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2014 BMW X5 Review Photo:
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Tony O'Kane | Nov, 18 2013 | 5 Comments

BMW X5 REVIEW

What’s Hot: Performance, equipment, refinement, and that M50d.
What’s Not: Dead steering, squeezy third row.
X-FACTOR: Dynamic, stylish and capable, the choice for the suburban well-heeled and class leader of the luxury SUV segment.

Vehicle Style: Large Luxury SUV
Price:
$82,900 (X5 sDrive25d) to $147,900 (M50d)

Models Tested:
X5 xDrive30d: 190kW/560Nm 3.0 turbodiesel 6cyl / 8sp auto
X5 xDrive50i: 330kW/650Nm 4.4 turbo petrol 8cyl / 8sp auto
M50d: 280kW/740Nm 3.0 turbo diesel 6cyl / 8sp auto

Fuel Economy claimed:
6.2l/100km (X5 xDrive30d)
10.5 l/100km (X5 xDrive50i)
6.7 l/100km (M50d)

 

OVERVIEW

The outgoing E70 X5 remains a benchmark. Carlike around corners, yet rugged and tractable enough to deal with the odd patch of dirt.

Big, tall and very comfortable, that BMW X5 badge absolutely dominates the large luxury SUV segment.

So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?

With the new F15 X5 BMW has chosen to stick to the formula, but has added significant polish to the presentation, packaging and powertrains.

 

THE INTERIOR

The interior now sports design themes from the F30 3 Series and F10 5 Series, and the presentation is clean and fuss-free.

It also looks great. There’s new LED mood lighting that lifts the cabin ambience at night, and the 10.25-inch multi function display makes a fine centrepiece for the dash.

Besides the standard leather upholstery, X5 buyers can opt to have their interior in one of three configurations: M Sport, design Pure Excellence or design Pure Experience.

M-Sport brings a black headliner, textured aluminium trim, a three-spoke M steering wheel, sports seats for the driver and front passenger (with the exception of the 50i) and wheel-mounted shift paddles for the 25d and 30d models.

The design 'Pure Excellence' swaps the dark leather upholstery in favour of white Nappa leather with contrast stitching, and pairs it with grey leather on the dash and door trims and American Oak wood trim.

Design 'Pure Experience' is similar, but with brown and black leather rather than white and grey.

The second row slides fore and aft, as with the previous model you can opt for a third row (no cost on the M50d, $3200 on the 50i and $4600 on everything else) to take total seating capacity to seven.

But though the X5 is a big car, the third row is strictly for kids. Adult-levels of knee and foot-room are in short supply even with the second row slid fully forward, and entering and exiting can be a bit of a squeeze.

It’s also difficult to release and stow the 50/50 split third row.

It's released via a latch on the backrest that has to be pulled as the seat is either raised or lowered. If you’re a little on the short side, this can be hard to accomplish when standing at the rear bumper.

On the plus side, boot space has swelled. There’s now 650 litres with the second row in place, and 1870 litres with all seats folded flat - increases of 30 and 120 litres respectively.

As for gadgetry, the standard list is impressive.

BMW’s high-end navigation System Professional is standard on all F15 X5s and incorporates a touch-pad interface on top of the iDrive controller, and there’s also the usual dual-zone climate control (quad-zone for 50i and M50d), electric front seats and cruise control.

Bi-xenon headlamps and LED fog lamps are standard across the range, and so too are rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps and front and rear parking sensors.

And standard equipment levels only get more lavish the further you move up the range. All models besides the upcoming 25d get a head-up display as well as a forward anti-collision system with lane departure warning.

Opt for the 50i or M50d, and you get active cruise control added to the mix.

BMW’s nifty top-down Surround View camera system is also standard on all X5s bar the 2WD and AWD X5 25d.

Bluetooth audio and phone integration, a USB input, internet connectivity and voice-activated controls are fitted to all models, with the 50i and M50d also gaining a digital radio tuner.

As for the options list? As is usual for BMW, the available options are many and varied and encompass everything from a forward-facing night vision camera to heated rear seats to a panoramic glass sunroof.

 

ON - AND OFF - THE ROAD

Ever since the first-generation X5 arrived in 1999, handling and performance has always been a highlight of the X5 experience.

Previous iterations have always been 'carlike' in the way they take to a winding road, and performance variants like the X5M and M50d boast handling and power that exceeds many hi-po road cars.

