X5 gets off road cred
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.