The BMW X5 is one of the cars of our time – a massive status symbol and an imposing presence on any road, in any country. Since its introduction in 1999, it has shaped and defined the SUV segment, and the fourth generation is no different.
At the launch in George, we were treated to both models on offer in SA: the grounded, exceptionally-capable xDrive30d, and the almighty, quad-turbocharged M50d. There are no plans for a petrol variant at present, but after driving the M50d, it seems that there’s no need for one at all.
The soundtrack produced by the 3L, 294kW power plant belies its choice of fuel, while the M50d absolutely rockets from 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds, hitting a claimed top speed of 250km/h. Even with these crazy performance figures, it still manages a claimed combined fuel consumption of just over 7l/100km.
The xDrive30d has even better consumption, at the expense of some power. Though it has the same straight six engine, it ‘only’ kicks out 195kW. Truth be told, it’s a beast in its own right. Both variants feature 8-speed Steptronic transmissions.
The new X5 is slightly longer than its predecessor, and a bit wider, too, with a sleek new design that has minimalised the once wild-eyed behemoth. Perhaps the most noticeable alteration is the flattening of the rear taillights, moving away from the shape that defined the X-range for so long.
The interior is as classy as you’d expect from a top-end BMW, with a cutting-edge instrument panel complimented by a very flashy centre console and transmission tunnel. The gear shifter has an optional glass finish that feels very executive indeed.
The panoramic sunroof is 30% larger than the one on the previous model, and it’s been embedded with a stunning secret. When night falls, a constellation of tiny LEDs light up the glass like the starry sky, creating a unique ambiance not found in any other vehicle.
The range of personalisation and extras is as comprehensive as you’d expect from a BMW. In fact, it’s pretty much unlimited! BMW is also offering in-house off-road tyres as an option, reaffirming its belief that the X5 is a car you can take nearly anywhere.
The new X5 matches its interior class with on and off-road poise. On the road, it is an absolute cruiser, with the ability to transform into a speed demon when your foot turns to lead. Thanks to the intelligent xDrive system, it’s still as incredibly capable off-road as any X5 has ever been, resulting in a car that continues to lead the way for premium AWD SUVs.
The chassis features a double-wishbone front suspension and a multilink rear axle, coupled with the Dynamic Damper Control system and a system which allows the ride to be adjusted with the press of a button. An optional Off-Road package works with an electronic rear-diff and allows up to 1 500Nm of torque to be redirected to any wheel when more traction needed.
A cool new feature is the ability to use your smartphone as a key with the BMW Digital Key, which uses Near Field Communication to eliminate the need for a conventional car key. The driver can share this key with up to five other people, although with a car this pricey, that’s unlikely to happen!
X5 xDrive30d xLine – R1 186 200
X5 M50d M Performance – R1 493 600
By Micky Baker