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  • Mind-blowing performance for a diesel; great fuel economy; quick-shifting and seamless auto; outstanding on-road dynamics; extensive features list;
  • Steering not as good as the Porsche Cayenne\'s; monochromatic interior is looking tired; push button start that requires key fob insertion first

8 / 10

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

At a glance you could easily mistake the BMW X5 M50d for one of its lesser X5 stablemates, but aside from the familiar styling there’s nothing ordinary about the M50d.

Only the set of tractor-sized tyres and the M50d badge on its tailgate suggest something special might be going on under the bonnet.

And it certainly is. The BMW X5 M50d harbours a monster diesel engine that would seem more at home in a Le Mans racer than shoehorned into an entirely practical, family-fit SUV.

It’s an impressive powerhouse, but the nameplate may be a tad confusing. It’s not in fact a 5.0-litre unit as the badge might suggest but instead a 3.0-litre six-cylinder inline diesel with triple turbochargers that makes 280kW of power and a colossal 740Nm of torque.

It also powers the (slightly quicker) BMW X6 M50d we tested in 2012.

BMW asserts it’s the most powerful volume-produced six-cylinder diesel engine in the world – and they’re not inviting argument.

It’s enough grunt to propel the X5 M50d from 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds flat – seven-tenths behind the X5 M. Top speed is a governed 250km/h.

Developed by BMW’s M GmbH go-fast division, the same group that builds the full-fat M models, the X5 M50d falls under the M Performance brand that includes the X6 M50d and the recently released M135i hot-hatch.

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

There’s also an M550d and M550d Touring, but unfortunately for Australia these two variants are only available in left-hand-drive with xDrive.

The BMW M Performance line is intended to fit in between regular BMWs and the range-topping M models – much like AMG Package Benzes and S Model Audi’s (that sit below RS versions).

Audi will soon step into the same ring with its upcoming quattro GmbH-prepared SQ5 TDI when it launches in April 2013.

Audi’s high-performance mid-size SUV will get a 230kW/650Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, good enough to propel the SQ5 from 0-100 in 5.1 seconds, making it three-tenths quicker than the larger X5 M50d.

There’s a reasonable price leap from the regular X5 to the M Performance version. While the X5 M50d is priced from $146,500 (before on-road costs), it sits comfortably below the full-strength 408kW/680Nm BMW X5 M, which wears an even more daunting $182,700 price tag.

On the cheaper end of the diesel line-up (directly below the M50d) is the 225kW/600Nm BMW xDrive40d Sport model, priced from at a relatively affordable $112,800 before on-road costs.

The M Performance treatment of the X5 M50d is as much about the drivetrain as it is about powertrain development – so along with engine and transmission tuning, the suspension and steering have all been worked on in trademark M division style.

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

Design mods are clearly less conspicuous on the X5 M50d than they are on the full-blooded X5 M, but the beefed-up wheel arches (front and rear) and tuner-style rear apron housing with black exhaust tips give some indication of its high-performance pedigree.

Further differentiation comes from the side mirror caps and horizontal grille bars in a ferric grey metallic, together with the body-coloured front apron housing side air intakes normally reserved for foglights.

Bar the rear model badge, it’s all quite subtle – perhaps even bordering on sleeper-status. Inside, the M touch is similarly understated, with just a series of small M logos scattered throughout the cabin.

All the important stuff is there, though. The thickly padded M leather steering wheel with paddle shifters and excellent tactility is a favourite. So too are the Alcantara/Nappa leather M sports seats.

They’re well bolstered up to the armpits and the Alcantara inserts are not only comfortable, but will hold you secure no matter how high the G-forces.

Commensurate with its near range-topping position, the X5 M50d comes fully loaded with a stack of features, many of which are optional extras on regular X5s.

Highlights include: bi-xenon headlights with adaptive function and high-beam assist; head-up display; internet functionality; four-zone climate control; navigation with 8.8-inch colour screen and 12GB hard drive; auto-sensing headlamps and wipers; rear view camera with parking sensors (front & rear); and 12-speaker 205-Watt hi-fi system.

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

One very minor irritation is that despite the keyless entry feature and push button start, you still need to insert the key fob into a slot before hitting the start button.

Despite its luxury status, the X5 M50d’s interior is more business class than first class. The dash and centre stack is all too familiar and found in almost all other BMWs from 1 Series through to 7 Series.

While almost all surfaces are soft touch and have a quality look about them, the cabin is too monochromatic and falls short of the Audi Q7 in this regard.

The BMW X5 M50d is a large SUV, so there’s plenty of room for five adults, although the rear seating design is best suited to two adults, at least for longer trips.

An almost flat floor aids rear seat legroom and there’s a tonne of headroom fore and aft.

