Let’s meet the contenders
From Germany we have the new BMW X6M 50d. This three-litre tri-turbo diesel beast produces around 280kW of power and 740Nm of low-down torque. This two-ton tank can sprint from 0-100km/h is just over five seconds. Now, from England, we have the Range Rover Sport, which was fitted with the brand’s 4.4-litre diesel V8. This engine produces 250kW and 740Nm of torque, just like the German. Expect to hit 100km/h in under seven seconds. Both cars feature a smooth shifting eight-speed gearboxes with different driving modes, averaging around 10.0 litres/100km (in both cars), during my test-week period.
Well, which of these two luxury tanks is best? Keep reading because the result might surprise you.
Let’s look at Luxury offered
Both cars offer the highest level of luxury in their own unique way. The BMW feels familiar as much of the layout and switchgear can be found on other models such as the X5 and 5 Series. The materials used are of the finest and everything you touch has an expensive feel to it. The seats offer great support and rear occupants have enough space in which to relax. I will admit, if you’re a tall person, the slopping roof line of the X6M 50d could pose a problem.
The Range Rover Sport also features a very neatly laid out dashboard fascia. It’s less cluttered than the BMW’s, it’s wrapped in soft leather and can be describes as, posh. The seats are nicely bolstered for extra support and comfort. I did find that despite the luxurious feel of the interior it didn’t look as if it was on the same quality level as the BMW. However, the Range Rover’s interior is purpose-built to deal with dirt. The floor mats, for example, are made of thick, durable rubber. The buttons and dials are big and easy to grab. What’s more, the Range Rover does deliver a softer ride compared to the BMW.
In warfare the side that has the most amount of tech is probably at an advantage. It’s no different when comparing these two cars. The BMW has a fantastic infotainment system. The iDrive system is easy to use and I found that BMWs updated SatNav system not only displays weather conditions at your location, but also lets you know why you’re sitting in traffic. The Range Rover’s system on the other hand, is slightly dated and not as user-friendly as the BMW’s system. On the plus side, the Range Rover was fitted with a brilliant Meridian sound system. You can pump your favourite tunes all day at full volume without any hint of distortion.
Both cars were fitted with active cruise control, which automatically adjusts your speed according to the car in front of you. These systems are great for countries where everyone driving on a highway, drives at a regular speed. The problem with these systems is that with erratic local drivers the cars are forever braking and accelerating, which irritates me immensely. Thankfully, you can turn the system off in the BMW by holding in one simple button. The same can’t be said for the Range Rover. I tried everything and I even consulted Google without prevail. The system can’t be turned off. This is a huge let down for me. Luckily the Range Rover has a trick up its sleeve.
Both cars are fast, sporty and practical but the Range Rover trumps the BMW in one specific area: off-road capabilities. Sure, you’re probably not going to take your million rand plus car off-road, but I did. This is still a Range Rover - a car made famous by offering customers comfort, whether you’re in Sandton or in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The Range Rover has air suspension and a terrain response system to help if off-road. It also has a low-range setting, which allowed it to idle up a rocky outcrop that I found. I drove through a river, through mud and sand with ease.
The BMW might be faster on the tar and it might have more street cred, but when it comes to combining the best blend of on-road performance and off-road capability, the Brit has the German in its sights, or does it?
You see, when posed with the question of which I would choose I couldn’t help but think about that Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI that I drove a few weeks ago. It has the same kilowatts as the Range Rover, more torque than both the BMW and Range Rover, it’s as quick as the BMW to 100km/h and it has more than enough off-road capabilities to satisfy your explorer gene.
So, in conclusion, if the BMW and Touareg were to have a love child it would be the Range Rover Sport. So then, what to choose? Well, it depends what you want from the car, the BMW is for the style conscious, the Range Rover for the sophisticated traveller and the Touareg is the left field sensible choice that lacks in street cred.