Photos by Howard Walker.

Don't tell BMW's new X6 it's not a sports car

Boy, I’ve tried to love it. Tried to see the beauty in its hunchback design. Tried to see the appeal of an SUV that really wants you to think it’s a sports coupe.

Yet each and every time I take in the slope-roofed lines of BMW’s X6, I ask myself the same burning question: Who on earth would want, never mind pay big money, for something like that?

But what do I know? Since pooh-poohing the X6 at its launch in 2009, it’s now in its third generation and, PC — as in Pre-Covid — it was enjoying not-to-be-sneezed-at sales here in the US of around 6,000 a year.

And since the X6 landed, fellow luxury makers have rushed to come up with their own Quasimodo-backed X6 rivals: Audi with its Q8, Porsche with its Cayenne Coupe, Mercedes with its GLC and GLE Coupes. Even Lamborghini, with its funky Urus. 

I get it. Regular SUVs — even BMW’s own X5 — can tend to look like the box they came in. Square is, er square. Angle back the windshield, turn the rear window into a ski slope, and there you have it. Style.

As Confucius once said, or maybe it was Whoopi Goldberg, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in the same way people just love Crocs and velour track suits, they’re always going to love oddball designs. 

Yes, I’m talking about your Mr. Chrysler PT Cruiser. 

You’d never call the design of the 2020 BMW X6 M50i I’ve been driving — base price $87,000 — “oddball.” Polarizing, maybe. Head-turning, most definitely. Extrovert, without a doubt. 

Certainly, this third-gen version is the best-looking X6 yet. Especially with its bigger, bolder kidney grilles, LED-ringed lights and a set of stunning 22-inch M-sport alloys. 

While the profile remains pretty much the same as previous X6 generations, this latest version is new from the ground up. Longer by an inch, half an inch wider, and 1.6 inches longer in the wheelbase. 

Now you’d think with a chunk of its roofline missing, this new X6 would be a total compromise when it came to interior space, especially in the back.

But that’s the remarkable thing here; BMW designers have been able to pull off a magic trick by making the cabin still plenty spacious and usable.

Climb into the back and you’d think that swoopy roof would have your head scraping the roof liner. Not so. I’m six-foot and I could sit back there with a good inch and a half above my head. 

The only real compromise to that “coupe-over” back is the lousy rear visibility. Look in your rear-view and it’s like peering out of a mail slot. 

 But thankfully the X6’s sporty, dynamic styling is matched by truly dynamic performance. This X6 M50i I’ve been piloting is one hot-blooded, finger-tingling rocketship.

It’s powered by one of my favorite engines on the planet, BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 — the same one that powers the thrilling 8-Series M850i coupe and convertible.

In the X6 it churns out 523-horsepower and a muscley 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to punch this 5,200-pound gym-honed honker from rest to 60mph in just 3.8 seconds.

And with a combination of brilliant suspension design, BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive, adaptive M suspension and those huge 22-inch Pirelli P Zero gumballs at each corner, this X6 M50i is beyond breathtaking to drive. 

While you can drive — quickly — away in a base, rear-drive X6 40i for around $66,000, the M50i is the thrill ride here. But beware; its $87,000-ish base can quickly soar. Our option-rich tester topped out at $99,645. 

But it’s hard to complain when you’re getting a high-luxury sports coupe, sport-ute and head-turning thrill ride all in one package.

Just don’t ask me to love the shape.

Test drive the 2020 BMW X6 M50i at Reeves BMW Tampa, Ferman BMW Palm Harbor, Bert Smith BMW St. Petersburg, or Fields BMW Lakeland.