X5 gets off road cred

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Sport - Damien Reid

THE num­bers don’t lie.

BMW’S top three sell­ing ve­hi­cles last year were SUVS, with the once sta­ple 3 Se­ries sedan a dis­tant fourth.

SUVS ac­counted for more than half the com­pany’s an­nual sales de­spite rep­re­sent­ing just a quar­ter of the port­fo­lio.

That makes this new X5, the fourth gen­er­a­tion of a ve­hi­cle that has notched more than 2 mil­lion sales glob­ally, cru­cial to the com­pany’s lo­cal suc­cess.

The new X5 shares its ba­sic un­der­pin­nings with the 7 Se­ries and the X3, X4 and X6.

BMW has stretched the dis­tance be­tween its front and rear wheels by 42mm, and it’s also wider and taller. That all trans­lates into more shoul­der, knee and head room.

The M50d will be the flag­ship model, a man­tle it wears well.

On the in­ter­na­tional launch in the US, it proved a re­ward­ing drive, thanks to the revo­lu­tion­ary 3.0litre, six-cylin­der quad turbo diesel’s 760Nm of torque from just 2000rpm.

Whether on-road or ne­go­ti­at­ing the rocky and muddy moun­tain­ous ter­rain on the out­skirts of At­lanta, the M50d’s mon­strous torque made light work of the slip­pery and steep con­di­tions.

Ex­pected to be the vol­ume seller, the xdrive30d is a ca­pa­ble item, pro­duc­ing 195kw of power and with 620Nm of torque on tap from 2000rpm.

Now that there is an of­froad pack avail­able, for the first time the X5 can be con­sid­ered a proper, go-al­most-any­where off-roader.

The range has been split into xline, aimed at the ad­ven­tur­ous out­door types, and the M-sport, which stays true to the M badge by be­ing a sports-fo­cused city al­ter­na­tive.

The xline fea­tures ad­di­tional alu­minium high­lights in the now com­i­cally over­sized kid­ney-shaped grille, along with roof rails and brushed al­loy side win­dow trim.

The M-sport is dif­fer­en­ti­ated by unique trim on the wheel arches and bumper, and body-coloured side skirts.

The xline fea­tures a but­ton for se­lect­ing four driv­ing modes for sand, rock, gravel or snow.

It al­ters its ride height, throt­tle re­sponse and the map­ping of the eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion’s change points to suit.

Our off-road­ing con­sisted of muddy steep hills with some side slip, the X5 deftly send­ing power on the cor­rect cor­ner so as not to bury it­self with wheel spin.

The in­creased ride height helped over deep ruts.

The hill de­scent con­trol re­moved any fears on slip­pery down­hill de­scents.

The pack­age in­cludes clever new air sus­pen­sion front and rear with ride height ad­just­ment of up to 80mm, ac­tive four-wheel steer­ing and ac­tive roll sta­bil­i­sa­tion, which al­lows the front to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently.

In Sport mode, the ride height drops by 20mm while the driver can also raise it up by to 40mm to give it an im­pres­sive 540mm wad­ing depth.

Ex­tra large air in­takes at the front give the MS­port a more mus­cu­lar look.

The grille, roof rails, side win­dow sur­rounds and other trim are painted in high-gloss black.

A throaty ex­haust note adds to its sporty flavour.

The M-sport will also be the first BMW to have 22inch rims as an op­tion.

In­side, ev­ery­where you look is new, with mul­ti­func­tion seats pro­vid­ing sev­eral mas­sage func­tions, four-zone cli­mate con­trol, heated arm­rests, and heated and cooled cup hold­ers.

The rear seats will have two op­tional 10.2-inch touch­screens from early next year and BMW Aus­tralia hopes to add a third row seat at the same time.

Lo­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions and de­liv­ery num­bers are still be­ing ne­go­ti­ated, so prices are yet to be con­firmed.

Given the dra­matic up­grade over the third gen­er­a­tion, don’t ex­pect to cut the same deal you can get on the cur­rent model.

The BMW X5 is part of the SUV rev­o­lu­tion.

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