BMW has launched its latest X5 large SUV, the fourth generation that first came to Australia in 2001.
Being slightly bigger, a little more aggressive in its looks, continued improvements in the engines, suspension and drive train, better communication of information to the driver and a number of ways the owner can adapt the car to suit their needs, BMW is showing leadership in providing a vehicle that pushes the envelope of design and technology.
The BMW X5 has led the sales in the large premium SUV segment for more than a decade and the third generation, that was released in 2013, achieved sustained sale levels. So far this year the X5 numbers are down 28% but this is due to the runout period and the segment, in general, has declined with a trend toward smaller SUVs.
Nearly 60% of BMWs sold in Australia, so far this year, are SUVs with their X3 being its top selling vehicle. Prestige car manufactures know that SUVs are a critical part of their fleets and the X5 is the latest upgrade in BMW’s arsenal
The vehicle is a little higher (19mm) and longer with the wheelbase increasing by 42mm.
The grille is bigger and in one piece and there are sharper lines around the lights. There’s a chamfered effect across the top of the wheel arches, front and rear, so as to give a squarer look.
There is a more distinctive character line down the sides of the car which moves up in an S shape towards the rear of the car to give a powerful stance.
The rear lights are slenderer than the outgoing model with a three-dimensional effect and cut away into the body of the car. To add to the aggressive look there are large exterior tailpipe finishes in a trapezoid shape.
The rear tail gate in now split in two with both the upper and lower sections electronically controlled.
The boot space remains the same at 650 Litres with seats folded up; 1,870 with seats folded down; and 40:20:40 split rear seats. The extra interior space has been given to the occupants.
The overall design flows smoothly without any feature looking like a tack-on.
There are two design packages the X-Line and the M Sport package and three leather seat options two of which are designed as “Comfort seats”. I found these did not hold you very well from slipping sideways and if you enjoy driving in a spirted fashion, I would always opt for the Sport Seat that holds you more firmly.
There has been an increase in the number of things car manufacturers are getting cars to do automatically. These can be helpful or at times they can be annoying. Given the increasing capability of our computing systems there is more room for you to adapt the car to suit your needs and idiosyncrasies. On the new X5 you can program things ranging from the amount of steering assistance you get if you wander from your lane, right down to the tailgate button on your key fob: do you want to just unlock and raise the back tailgate or unlock the doors as well.
One significant new feature is that if you drive forwards, slowly, into a difficult area, the car will remember the steering movements for the last 50 m. To back-out your only have to control the accelerator and brake while the car duplicates the steering movements in the reverse direction. Fantastic if you have a difficult driveway or you have entered an unfamiliar area.
Drive and Engine
On the launch we drove the two diesel variants. The base diesel is a 3 litre, straight six, single turbo producing 195kW and 620Nm and rated at 7.2L/100km and a 0-100km/h time of 6.5sec. I think this gives plenty of performance.
But if you are keen to get more grunt, there is the M50D based on the same 3 litre block but with four turbocharges and a few other improvements producing 294kW and 760Nm and rated at 7.5L/100km with a 0-100km/h of 5.2sec. We spent most of the time in the M50D and the surge of power, with all that torque, was immensely satisfying. You could overtake with confidence and no hill had any worry for you.
An air suspension is optional and with a very good eight-speed automatic gear box, it tours the open road beautifully with competence, smoothness and quietness even on secondary roads. The only thing missing was the sound of a good petrol engine.
The driver assist technology is well developed. I found the lane assist was set to pull you into line quite firmly but it now keeps the car in the middle of a lane. The old system only reacted when getting close to a lane marker and so you could meander on the road as it first detected one side and then moved to the other. It also meant you felt uncomfortable close to the line.
The new BMW X5 has 5 radar sensors; 12 Ultrasonic sensors: and 7 Cameras (or 8 with Night Vision camera).
Clearly, they are committed to providing as much help to the driver as possible.
The X5 already had an extensive range of safety features and now this new model adds automatic speed limit assist, person and cyclist braking function and an evasion aid
- Top class diesel engine
- Improved interface between driver and vehicle
- More things are now adaptable to your own personal preferences
Not So Good Bits
- Comfort Seats don’t hold you well
- Looks are better up close but hard to tell at more than 50metres
- The long-term costs of technology such as four turbocharges is not known
BMW does all the right things with its latest X5 large SUV. It is slightly bigger, it has great engineering and the technology, especially with the interface between the driver and the vehicle, continues to improve.
It is very comfortable to drive and add to that the distinctive feature of remembering the way you approach a parking spot and being able to automatically steer you back out, which is clever and very practical and it is the sort of thing that you can show off to your friends
Facts and Figures: BMW X5 M50D
- Engine: 3.0L six-cylinder diesel producing 294kW/760Nm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
- Safety: Five stars
- Price: from $112,990