Buyers can also option third-row seating with two separate folding seats boasting additional ventilation ($7600), but you will forfeit the space saver for a mobility kit.

The X5 gets huge front door pockets capable of swallowing several large water bottles, but the glove box is small as is the centre console storage bin.

There’s an ample 620 litres of load space in the luggage compartment that increases to 1750-litres with the rear seatbacks folded (not completely flat) and the X5 also gets a split tailgate for easier access.

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

While the flexibility of this large SUV can’t be discounted, the decision to purchase an M-powered BMW is surely all about the performance. Well, the X5 M50d gets plenty of that.

Fire up the mighty 3.0-litre diesel and there’s no disguising that familiar clatter. It sounds like any other oil-burner at idle, giving no hint of what’s to come.

Call it a Jekyll and Hyde shift, but the moment the rev counter nudges 2000rpm, you’ve got a full 740Nm of torque taking care of business. And that clatter has developed into more of a snarl.

There’s almost no lag, either, with the first of the three sequential turbocharges chiming in at speeds just above idle. Push on, even slightly, and the larger second turbo spools up from just 1500rpm and you can feel a deliberate but linear surge.

Leave your right foot planted on the throttle and all three turbocharges are on song – and the X5 M50d moving rapidly, with terrific in-gear acceleration.

Throttle response from almost anywhere in the rev range is exceptional for a vehicle of this size and mass (2150kg), and while maximum power output is between 4000 and 4400rpm this diesel doesn’t mind revving out to 5400rpm.

Fuel consumption is rated at just 7.5L/100km, too, with our broad range of speeds and roads during a rain-drenched test period bringing 10.8L/100km up on the trip computer.

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

The X5 M50d gets a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission that’s been fettled by the M-division squad and you’ll be hard pressed picking it from a dual-clutch unit, such is the shift speed.

The gearshifts themselves are totally seamless – you’re aware of them, but you can’t feel the transition from one gear to another even when you’re going for it.

For extra driver involvement the BMW X5 M50d offers M mode, which holds the gear ratios until the engine revs hit the limiter.

The X5 M50d’s grip levels are astonishing, particularly in the mostly monsoon conditions we had to endure during our test.

With massive Dunlop Sport 315/35/R20 series tyres down back and 275/40/R20s at the front, there’s plenty of contact with Terra Firma. And even during full throttle launches from standstill we couldn’t detect any slip or loss of traction. Traction control was certainly working (you could see it light up in the dial), but was so subtle as not be felt.

The BMW X5 M50d is equally adept in the corners, featuring M-specification tuning of the chassis. Body roll has virtually been eliminated and composure is rock solid – even in slippery conditions.

While there’s decent steering accuracy through the corners and it’s nicely weighted from the dead centre, the level of driver feedback isn’t a match for the benchmark steering of the rival Porsche Cayenne.

BMW X5 M50d Review
BMW X5 M50d Review

And despite featuring air suspension and automatic self-levelling at the rear axle, the X5 M50d offers a ride that is, perhaps expectedly for its performance slant, on the firm side.

Small imperfections on the road are felt through the cabin, though larger bumps are absorbed quite well given its stiffened chassis set-up.

The BMW X5 has consistently been one of the best SUVs to drive, and the BMW X5 M50d variant is a worthy addition that offers buyers a chance to taste the world of M performance for less than $150,000 and without spending excessively on fuel.

BMW X5 M50d Review
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  • Pro346



    There’s nothing like a Fosters

    That’s true

  • Jerrycan

    A marvellous piece of engineering with a staggering over abundance of power that will clearly indicate to any observer the small size of the driver’s appendage.

  • Bart

    Mr BMW can I have that engine in a 3 series please

    • Liezel

      With AWD!

  • Mike_suzy

    Can we have better towing capasity

    • Claude_defraud

      Towing capacity is subject to a cars torque/power output and also the weight of the car.
      If you want better towing capacity from this vehicle then you’re asking for a heavier car, because the engine output is certainly not the problem.

    • Passer By

      When you learn to spell we might consider it

  • JD


  • GregR

    Overall an informative piece but Anthony Crawford, this reviewer, seems too full of personal opinions – take for example his comment that the interior is too monochromatic; for whom I ask. The attraction to conservative types like me is the understated tenor of Germanic style and design; we prefer to avoid the ‘Las-Vegas’ atmosphere which some motoring correspondents appear to favour. Pandering to this glitz brigade will not help car companies in the long-run because the majority of Australians and other nationals for that matter prefer the interior of their car to emulate the aura of their own home. I have owned a standard X5 but preferred my 530 wagon and I guess that even if I could afford this vehicle I would probably settle for something different. 

    • Anthony

       Greg, I’m not a fan of Vegas-style either, but I’m a fan of Audi quality interiors.

    • Tom

      Rather comments from a learned individual than a robot.

