BMW X6 M Competition


The facelifted X6 and X5 have had quite the interior makeover – not entirely for the better, we must say – and most of those changes have come to the M versions as well.

Nearly the whole dashboard was binned and replaced in order to accommodate BMW’s Curved Display, which is a combination of a 12.3in digital gauge cluster and a 14.9in multimedia screen. Between them, they have usurped most of the pre-facelift X5’s dash buttons.

Gone are the physical climate controls and numbered shortcut buttons. Thankfully, the centre console retains a decent selection, as well as the rotary cursor controller. The climate controls are permanently on the screen, but you need to open a menu to get to the heated seats and steering wheel.

We are also no big fans of BMW’s digital gauge cluster, which has plenty of whizzy graphics but lacks clarity and easy configurability. While most digital gauge clusters let you display, for example, the navigation and trip computer at the same time, BMW’s doesn’t and makes it hard to scroll between different options.

BMW hasn’t just plonked an enormous screen on top of the old dash, though. It has also redesigned the air vents and the trim. Where the old car had a decorative trim strip running in front of the passenger, there is now also a transparent plastic bar with some light-up M graphics. It looks fresh and modern, but to the eyes of some testers, a little cheap and tacky too.

That was about the only thing that felt cheap inside our £147,605 test car, where there is lots of real, soft leather and real, cold metal. Most of the cabin appointments are shared with the standard X6 and X5, with a few exceptions. The X6’s door cards are a touch more ornate than the X5’s and enhance the sporty vibe. While facelifted non-M models swap their drive selector lever for a much less tactile toggle, the X6 M retains a stubby lever that can be pushed forwards and backwards for the manual mode.

M models also have a pair of ‘M Multifunction seats’ with an integrated headrest and more aggressive bolstering than the standard versions.

The space on offer is fairly typical of an SUV of this type. Rear leg room is sufficient, while rear head room and rearward visibility are slightly affected by the sloping roofline. However, you are unlikely to be deterred if you like this car’s particular style, as even adults can travel in the rear in comfort.

Infotainment

BMW’s iDrive used to be the benchmark for multimedia systems, with logical menus, clean graphics and a plethora of shortcut buttons. In the latest generation, iDrive 8, the climate controls have moved onto the screen, and the menus have become much more complicated due to a large number of apps clogging up the main screen.

Things do get better with familiarity, it’s possible to define some shortcuts and, thankfully, the rotary controller with a selection of buttons remains present and correct. Still, it’s a step back compared with the pre-facelift X6.

As before, the built-in navigation is excellent and reacts to traffic very well, and the Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi is powerful and clear. Mind you, it needs to be, given how much road noise it’s tasked with overpowering. Wireless phone mirroring is integrated well, and we found the BMW smartphone app useful for checking the car’s status and sending destinations to the navigation.

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