The BMW X5 was the Bavarian manufacturers first attempt at making an SUV. And from the beginning, 16 years ago, they’ve hardly put a foot wrong. Now the latest third-generation X5 has arrived, and I get to spend a week with it: woman versus ultimate driving machine.
Every time I make the trek from Shepparton to Melbourne, I always look forward to seeing what car is tucked behind the CarAdvice roller door. This time, it’s the all-new 2016 BMW X5, and it’s love at first sight.
The first thing I notice about the third-gen F15 X5 is its mean stance.
Rolling on 20-inch M light-alloy wheels – included as part of a $5600 M Sport package fitted to our test car – the Alpine White X5 xDrive30d looks the business. I also really like the chrome kidney grille and the new X5’s aerodynamic lines that flow up the bonnet and down the doors, all the way back to some of the most amazing tail-lights I have ever seen.
Compared with the $91,200 entry-level four-wheel-drive xDrive25d, the $102,900 xDrive30d comes standard with larger 19-inch wheels, high-beam assist for its bi-xenon headlights, a surround-view camera, and a head-up display.
The 30d also gets a 190kW/560Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel, instead of the 25d’s 170kW/500Nm twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel. Apart from the extra 20kW and 60Nm, another reason I’d be swayed into the 30d over the 25d, is the dearer variant’s standard ‘lights package’.
A $700 option on the 25d, the package includes a raft of ambient lighting touches the lift the X5 cabin after dark.
Open the driver’s door once the sun goes down, and the Ivory White leather interior is completely lit up. The vanity mirrors, front and rear foot wells, and front seat backrests are just some of the illuminated areas.
There’s even decorative blue lighting seeping from the dash and doors that make the interior feel a bit like the inside a spaceship. I haven’t even left the office yet and I already can’t wait to get home to show the BMW off.
I push the engine start button and get it moving. Reversing out of the CarAdvice driveway, the X5 instantly feels as big as a truck.
Driving down narrow roads with heavy traffic is a bit scary at first because, at 4886mm long and 1938mm wide, the X5 is just a touch larger than my usual daily runabout, my 2000 Volkswagen Beetle – 804mm longer and 206mm wider to be exact.
Once on the highway back to Shepparton, though, particularly with the X5’s lane-departure warning on board, I quickly feel more at ease.
Getting home to Shepparton, the X5 is like a fish out of water. Somewhat inconspicuous in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s CBD, out here, among the Toyota LandCruisers and Nissan Patrols, the BMW has no problems turning heads.
After loading a handful of shopping bags into the X5’s 650-litre boot, I close the power tailgate and realise that the car is surrounded by a group of high school students taking photos of it. As they snap away, I overhear a few words like, “cool car” and “don’t see too many of these around”.
Once home, my insanely jealous neighbour pops over to tell me the BMW X5 is his dream car. Next, my non-car-loving friend tells me she wants to go cruising with the panoramic glass sunroof open, instead of seeing a movie. Everywhere I go, the X5 is attracting attention.
The eight-speed automatic transmission, teamed with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, is smooth as silk. And despite weighing over two tonnes, the shove of the six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is enough to fix my head to the headrest on heavy throttle applications.
After a couple of days of driving in ‘Comfort’ mode, I was eager to try ‘Sport’ mode.
Once engaged, the X5 instantly changes down a gear, the adaptive M suspension gets noticeably firmer, and it just feels, well, faster.
Briefly trying out all of the BMW ‘Driving Experience Control’ modes, which range from ‘Eco Pro’, ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport +’, I switch things back to comfort, and net an average fuel consumption of 5.9 litres per 100km – bettering the car’s 6.2L/100km combined claim.
One of my favourite features of the X5 xDrive30d is the surround-view camera. Giving you a 360-degree view of the car from the top, rear and sides, the image is clearly displayed on the car’s 10.25-inch colour screen and it makes parking such a large car into tight shopping-centre spaces a breeze.
The BMW iDrive infotainment system is easily the simplest one I’ve used to date. It’s driven by a main rotary dial, but there are also other options to choose from such as voice input or finger writing on the top of the iDrive controller itself. Just think of the old kids’ toy, the Etch A Sketch, and you’ll be on the money – endless amounts of fun to be had. Satellite navigation is also included, with directions handily shown on the head-up display.
Cabin space is very roomy, and especially impressive in the back. I take four adults for a drive, and they are impressed at how easy it is to climb in and out of.
The seats are firm yet comfortable, and legroom is plentiful. The only issue is the ‘Canberra beige’ trim. The light colour is not ideal if you’ve got a young family, unless you plan on getting the whole car detailed – inside and out – once a week. It gets dirty very easily, and after only a few days, I already notice darker coloured pants tend to leave marks on the seats.
Another big bonus of the xDrive30d, is its standard ‘storage compartment package’. A $600 option on the xDrive25d (and rear-wheel-drive sDrive25d), the pack provides so many extra storage spots that nearly everywhere you look, there’s somewhere to put things – even underneath the boot floor.
Accessing the boot is also cool, thanks to the X5’s split tailgate. And while the X5’s boot falls short of the Audi Q7‘s for sheer capacity – the Audi offering 770L with the rear seats up – once the back seats are folded, space expands to a sizeable 1870L (still 85L off the longer Q7).
For over $100k, it would’ve also been nice to see the X5 equipped with a keyless boot opening function, such as those offered by Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes-Benz among others. More than a little handy, it means you don’t have to put your shopping on the ground while you fumble around for the keys.
Prices for the all-new BMW X5 start at $86,200 for the sDrive25d, but after my week with the xDrive30d, I can see why people might spend the extra coin. Either way, the new BMW X5 is a luxurious and practical car, fit for city-based families. But if you’re lucky enough to own one in the country, you’ll feel even more special. I know over my week, I certainly did…