      • Sincerely

        I agree, we are just waiting for that learned individual you refer to. Someone that appreciates the difference between subjective and objective and knows when/how to use both.

    • Sincerely

      That’s because Anthony is among the most useless automotive reviews on the Australian web. Try reading his review of the Hyundai Imax and you can quickly tell his personal views have little bearing on the target markets demographics and their motoring interests and requirements.
      I fail to see what positive contribution he brings to CA. Maybe he is just cheap?

      • GregR

        I believe your moniker may be a slight misnomer because ostensibly there seemed to be nothing sincere about your rather personal comments concerning the author of the review. I certainly did not intend my original remarks to be the start of a ‘dislike’ Anthony thread. My point was that as a reader of reviews, I would just prefer authors to compose their reviews in a manner which states facts rather than personal opinion. I can form my own opinion from facts but struggle with the opinions of others.  

        • Sincerely

          It is rather ironic that you yourself cannot differentiate between fact and opinion. Clearly you want to speak for others in regards to their opinion. Whether you agree or not is just as subjective as the comments by the author of the review. A good idea would be to stick to facts, otherwise you are a hypocrite.

          • GregR

            Reading your latest response, the expression which comes to mind is ‘double-dutch’, but also grammatically incorrect and I regret to say, immature rather than sincere. I have no intention of getting involved in an exchange of insults with you so take note – this thread is terminated.Anthony – if you read this, then I apologise that what I thought was a reasonable original comment on your generally factual review  has produced such ignorant diatribe.

  • F1orce

    740Nm of torque and 0-100 in 5.4?? I mean come on

    The upcoming Audi Q5 with 650Nm and 230kW will do the same sprint in 5.1 seconds

    Also there’s a Tesla Model S which weighs in excess of 2 tonnes, has only 600Nm but does the 0-100 sprint in 4.4 seconds and it has been tested to be able to do it in only 3.9 seconds

    And additionally there are cars with much less torque that have very similar straight line performance.

    • Exar Kun

      A 0-100km/h sprint is less about torque and more about power to weight ratio and traction.  Rolling acceleration would probably be pretty good, I’d imagine.

    • Fasdf

      Why are you repeating info on the upcoming Q5? This Q5 was already mentioned in the article.
      The article also correctly mentions that the Q5 is a MEDIUM car whilst this X5 is a LARGE car. The X5 is over 200kgs heavier than the Q5.

      The Tesla is electric and electric motors have superior power/torque delivery compared to any Petrol OR diesel engine. It also has 310KW and as Mick said, brute acceleration is about Power not Torque. That’s why a car like the Mazda Rx8 easily beats a Focus Trend or Lancer VR for acceleration  despite having near identical weight and torque outputs.

      • F1orce

        The Q5 isn’t much heavier. And this BMW has a whopping 140Nm & 50kW advantage. Easily making up for the little weight gain.

        And electric cars have good acceleration, but after about 100km/h they become very slow and don’t pull as good as Petrol/diesel.

        Look at Tesla Roadster, it has 400Nm & over 200kW with a very light weight body and it cannot even make it to 160km/h

        The 1.8L Corolla with a mere 100kW & 175Nm can make it all the way to 200Km/h without much fuss.

        And the Tesla cost $200,000
        Where as the Corolla cost $19,990 LMAO

        -Besides, the Corolla can continue travelling at 200km/h for a much longer amount of time than Tesla travelling constantly at 60km/h

        • Dfgjh

           Wrong as usual F1orce.

          200Kgs is a big difference in weight for a car particularly when talking about standing start acceleration.

          Telsa Roadster does 201kmh not 160kmh. The top speed is limited by having a reduction gear instead of a gearbox and the engines rev limit of 14,000rpm. A taller reduction gear or a actual set of gears would give it a far better top speed. The performance it can achieve from a single gear is incredible really, just think how slow a Crapolla would be with a single speed gearbox.
          Also the body may be lightweight on the Tesla, but the overall car weight isn’t due to the batteries.

          • F1orce

            I didn’t say the Tesla was slow, obviously acceleration is good, but at about 4 seconds it isn’t very good for what it is.

            Also the reduction gear is used to spread the power curve further, over more speeds.
            Watch several videos of it on YouTube, after 160km/h it just doesn’t pull. Also ICE engines are more efficient at high speeds/ highway.

          • Dfgjh

             Pffffff. A reduction gear is a single gear. It’s hardly spreading the power curve, it’s all relative and the weak areas of the engine’s power delivery is also spread out.
            Compare the acceleration of the Roadster Sport to your beloved Lexus LFA, very similar 0-100kmhs times around 3.7 secs except that the LFA is 1480kgs with 412KW = 3.6KG/KW whilst the Tesla Sport is 1235Kgs/215KW = 5.7KG/KW. So approaching half the power to weight ratio of LFA but same 0-100kmh time – and the Tesla is a first effort from a new start up company against the richest car company in the world AND the Tesla uses no gearbox.