Does the new F15 X5 carry on this tradition? You bet.

BUT… there are caveats.

The ride on the standard 19-inch tyres of the X5 xDrive30d is comfortable yet a tad spongy, while the larger 20-inch wheels of the 50i and M50d deliver excellent turn-in response but introduce some brittleness on choppy pavement.

That said, ride comfort is on the whole a great deal better than it was in the outgoing E70 generation X5.

Complicating things somewhat is the astonishing number of different suspension configurations that are available across the X5 range.

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The standard set up on low-end models like the 30d consists of steel coils and conventional dampers, but add a third row of seats and you gain air suspension at the rear (part of the “Comfort” adaptive suspension).

Further to that is the 'Dynamic' adaptive suspension, which is standard on the M50d.

As the name suggests, roll suppression and cornering grip are the priority with this chassis.

Got a 50i? You can get the 'Professional' adaptive suspension package, which offers a slightly tauter ride than the 'Comfort' specification - but not if you have the M Sport package equipped. In that case you get the Adaptive M Suspension (which is standard on the M50d).

Confused? We don’t blame you, but after sampling most of these systems we can say this: the X5’s body control and cornering grip is , especially in the xDrive50i and M50d.

Both of these models come standard with Dynamic Performance Control meaning you score a torque-vectoring rear axle.

With torque vectoring the X5 is able to channel power between the left and right wheels to help steer the car through corners, and the effect it has on performance is staggering.

In tighter corners it means you can jump on the power early and let the capable xDrive system sort things out.

With the ability to take 100 percent of drive to either axle and infinite variability in torque split, it’s pretty hard to unglue.

And that’s no small feat; the 50i’s 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 has a phenomenal 330kW and 650Nm and is capable of a 0-100km/h time of five seconds flat. (It's the one we'd opt for if fuel costs weren't an issue.)

Meanwhile the triple-turbo 3.0 diesel six in the M50d has a more modest 280kW, but a stump-pulling 740Nm of torque.

The M50d is 0.3 seconds slower to 100km/h, but its prodigious torque makes it feel even more effortlessly quick than the petrol V8.

Though its outputs of 190kW and 560Nm may not be as exciting as the 50i or M50d, the 30d still has ample power and torque. It’s a relaxed powertrain, and a quiet one too.

In fact, noise and vibration are beautifully suppressed in the new X5.

Travelling at triple digit speeds only saw the mildest of wind rustle from the wing mirrors, and conversation between first and second row was never strained.

Even tyre noise was less intrusive than it ordinarily is for a BMW.

All X5s are fitted with BMW’s excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, and it works a charm.

Shifts are fluid and almost imperceptible when under light load, but squeeze the throttle a bit harder and gearchanges arrive later and more decisively.

The wheel-mounted paddles on the performance models are also fairly quick to respond.

The only downside we could find to the X5’s on-road performance concerned the steering.

It’s electrically assisted in the new X5, and is dull and lifeless. There’s little feedback about what’s going on under the front wheels, and it feels overly light when travelling at speed.

 

TMR VERDICT

The new X5 range is something of a triumph for BMW. Steering aside, it’s better in almost every respect.

The new X5 will have no trouble continuing the sales success of its predecessor.

And as a do-it-all wagon, the one that shines brightest for us is the M50d. Space for seven, able to rip through a mountain pass with staggering speed, fuel-efficient and extraordinarily well equipped, its $147,900 asking price sits on a very sophisticated and capable car.

In reality, there not a dud choice among the new X5 range: 30d, 50i or M50d - these are excellent cars.

And there are more: you can add the xDrive35i, xDrive40d or the 2WD and AWD 25d models to your showroom choices.

We’ll reserve our judgement on these latter models until we’ve driven them, but right now the new X5 range is mightily impressive.

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

The 2014 BMW X5 is on-sale now, with deliveries for all but the xDrive50i and M50d models to begin from March.

  • BMW X5 sDrive25d -$82,900
  • BMW X5 xDrive25d -$87,900
  • BMW X5 xDrive30d - $99,900
  • BMW X5 xDrive35i - $106,900
  • BMW X5 xDrive40d - $115,900
  • BMW X5 xDrive50i - $133,900
  • BMW X5 M50d - $147,900

 
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