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2011 BMW X6 Performance

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There are four versions of the X6, and every one is a performer. The turbocharged inline 3.0-liter six-cylinder in the X6 xDrive35i offers 300 horsepower, 23 mpg, and standard all-wheel drive. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 in the xDrive50i ups the output to 400 horsepower, still manages 20 mpg highway, and uses the all-wheel drive to deliver blistering acceleration for an SUV. Step up to the X6 M and your frame of reference will be forever altered: this 555-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 beast does things you only expect from the finest sports sedans, and does them all without blinking. For those with greener tastes, but who also still hanker for fun, the ActiveHybrid X6 mates a turbocharged V-8 with a hybrid drive system for 17 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 480 horsepower.

The xDrive35i and xDrive50i X6s both use a new eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver the power, enhancing smoothness and acceleration, while also boosting efficiency. The ActiveHybrid X6 uses its own seven-speed gearbox with Sport and steptronic manual shift modes, including steering-wheel paddle shifters. The X6 M gets a six-speed transmission to handle its huge output. No matter which model you choose, you'll get a brilliant set of electronic assistants that not only improve safety, but help extract the most out of the X6's prodigiously capable chassis. The X6 M, with M Dynamic Mode, takes this to another level.

A beefy V-8 engine and a smooth inline-six give the 2011 BMW X6 serious performance chops, and the X6 M takes it to near-sports car levels-but it's still a big, heavy SUV.

All X6s are surprisingly capable, accelerating briskly, turning and handling well, especially for their size, but even faring fine against much smaller competition. Steering can be a bit vague at times, but almost always feels natural and direct.

The BMW X6's performance is impressive in the standard variants and downright shocking in the case of the X6 M, but even after time on the track at Road Atlanta and BMW's Performance Driving grounds in both M and non-M models, the concept of a sport-coupe/SUV feels a bit foreign. Compromises abound to enable the X6 to meet its performance targets; the cargo area is comparatively small, and though it's very fast, there's no mistaking the tall crossover's parentage-it's no track-bred coupe.

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