If the Range Rover had fresh thinking infused into it in 2012, could the BMW X5 remain the same for long? After all, aren’t they the arch rivals SUV buyers here consider at length, before some of them finally pick the spicier Cayenne. So in 2013, the BMW X5 appeared in its third avatar since 1999, with some exceptional comfort features that compliment its status as the younger SUV of the two.
UPSIDE: Wide availability of torque, agile drive and handling, extra-wide infotainment screen
FLIPSIDE: Blind spot information should be standard, Steering a tad oversensitive
THE PRICE ex-showroom: 2014 X5 X-Drive 50i AED AED 379,000 onwards / 2015 X5 X-Drive 35i – AED 290,000 – 310,000 [M package costs AED 20,000 extra]
THE FIGURES: X5 X-Drive 50i: 4.4 L Twin Turbo – 445 hp, 651 Nm torque, 20 inch wheels, / X-Drive 35i: 3.0 L – 300 hp, 407 Nm torque, 19 inch wheels – 8-speed transmission and launch control are standard
SPEC SHEET: Run flat ryres, panarama glass roof, Lane change warning, Park Distance Control, Harman Kardon Surround Sound System, 4-zone Auto AC,
Upper trims have 5 camera surround view, lumbar support, Head Up Display, 20” alloy wheels, LED lamps and Blind Spot Information System, Soft close doors, Dynamic handling package
Even a mitten can make out it is an X5; but there is something odd about the SUV’s revised rear. It has gathered a slight semblance to a transporter van this time around, despite the sportiness of that distinctive derriere, summed up by twin parallelogram exhausts at both extremes, and the signature BMW rear lamps.
The elegant creases on the sides as well as on the hood, could remind you of an eagle taking flight, if you are an X5 fan or has reasonably advanced imagination. The elaborate side inlet below the M badge is actually more of a design element.
So, the BMW X5 I am driving today is the X Drive 50i with the M badge. Surprisingly, and excitingly, it lives up to the M Sport first and foremost. This is one fast SUV that even comes with launch control!
The figures on the speedo keep tumbling down at breakneck speed, and before I know, I am hanging by the edge of the highway speed limit, from what was a lazily pleasant cruise just moments ago. The steering is smooth and transmits the precise feeling of a newly gauged contrivance. Only, the wheel feels like it’s hurrying ahead of the car – nevertheless, the turns are engaging.
The 8 speed gearbox compels you to notice how quickly the all new X5 goes through the transmission curve and finishes off at eight. Yet, there’s no dearth of power, thanks to the availability of it through the entire usable cycle. The downside is the occasional torque rush and the Bimmer’s habit of the taking a moment to catch its breath, before the tranny knocks down the torque barrier. But that’s a long, irksome moment.
The BMW X5 breathes the spirit of motoring. The drive settings vary from a Dynamic Sport Mode to a Sport Plus with limited electronic assistance, as you would expect of its M credentials, letting you even take the vehicle for a little ‘spin’ doing the huge torque do all the driving.
As for driving on different terrains, the X5 of course has the X-Drive, which is a four wheel power differential. It enables the X5 to take the rough with the smooth in Comfort mode. But at high speeds I would recommend the Sport mode, because you feel better in control with the pronounced grip rather than the lightness of flight that accompanies the comfort drive of the BMW X5.
And talking about lightness, the new X5 weighs nearly a hundred kilograms less and therefore, is more fuel efficient – if 5.7 kms per litre (as tested) can really be termed that.
The crystal clear camera with guidelines makes backing up a breeze. The same can’t be said though about lane changing manoeuvres. While the rear view mirror is excellent, the side mirrors don’t accommodate any recklessness in shoulder-checks.
Cabin and Controls
The new BMW X5 has not left any stone unturned in underlining its sporty credentials as well as distinctive luxury. Inside the cabin, there lingered a smell that only belonged to the BMW – the fresh, intoxicating smell of luxurious leather, or whatever else its underlying notes are.
The chocolate-coloured perforated leather seating, the wood trims lavished on inserts and panelling, thin double stitched leather linings, the sporty three-spoke steering that is gentle on your palm and even the soft shut automatic doors and electronic tailgate – they are unmistakable samples of luxurious conveniences in the new X5.
The console hosts a range of buttons from media, telephone, radio, navigation and menu, with back buttons. The control knob in gunmetal finish can be turned around or used like a joystick. This simplifies keying-in commands or destinations while there is a comprehensive voice command option on the steering wheel.
One of the remarkable things in the new BMW X5 cabin is the 10.2 inch central screen, which features a wide-map navigation and offers an 8-inch spread of crystal clear entertainment. The next-generation head-up display in the third generation BMW X5 projects more than just the speed and navigation cues. I could peek into phone numbers, user contact data and other useful info. While the adaptive cruise control or the lane departure warning is a welcome addition, the pressing need for blind spot assistance is the only ugly spot in this beautiful car.
The 2014/2015 BMW X5 is a supremely comfortable, passenger friendly cruiser in comfort mode. Even when the windows are down, it takes merciless throttling in a tunnel to actually hear the flutter and flap of the powerful V8. Despite the M badge, the sound effect is largely limited to the underbellies of the car.
The absence of a raised platform, a sensibly placed rear AC vent and a rather flat middle seat make it one of the most sensible rears in contemporary SUV cabins, allowing three adults to enjoy the ride. The boot space too is so ample that the new X5 can afford to offer a variant with two additional seats.
Sizeable entertainment screens – more than 8 inches wide I am certain – are fitted on to the front backrest. A panoramic glass sunroof is generously spread over the new BMW X5, while the full-fledged equaliser in the Harmon Kardon music system is a very thoughtful feature. Another one is the automatic closure and lock on the tailgate. Unloading the boot being probably the last thing you do after a shopping drive, you can lock the car using the tailgate button.
Thoughtfulness in the X5 cabin extends to the BMW assistance feature. Right from the detailed and quick-fix versions of the manual to a call button which connects directly to the Dubai police in case of any accident, it has you covered.
The essential BMW X5 XDrive50i M Badge
With a 4.4 litre twin turbo V8 engine, the new X5 still has its headlight turned on spotless power more than fuel savings. The appropriately taut dampening makes a pronounced difference between the family’s comfort ride and the individual’s sporty one. The wide screen, easy cabin controls and the flat-bottomed mid-seat win favours from the family. With the M package worth a twenty grand, this BMW X5 claims all of 440,000 dirhams, and that lingering scent of luxury would still be unpaid for.
Drive Courtesy: AGMC BMW
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy