like a BMW 3-series. This is very impressive. It's rather like seeing a rhino perform like a horse.

However, not everything is good about the X6. Take the styling for instance. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but personally I think the design could have been much better. It's the same story inside, the interior might have all the modern gadgets you might expect from a vehicle like this, but the design is rather dull, very uninspiring. Thanks to its coupe like styling, there is not much headroom for rear seat passengers and the trunk isn't very commodious either. Plus thanks to the design of it's rakish A-pillar, I forever keep banging my head every time I get in it.

There are other visibility issues too, like the position of the inside rearview mirror, it is right in the middle of its rather small windshield and is very distracting, plus the rear window is very slanted and because there is no vertical piece of glass in the tailgate, rearwards visibility is also poor.

Oh, and thanks to its hefty weight, it drinks quite a lot too, I struggled to get 16-litres/100km.

So it seems that the X6 has tons of flaws, and it does, but don't write it off just yet.

You see, the X6 should not be seen as a sensible family vehicle, because it's not.

The X6 is certainly not for those who have small children and hence have to carry strollers and diaper bags.

No, the X6 is for those who perhaps want an all-year round sports car, it certainly drives as well as some sports cars and is just about as impractical.

This $65,000 sport utility vehicle is very much like Dubai, not perfect in many ways, but simply incredible in others.
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