BMW on an evo­lu­tion­ary road with X5

FU­TURE MODELS/ The de­sign might be evo­lu­tion­ary but BMW has packed the new X5 with com­fort and tech­nol­ogy, writes Michael Tay­lor

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

In a shock to no­body, BMW’s de­sign­ers have taken a mod­est evo­lu­tion­ary path to de­liver the next X5 SUV, which will ar­rive in SA in Novem­ber. Luck­ily, the en­gi­neers didn’t. An all-new V8 en­gine will head­line the up­grades for the fourth gen­er­a­tion of BMW’s most con­sis­tent sales per­former, and it will also be longer, wider and taller.

It will be stuffed full of new sus­pen­sion tech­nol­ogy, with a huge up­grade to the Off-Road Pack­age to en­hance its bush­bash­ing abil­i­ties. It will be bigger in­side, with an op­tional third row of seats and push-but­ton fold­ing for the sec­ond row.

The en­gi­neers have added 42mm to its wheel­base, tak­ing the space be­tween the axles out to 2,975mm, while it has grown 19mm in height (to 1,745mm).

Crit­i­cally, BMW has grown the X5 just 36mm in over­all length, keep­ing it at 4,922mm and just beneath the crit­i­cal 5m bar­rier. With the all-new X7 al­ready seen out and about, BMW could afford to keep its X5 beneath the 5m bar­rier, which is so crit­i­cal in some mar­kets.

Just as crit­i­cal for any­body with tight park­ing, its width has stretched be­yond the 2m bar­rier, grow­ing 66mm wider to 2,004mm. It feels more con­fi­dent about mak­ing the X5 wider be­cause for the first time there is an op­tion to force the SUV to do most of the work to park it­self, es­pe­cially if it’s steer­ing along a path it has re­cently driven. There is a suite of as­sis­tance sys­tems to min­imise the chances of bumps and scrapes, in­clud­ing sur­round view, top view, panorama view and re­mote 3D view.

BMW SA has no plans as yet to in­tro­duce the flag­ship new V8 en­gine though, which peaks at 340kW of power at 5,200r/min and holds that un­til 6,000 revs. It also punches out 650Nm of torque from 1,500-4,750r/min, so the spread of per­for­mance looks to be wide.

Straight-line stom­pers will find the xDrive 50i hurl­ing it­self to 100km/h in a claimed 4.7 sec­onds on its way to a lim­ited 250km/h top speed. BMW claims it will gulp 11.6l/100km on the com­bined cy­cle, emit­ting 264g/km of CO2 — nei­ther of which is re­motely near the front-line pace th­ese days, which gives a good in­di­ca­tion of why BMW didn’t bother to make it avail­able in Europe.

In­stead, the petrol mo­tors in BMW’s “home” mar­ket will be head­lined by the xDrive 40i, with a 250kW ver­sion of its tur­bocharged in-line six cylin­der mo­tor beneath the bon­net.

The 2,998cc en­gine reaches its power peak at 5,5006,500r/min, while de­liv­er­ing 450Nm of torque from 1,500- 5,200r/min and hit­ting 100km/h in 5.5 sec­onds. Its econ­omy num­bers seem much more ac­cept­able at 8.5l/100km and 193g/km for CO2, and it tops out at 243km/h.

It’s also the light­est X5, at 2,060kg, while the 2,286kg V8 ver­sion is heav­ier than the 50d.

The 40i will not be com­ing to SA ini­tially ei­ther, but it might later so here we go with the models that we will be get­ting, both of which will be diesel. There will only be two diesel mo­tors for the X5 at its launch in Novem­ber, though oth­ers are ex­pected to fol­low, in­clud­ing a 2.0l, four-cylin­der unit.

The ju­nior of the oil squash­ers will be the xDrive 30d, with 195kW of power at 4,000r/min and an im­pres­sive 620Nm of torque from 2,000r/min, from 2,993cc of en­gine ca­pac­ity.

The six-cylin­der diesel punches to 100km/h in 6.5 sec­onds and reaches up to 230km/h, but does it all with just 6.0l/100km in av­er­age con­sump­tion and 158g/km of CO2 (on the small­est 17-inch rub­ber).

The big-daddy diesel will be the xDrive 50d, with 294kW of power at 4,400 revs and 760Nm of torque, all thanks to us­ing a squadron of three tur­bocharg­ers, and it punches to 100km/h in 5.2 sec­onds.

Lim­ited to 250km/h, the 50d has a claimed CO2 fig­ure of only 179g/km and an av­er­age con­sump­tion claim of 6.8l/100km.

All the X5 en­gines push their drive out through eight-speed ZF-sourced au­to­matic trans­mis­sions and use an in­tel­li­gent, rear-bi­ased all-wheel drive sys­tem, while the big­gest wheel pack­age is now 22 inches.

Its safety sys­tem now in­cludes an emer­gency stop­ping sys­tem, which will brake the car au­to­mat­i­cally and steer it to the side of the road (us­ing its blindspot de­tec­tion sys­tems to find clear, safe gaps in the traf­fic) be­fore com­ing to a stop with its haz­ard lights on and call­ing emer­gency ser­vices.

Un­der­neath, con­trol­ling all the mass, there will be elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled dampers as stan­dard equip­ment for the first time, while the op­tional air sus­pen­sion (now on both axles) will de­liver 80mm of height range.

It will fol­low Audi’s Q7 with some of the hard­ware op­tions, in­clud­ing in­te­gral ac­tive steer­ing and ac­tive roll sta­bil­i­sa­tion (thanks to elec­tron­i­cally op­er­ated an­tiroll bars).

It will re­tain the X5’s sig­na­ture two-piece split tail­gate, both of which can close au­to­mat­i­cally to se­cure the 645l of lug­gage ca­pac­ity, or 1,860l with the 40:20:40 rear seats folded flat.

Be­sides the stan­dard func­tions, there will be a range of new in­te­rior op­tions, in­clud­ing four-zone cli­mate con­trol, a 23% larger panoramic glass roof and 10.2-inch rear-seat en­ter­tain­ment screens.

There’s also a new, op­tional Live Cock­pit Pro­fes­sional dash sys­tem, which takes the iDrive con­cept even fur­ther with full dig­i­tal in­stru­men­ta­tion — you know, like you can get on a Volk­swa­gen Polo — a 12.3-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen and a bigger head-up dis­play.

With 2-mil­lion sold around the world, the South Carolinabuilt X5 has be­come one of BMW’s most bankable con­trib­u­tors and the com­pany will be ex­pect­ing to see that con­tinue with the lat­est gen­er­a­tion.

WITH 2-MIL­LION SOLD WORLD­WIDE, THE SOUTH CAROLINABUILT X5 HAS BE­COME ONE OF BMW’S MOST BANKABLE CON­TRIB­U­TORS

The de­sign is def­i­nitely an evo­lu­tion al­though the belt line gives the side pro­file a slightly new look, left. Below: The X5 will join the dig­i­tal dash­board rev­o­lu­tion.

The in­te­rior, left, gets more com­fort and more space as well as more equip­ment. The rear, below, has a much softer look than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions.

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