BET­TER BEEMER

BMW’s new im­proved X5

Geelong Advertiser - - MOTORING - Craig Duff

EX­PO­NEN­TIALLY bet­ter is the catchcry for BMW’s new X5. It’s a bet­ter drive, has much bet­ter kit and is se­ri­ously bet­ter value.

The vol­ume-sell­ing ver­sion, the xDrive 30d holds steady on price at $112,990 be­fore on-road costs and adds the likes of adap­tive LED head­lamps, ad­vanced park­ing and driv­ing aids, sports front seats and ges­ture control as stan­dard.

The quad-turbo M50d climbs by $5000 to $149,900 and adds laser head­lamps, ges­ture control, more soft­ware aids, adap­tive dampers and ac­tive cruise control with traf­fic sign recognition, which BMW says adds more than $11,000 to the value.

The X5 has been the best-sell­ing large pres­tige SUV in Aus­tralia for more than a decade, with 55,000 ex­am­ples finding homes since the 2001 launch. It has also over­taken the 3 Se­ries as the brand’s sin­gle most im­por­tant model, which makes the launch of this fourth-gen­er­a­tion a big deal — and a big­ger propo­si­tion, lit­er­ally.

Length on this new X5 is up by 36mm, width by 66mm and it rides 19mm higher. Most of that space has im­proved rear seat com­fort — there’s rea­son­able leg room and the stan­dard panoramic sun­roof doesn’t im­pinge on head­room.

The cargo area is un­changed at 650L and all X5 vari­ants will still tow up to 2700kg.

There is no short­age of op­tions to per­son­alise your X5. The 30d comes stan­dard with an x-Line style pack but his­tory shows more than 80 per cent of buy­ers will in­vest in the M Sport look, which up­grades the stan­dard dampers to adap­tive items, adding beefier brakes, re­vised steer­ing wheel and al­loy ped­als for $4000.

ON THE ROAD

BMW’s in­sis­tence on call­ing its soft-road­ers “sports ac­tiv­ity ve­hi­cles” is re­flected in the firm ride on the 30d M Sport’s steel springs and adap­tive dampers. Don’t ex­pect to be sip­ping tea in the rear seats when mo­bile, even with the drive mode in com­fort.

The ride isn’t in­tru­sive but will rip­ple rather than roll over small im­per­fec­tions on the road.

In con­trast, the M50d amps up the stiff­ness to the point it jolts over those same bumps, though it com­pen­sates by be­ing all-but im­mune to body pitch and roll. It will tire as a daily driver, mak­ing the air sus­pen­sion a log­i­cal choice.

In both, the en­gine is the most en­joy­able fea­ture, ex­hibit­ing only a touch of lag be­fore the tacho climbs to­wards peak torque at 2000rpm.

Steer­ing re­sponse has been sharp­ened and the eight-speed auto in­vari­ably finds the right gear at the right time. The com­bi­na­tion makes the X5 an en­ter­tain­ing car to drive on twist­ing tar­mac.

The clar­ity of the dig­i­tal dash and head-up dis­play is good and the over­all drive ex­pe­ri­ence is hugely com­pe­tent, if not cos­set­ing.

DEALER: Gee­long BMW PHONE: 5221 2111 WEB: gee­longbmw.com.au

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