            As if random youtube videos represent the realities of life. Proper 0-400m tests on the Roadster S show it traps at over 160kmh anyway. Of course it gets slower over that speed, IT ONLY HAS ONE GEAR!

            The ICE engine cannot get anywhere near the efficiency level of a Electric motor at any speed. That is one very, very simple fact that even a primary school child knows.. Otherwise, why would we use electricity for anything at all? We’d just use petrol to power everything.

    • Rick

      You don’t seem to understand how an electric motor works when you’re quoting the Tesla. An electric motor will always outpower / torque a combustion engine because with an electric motor peak torque comes in at 0 revs if you like (depending how you program the delivery). So the Tesla can reach peak torque in an instant hence giving it superior acceleration to most combustion engined cars.

      • F1orce

        Peak torque does come at 0rpm (for most AC, DC motors) But peak power is definantly not at 0rpm

    • Hans

      There’s no point comparing an electric car to a non-electric car in terms of power, torque and acceleration. The power delivery is just entirely different and anyone’s argument who is based on such a comparison is simply moot and should be ignored. Sorry, F1orce, Fasdf, Dfgjh – y’all should just stop talking and making fools of yourselves.

  • GregR

    Wow – I am impressed. First of all I did not expect a response from the author of the review and certainly not as quickly as that – thanks. My comments were not intended to be impolite however I believe like that, just TV presenters, anyone writing a professional motoring review should offer comment completely free of personal preferences or bias. Review readers such as me are not interested in the likes or dislikes of the reviewer but expect to be given clear information enabling us to form our own conclusions. We have not driven the vehicle and must rely on precise facts and figures to form a judgment from that – rather than another’s personal opinion. That said I must complement you on the overall clarity of your style; plenty of simple facts all glued together as they should be. Thanks.

    • Bart

      Greg, how would you describe the interior? It’s got black seats (can’t say if I find them comfortable or not ’cause that’s a personal opinion) a round steering wheel (too big, too small – no, another personal opinion) etc. I think you’re being way too pedantic but I do agree, with my personal opinion, about your observation, even opinion, regarding understated design. Bling sells to certain people. They go to places like Vegas for holidays, and think it’s great. In my opinion the place is a tarted up dump but millions, and their money, would disagree. Free world, do whatever pulls your chain.

  • Toyo

    I cannot imagine how much a set of tyres will cost for this car. 

    • Sally Forth

      I had the same thought too. But then, I guess if you can spend $150K or more on this, then you can afford the tyres too. I wonder how long they would last, 30,000km, maybe 40K, then your up for, I guess, at least $3K for a new set.

      • Panda

        I have just ordered the X5M///50d, which will be my 5th X5.
        I just replaced the tyres on my 4.8s, first tyre replacement at 35,000 and a full set of all 4 cost 2k at Tempe Tyres, fitted and balanced. But I didn’t install run flats, as I find the ride too firm. They would have added about $500 to the price.

  • Panda

    I have just ordered the X5M///50d, which will be my 5th X5.
    My wife also has the current 40d, I’m saying good bye to my 4.8s after 4 years of great driving pleasure.
    The 50d pulls and pulls under acceleration, it’s mind blowing to think there’s a diesel under there, and when I was tossing up between the M and the 50i, it’s the best of the bunch when all things are considered.
    I test drove the Merc M, AudiQ7, Jeep Cherokee SRT8, Porsche Cayenne and the Rangie supercharged sport. X5 hands down is the best handling, best ergonomics, best gearbox and overall comfort. Sure it gets a little pricey once you start adding options, but that’s fairly typical with Euro Marques.
    As for the interior, there’s lots of options open to you from BMW to change trims and with after market 3M wraps in just about every conceivable colour, fake food look, metallics and carbon fibers….you can do what you want for very little investment. But overall the cabin is typical BMW, understated, stylish, immaculately finished, slightly skewed to the driver and generally a beautiful place to be,

BMW X5 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$102,630 - $116,630
Dealer Retail
$99,160 - $117,920
Dealer Trade
$78,800 - $93,300
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
740Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
280kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:2700  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
275/40 R20
Rear Tyres
315/35 R20
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
Automatic/Self levelling Suspension, Sports Suspension, Traction Control System
Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Sound System with 12 Speakers
Xenon Headlights
Wood Grain Trim
Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Optional Features
Power Sunroof, Rear seat enhancement pack, Third Row Seats
Premium Sound System, Television
Metallic Paint, M Sport Package II, Power Tailgate
Protective Glazing
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Inner Guard
Country of Origin
United States Of America