A 200-kilometre-long drive in the all-new, fourth-generation BMW X5 in Atlanta, USA, ably highlighted all the aspects in which this SUV marks a vast improvement on its predecessor
The all-new X5 is a huge step forward
The popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUV) is on the rise worldwide and the demand for SUVs keeps going up as compared to that for the sedans. On the personal front, I was not an SUV fan, for they tend to be big and cumbersome to drive with a lot of body-roll. However, after driving SUVs like the BMW X5, especially on Indian roads, now I swear by them for long-distance driving in India.
We were in Atlanta, USA , to drive the all-new, fourth-generation BMW X5. As we entered through the hotel gate, the black X5 on display in the middle of the courtyard looked imposing.
The SUV has grown on all the fronts with an increase of 42 millimetres over the predecessor and 36 mm in overall length of the car. The X5 has extra 66 mm of width and another 19 mm have been added to the height of this SUV.
The most striking feature at the front is the large BMW kidney grille that merges into the LED headlamps. The front bumper has big air vents for cooling the intercoolers and the brakes. This wide grille with the big air intakes gives the X5 a sporty and aggressive look.
The character line on the SUV’s flanks, which rises up at the rear door, is the key to the modern look of the new X5 with its large wheel-arches that house the big 21- and 22-inch wheels. The slits behind the front wheel-arch helps with air flow, in letting the hot air out fr om the wheel well. The SUV is so well-proportioned that though the display car was fitted with 22-inch wheels, it looked more like one with 19-inch ones.
The character line continues from the side of the car into the wrap-around LED tail-lamps that extend into the flanks. The rear design is in line with the rest of the car’s sporty look. The new X5 looks bigger, sportier, and luxurious at the same time.
Inside, the new X5 has grown in size with the clear structure of the instrument panel and the centre console. The raised driving position and design of the instrument console help with ease of driving as one does not have to take one’s eyes off the road. The commanding driving position facilitates good all-round visibility for the driver. Besides the crystal gear-shift knob, the other features designed to enhance luxury include multifunction leather seats, cooled/heated cupholders, panorama glass roof sky lounge, dynamic interior lights, and Bower & Wilkins diamond surround sound system. The new BMW operating system 7.0 display and control concept makes its début in the X5 and it focuses on optimizing attention control. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional system comprises an instrument cluster and control display (both 12.3-inch). The interior is well-appointed as one would expect of BMW.
On the occupant safety front, this SUV is equipped with air bags on the front side and the roof for the driver and passengers.
The new X5 will have an option of one V8 and three in-line six engines. Those that will make their way to India are the six-cylinder petrol and diesel units in the
form of xDrive 40i petrol, xDrive 30d, and M50d diesel. The 40i produces 340 PS and 450 Nm. The M50d is fitted with a quartet of turbochargers and produces 400 PS and 760 Nm while the 30d puts out 265 PS and 620 Nm.
The engine is mated to an eight-speed steptronic transmission and the power is put down on the road via xDrive, the BMW all-wheel-drive system. To maximize traction, agility and dir ection stability are taken care of by the all-wheel-drive system. The latest generation of the BMW xdriv e is now able to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels more efficiently as the situation demands. The new xDrive system offers a rear-biased torque distribution for a driver with a dynamic driving style.
The suspension set-up is double-wishbone air suspension with aut omatic self-levelling at the front and the r ear has a five-link air suspension with self-lev elling. The multi-link air suspension comes with a host of t echnologies such as dynamic damper contr ol with active roll stabilization and integral active steering to enhance agile and dynamic driving charact eristics. The two-axle air suspension caters to anyone seeking greater ride comfort and also allows the v ehicle height to be adjusted up to 80 mm at the t ouch of a butt on.
The engine options for the driv e were the 40i and the 30d. The obvious choice for the driv e was the 30d. The moment I pressed the start-stop button, the in-line six motor came to life without a sound. Aft er a couple of miles, I got on t o the freeway and the X5 was cruising without a sound from the engine. Normally, BMW diesel engines deliver excellent performance but t end to be a little noisy, but this engine is so r efined that you don’t hear it and you can ’t feel the engine vibration that one normally associates with diesel powerplants. The new SUV is more luxurious from the seating t o the entire in-cabin comforts and sound insulation.
The X5 has not lost its dynamic ability or the driving pleasure and, at the same, it has become more luxurious. If you want to throw the car around corners, all you have to do is select the Sport mode and if you want to drive in the lap of luxury, then select the Comfort mode.
The 130-mile (200-km) drive from the hotel consisted of a mix of highway and country roads and it brought out the best in the X5 on the motorway. This SUV can cruise without a sound and, at the same time, you can h ave fun throwing her round corners on the country roads. What was amazing was the ride quality even with 35-profile tyres.
The other aspect that BMW have worked on is off-roading capability and now you can do some serious off-the-beaten-track driving which I experienced on the off-road course as you can see in some of the pictures here.
The two-fold mandate that the BMW engineers received was to make the SUV more luxurious and improve its off-roading capabilities and, let me tell you, they have done an excellent job on both the fronts. The new X5 has come a long way where it is still fun to drive and luxurious at the same time with good off-roading capabilities.
This SUV can cruise without a sound and, at the same time, you can have fun throwing her round corners on the country roads