BMW has launched the third generation of the X5 SUV. Interestingly there’s now a 2WD model, the rear wheel drive-only variant is the entry-level model. The X5 sDrive 25d will hit the streets in March next year with a price tag of $82,900.
The twin-turbo-powered 2.0-litre is capable of 0-100 km/h in a respectable 8.2 seconds and sips diesel at 5.8 litres/100 km. The price tag on the sDrive 25d is exactly the same as rival Mercedes-Benz ML 2.2 BlueTec.
The addition of the 2WD model plus another two engines and four new variants will see Australia’s best selling large luxury SUV appeal to a broader buyer profile.
The sDrive 2WD will be joined by a sister vehicle running the same engine and eight-speed automatic transmission combination but with an AWD system. This is the xDrive 25d at $87,900. The engine output is 160 kW at 4400 rpm and 450 Nm between 1500 – 2500 rpm. Both models are well specified with Sat/Nav, Hi Fi sound system, extended Bluetooth functionality including audio streaming and internet functionality.
The BMW X5 sDrive 25d has stability control, Bi-Xenon headlights, LED fog lights plus attention assist, park distance control and rear view camera.
BMW has further loaded the X5 with standard goodies, improved performance, better economy and styling cues that set the vehicle apart from previous generations. In particular the new ‘kidney’ grille and head lights which combine as one give the front a distinctive new appearance.
The new BMW X5 has an entirely new look within similar proportions of the second generation model. The broader kidney grille that flows into the new headlight design makes the front look entirely different. The tail lights are also new. X5 now has two `character’ packages, ‘Design Pure Experience’ and Design Pure Excellence’ that bring the SUV into line with the latest generation of BMW vehicles. Of real interest are the air curtain vents at the front corners of the X5 that direct air around the wheel arches creating a curtain of air over the wheels and then exiting the vehicle via air breathers in the side panels.
The xDrive30d and xDrive50i models have more power than their predecessors as well as lower fuel consumption and are slightly faster to 100 km/h. The X5 30d now develops 190 kW of power (up 10kW) and 560 Nm of torque (up 20 Nm). The 4.4-litre petrol BMW X5 50i now has 330 kW (up 30 kW) and 650 Nm of torque (up 50 Nm) delivered between 2000 – 4500 rpm. This rockets the 50i to 100 km/h in 5-seconds flat.
The peak X5 model, the M50d retains the 280 kW/740 Nm output but is slightly quicker at 5.3 seconds to 100 km/h but fuel consumption is down by 0.8 litres/100 km to 6.7 litres/100 km. All engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
BMW launched the new X5 to the motoring media with three models in New Zealand’s North Island, between Taupo, Tongariro National Park and down `Gentle Annie’ to Napier on the east coast.
Models we tested were the xDrive 30d, xDrive 50i and the M50d.
Of the three vehicles, we preferred the xDrive 30d with its softer suspension, lighter feel, more direct steering and more than adequate grunt (0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds) out of the turbo-charged 3.0-litre in-line six engine.
The xDrive M50d is quite a weapon using the same inline six as the 30d, but with three turbochargers and the gear that goes into making a BMW `M’. It covers the 0-100 km/h in just 5.3 seconds.
However the X5 M50d does not really hit its optimum performance – we are talking suspension and ride and steering – until speeds that are likely to attract flashing blue lights in Australia. Around town it lacks some of the finesse that makes the 30d so driveable for daily use.
The BMW X5 xDrive 50i uses a 4.4-litre turbo-powered V8 petrol and takes just 5.0 seconds to attain 0 -100 km/h. This is one of the world’s great SUVs in terms of performance and handling – but being a petrol power plant compromises fuel consumption with combined rating of 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres and 14.1 L/100 km around town. If you can afford the $133,900 (before on-roads) then fuel prices may not be an issue.
For us the real issue is this: will the xDrive 25d perform anything like the XDrive 30d in terms of ride and handling? To answer that we are going to have to wait until March next year.
X5’s off-road ability needs to be put into the context of where BMW sees the car in the market place. When first launched – and to this day – BMW refer to the X5 as the world’s first SAV – Sports Activity Vehicle – as opposed to what the industry call it, an SUV – Sports Ulility Vehicle.
When X5 was launched it came with a promise of being an on-road vehicle that could go off road. Compare this to, for instance, the new Range Rover Sport, which is an off-road vehicle that now performs very well on-road. With that in mind we took the new X5 into off-road situations we doubt owners ever would: through creeks, along narrow steep tracks and trying out the hill descent control forward and reverse on slopes the car will probably never encounter under private ownership.
The fact is X5 is a fairly capable off-roader with 216 mm of clearance and technology that overcomes a lot of issues for a vehicle without a low range transfer box. But, it is not a match for a Range Rover. However, we feel the Range Rover Sport is not as refined as the BMW X5 on road at full pelt.
The complete BMW X5 range is:
BMW X5 sDrive 25d 2WD: $82,900
BMW X5 xDrive 25d AWD: $87,900
BMW X5 xDrive 30d AWD: $99,900
BMW X5 xDrive 35i AWD: $106,900
BMW X5 xDrive 40d AWD: $115,900
BMW X5 xDrive 50i AWD: $133,900
BMW X5 xDrive M50d AWD: $147,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for driveaway prices.