Perfect compromise between handling, versatility and off-road prowess.
Perfect compromise between handling, versatility and off-road prowess.
Unless you’ve driven one, you’ll find that claim hard to believe – I know I did. So I jumped behind the wheel of BMW’s latest sporty diesel X5, it’s called the BMW X5 xDrive40d.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine. It’s good for 225kW and an impressive 600Nm of torque. That translates to a lightning fast and face-shoving 0-100km/h dash of 6.6-seconds, more on this later though.
BMW has kept to the X5’s styling roots with the latest revision, only altering the styling slightly. Exterior changes are limited to revisions to the front and rear bumper bars, new rear tail lights with LED banks and new LED ‘angel eyes’ for the headlights, giving the car a more prominent feel on the road.
Our test vehicle was fitted with optional mammoth M light-alloy wheels that measured 275mm wide at the front and a huge 315mm at the rear, coupled with 20” wheels. The optional wheels give the X5 added grip and presence of the road, but come at the cost of ride quality.
Inside the cabin you can expect to find an opulent and well appointed interior. Leather seats, coupled with leather wrapped steering wheel and door trim add to the luxury on offer.
The driving position leaves the driver feeling comfortable, but suitably high to give the feeling of assurance and power on the road. Visibility is excellent out the front and rear.
A great new feature called Top View allows the driver to see the car from a bird’s eye view. A set of ultra-wide angle cameras mounted on the rear and sides give the impression of viewing the car from a bird’s perspective. The advantage is experienced when reversing into tight gaps with walls either side or at the rear of the vehicle.
The Top View can be used alongside the regular reversing camera. While the quality of the reversing camera on the BMW 550i GT I recently tested was exceptional, the reversing camera on the X5 was low-resolution in comparison and offered below average viewing when reversing at night time.
The massive 8.8-inch colour LCD screen that displays the reversing functions is also used to present audio, climate and navigation information. The intuitive system – dubbed iDrive – features an 80GB hard disk drive for storing audio, in addition to a DVD drive for viewing video and a split-screen function that increases versatility.
My only grumble with the system was how long it took to transfer music files from an audio CD to the hard disk. Unless you had an hour long drive ahead of you, the system didn’t have enough time to transfer all files and wouldn’t resume from its previous position, it continuously hard to start from the beginning.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional TV Function that provided a provision for watching analogue and digital television. While you couldn’t watch television while the car was moving, our test vehicle also featured a rear DVD system that used a fold-able DVD screen that sits in between the driver and front passenger seat.
The rear DVD screen featured two headphones and a remote control that allowed rear seat passengers control over the content they were viewing.
BMW’s latest iteration of the navigation system features 3D maps and includes profiled images of buildings in cities and surrounding areas, in addition to voice control that allows the entry of navigation addresses without needing to take your eyes off the road.
Front and rear leg and head room is exceptional. Three adults can comfortably fit along the second row with room to spare. An optional third row allows for two extra child seats with headrests and three point automatic seatbelts.
With the rear seats standing, there is 620 litres of storage on offer. That figure almost triples to 1750 litres when the second row is folded flat, offering excellent versatility.
You can rest assured that simply because the X5 is powered by truck fuel, it handles and goes nothing like a truck. With BMW’s new eight-speed automatic gearbox, any application of the throttle has the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel ready to leap.
Acceleration in any gear is nothing short of manic when required, while on the same token is totally sedate and fuel efficient when cruising. Luckily the X5 has the handling prowess to match its stellar acceleration.
The extremely direct steering and very accurate brake pedal go hand in hand to offer sedan-like handling (there’s that catch phrase again) in every sense of the term.
If you throw the X5 into a corner, it holds on relentlessly to the point where silly antics are required to get it unstuck. That is partly thanks to the optional M Sport Package fitted to our test vehicle that includes 315mm wide rubber at the rear.
While it handles like a sports car, it also unfortunately rides like one. The big wheels and firm suspension mean a very jarring ride that quickly becomes frustrating if you drive on anything but perfect roads.
Luckily, the X5 xDrive40d can be optioned without the M Sport Package, offering a completely different ride in comparison. While you lose out on the handling is a minor regard, it’s worth the compromise.
You can expect a combined fuel consumption average of 7.5L/100km – staggering for such a large car.
Weighing in at 2.1-tonne, it’s surprising that BMW have managed to create such a sharply honed cross between SUV and sports car.
While you will rarely ever see an X5 with a speck of dirt on it, I took our test car off-road to see if it served any purpose as a four-wheel-drive.
You won’t find any fancy off-road trickery in the mechanical package, aside from the standard all-wheel-drive system. In saying that, the xDrive system copes well with muddy terrain and suspension articulation.
With 170mm of ground clearance, you won’t find an X5 hopping rocks in the outback, but it is enough for casual off-road driving to the bush or down an unsealed road.
When faced with a muddy track filled with mogul and pot holes, the X5 managed to conquer the terrain with very little fuss. With stability control switched off, the X5’s all-wheel-drive system shuffled power around the drivetrain as required, never leaving the X5 stuck.
Practicality is also extended to towing with an impressive 2700kg braked towing capacity (750kg unbraked).
The BMW X5 range starts at $92,100 for the xDrive30d and finishes at $176,900 for the X5 M. The xDrive40d tested retails for $113,300.
At $113,000 the xDrive40d offers exceptional value for money when you consider the sporty drive that’s on offer. It’s the perfect compromise between off-road ability, sporty drive, fuel economy and interior room. In some ways, it’s the perfect family vehicle. As you can see with our test vehicle, it's not hard to stack on an addition ten, twenty or even thirty thousand dollars at the drop of a hat.
If you’re in the market for a premium SUV, it’s impossible to look beyond the BMW X5 range, with the xDrive40d in particular.
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*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.