BMW takes-on Mercedes-Benz in a diverse range of new vehicle market segments and one of the most intense is prestige SUVs. BMW says the X5 is the world’s top-seller in this league and last year Australians bought 3302 of them to 2848 Mercedes-Benz MLs.
Now, life is going to be harder for ‘Benz with the launch of the third generation BMW X5 featuring extra kit, new technology and better engines.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i Overview
Standouts are plentiful across the all-new BMW X5 lineup, but for many the big news is the new $82,900 entry model - the rear-wheel-drive sDrive 25d. However we were in luck because BMW Australia handed CarShowroom.com.au the keys to the range-topping petrol model – the twin-turbo V8 xDrive 50i which retails for $133,900.
Apart from the new looks and improved drivetrain, BMW has really upped the ante for the latest X5 xDrive 50i with inclusions such as the ‘Design Pure Experience’ package (interior and exterior) now standard, as well as the ‘Professional’ suspension package which brings Dynamic Performance Control and Dynamic Drive to the Dynamic Damper control and rear axle air suspension.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i Engine
In its latest guise, it’s all good news for BMW’s glorious 4.4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine – power is up (by 30kW), torque is up (by a handy 50Nm) and fuel consumption is down (by 16 per-cent). That’s mighty impressive (should we expect anything less from BMW?) and is mostly due to the new generation BMW TwinPower Turbo technology which now adds ‘Valvetronic’ variable valve timing.
So all-up, that’s 330kW of power and peak torque of 650Nm (the latter delivered between 2000rpm – 4500rpm).
Drive is via BMW’s superb eight-speed automatic transmission (the xDrive 50i and M50d score a sports version with faster shift times).
Zero to 100km/h is now down to 5.0 seconds and combined-cycle fuel consumption rates at 10.5l/100kms (an impressive 2.0l/100kms improvement).
But, after our week in the BMW X5 xDrive 50i, just as impressive is the massive improvement in refinement. The combo of improved body control, better aerodynamics and sound-proofing plus that slick eight-speeder all adds-up to Bentley-like quietness even at warp speeds.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i The Interior
Of all the changes for the third-generation BMW X5, for us the interior design is the winner. New-design seats, new materials and outstanding ambient lighting (you can change colours) all play parts in delivering a standout look and feel.
Centre dash is the new 10.25-inch Control Display screen with black panel technology.
The xDrive 50i as tested runs as standard the ‘Design Pure Experience’package with Nappa leather (including full leather surfaces for the instrument panel), Mocha highlights and ‘Fineline Pure’ high-quality wood trim strips.
We like the updated instruments and steering wheel and, as usual, the driving position is top-notch.
Second row seats are spacious and split-fold 40:20:40 for load-carrying versatility. Cargo space is up to 650-litres (rear seat in-place) or 1870-litres (rear seat folded).
Third row seats are optional.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i Exterior & Styling
Same X5 proportions, same sporty on-road presence, the third generation models are true to the essence of X5 but also significantly different.
At the front, the hallmark BMW ‘kidney’ grille is stretched wide and the twin circular headlights feature flat bottoms and an overarching LED accent light. There’s also new air intakes and the X5 debut of BMW’s aerodynamic ‘Air Curtains’ which duct air into the front wheelarches and vents it outwards via side panel ‘Air Breathers’.
The latest X5 also debuts BMW’s rear ‘Aero Blades’ which work with the roof spoiler as part of the overall aero package.
At the rear is a two-section tailgate and new L-Shaped LED lights.
As part of the ‘Design Pure Experience’ package, our BMW X5 xDrive 50i ran brushed stainless steel underbody protection and some matt silver finishes.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i On The Road
In a car packed with this much technology and performance, it’s a sensory overload every time you climb behind the wheel of the BMW X5 xDrive 50i and the twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 springs to life. You snick that stumpy gear lever into ‘D’ and the tell-tale burble from the exhausts provides a hint of the potential lurking under right foot.
Crack the whip and the xDrive 50i can erupt – acceleration is blistering as this 2175kgs large SUV whips through the ratios of that superb eight-speed automatic. All accompanied by the amazingly muted V8 doing its thing (noise intrusion is just enough for you to enjoy the twin-turbo’s audio).
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the BMW X5 xDrive 50i was, as expected, simply brilliant with precision, balance and response you can’t believe from a full-size SUV. Perhaps the most impressive aspect was the steering – perfectly weighted at all speeds to provide the ideal amount of feedback.
Around town, that V8 was a helpful for freeway merging and all things considered the X5 does a good job of disguising its size.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i Issues
As an all-new generational change model, BMW’s stylists have been surprisingly conservative about the all-new X5 – a bit too evolutionary we reckon.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i Verdict
No doubt about it, the BMW X5 is one of the world’s best SUVs. It remains just how you’d expect BMW to deliver an SUV – incredibly competent but with genuine sportiness about its driving dynamics.
And the new third generation lineup is better in every way but especially the interior – those new seats, modernised cockpit and all-round luxury represent major advances over the previous models.
BMW X5 xDrive 50i The Competition
At first glance, the Mercedes-Benz ML500 looks like a great buy at $120,500 but - especially in this war between the German brands – you need to carefully check specific specifications (particularly as BMW now includes the ‘Design Pure Experience’ and ‘Professional’ packages as standard in the latest X5 xDrive 50i. No doubt about the twin-turbo V8 engines though – with 330kW/650Nm, BMW’s 4.4-litre trumps the Merc’s 300kW/600Nm 4.7-litre. Inside you can’t split them for space, styling and beautiful appointments.
Sadly Audi has ditched the mega V12-powered Q7 and now the range-topping petrol model is the $95,200 supercharged V6 3.0S Quattro (245kW/440Nm). We still love the looks and the driving dynamics of the Q7.
Same for Range Rover. On one hand the $123,100 HSE with 250kW/450Nm seems a tad underdone compared to the BMW X5 xDrive 50i but the HSE Dynamic (375kW/625Nm) requires significantly more coin at $161,600. But the Rangie – any Rangie – is special.