2014 BMW X5 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large luxury SUV
Price: $99,900 (plus on-roads), $111,850 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 190kW/560Nm 3.0 turbo diesel six | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.2 l/100km | tested: 9.5 l/100km
The X5 has been a consistent success for BMW since it launched here in 2000; last year it absolutely crushed its segment competitors in outright sales.
And now there’s an all-new X5 to enjoy. The F15-generation X5 rolled into Australian showrooms last November, and has upped the ante in cabin refinement, standard equipment and performance.
There’s also a new engine variant - the four-cylinder RWD X5 sDrive 25d and its AWD counterpart, the xDrive 25d.
For the immediate future, however, BMW expects that the xDrive30d will continue to be the most popular member of the X5 family.
And that’s why we’re in one.
A few weeks behind the wheel over the Christmas break allowed us to put the volume-selling X5 xDrive30d through the wringer more than once, and strewth, it came out very clean indeed.
Quality: BMW interiors are steadily getting better and better, and the new X5 is a prime example of this.
The dash design is more organic than the X5 of old, with smooth styling and a centre stack that bulges out towards the centre of the car.
The huge 10.25-inch LCD multi function display is like a big teutonic tombstone erupting from the dashtop, but it succeeds in not clashing with the softer shapes surrounding it.
Everything is screwed together tightly and the standard leather upholstery is flawless.
Some cabin plastics feel a little hard (namely the gearshift surround and the base of the B-pillars) and the front cupholders’ sliding cover feels a bit rickety, but otherwise this is a sumptuous interior.
Comfort: Our tester was fitted with the optional sports seats, and they were ideal. Both front seats are power adjustable (whether you get the sports seats or not), and the squab is also adjustable in length.
Coupled with the tall seating position and wide range of adjustment for both seat and steering column, the X5 affords the driver great comfort and outward vision.
The back seat cushioning is a lot flatter and not quite as comfortable, but there’s good under-thigh support and headroom and legroom aplenty.
The centre seat position is a little less comfy due to the firmness of the backrest/fold down armrest, but the face-level air vents and good outward visibility means three kids will be comfortable back there.
Equipment: The standard spec sheet has been pumped up for the new X5, with luxuries like a powered tailgate, head-up display, high-end sat nav, top-down parking camera view and bi-xenon headlamps all included in the 30d’s $99,900 retail price.
That’s in addition to the expected luxuries of a push-button starter, power-adjustable seats, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, Bluetooth audio and phone integration and USB audio input.
A panoramic glass sunroof ($3700), harman/kardon high-end sound system ($1500), the aforementioned sports seats ($1100), 20-inch alloys ($2800) and aluminium running boards ($850) were added.
And, in conjunction with the metallic paint option ($2000), our car came in with an as-tested retail price of $111,850.
Storage: The X5’s two-piece tailgate is great for those times when you just have a few bags to throw in the back, or when you’re backed into a tight carpark that would make a one-piece tailgate impractical.
It’s also reduces the chance of getting an uppercut when the tailgate opens, but the bottom-hinged lower section does make reaching deep into the boot a tougher task.
All up, the X5’s boot space offers 650 litres with the middle seatback in place. Drop the 40-20-40 split backrest down, and you have a grand total of 1870 litres.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The X5 xDrive30d gets its power from a 190kW 3.0 litre turbo diesel inline six, with a very strong 560Nm of torque.
It’s an increase of 10kW and 20Nm over the previous-gen 30d and motivates the two-tonne X5 with ease.
Especially so given it’s bolted to BMW’s ubiquitous 8-speed automatic, which is surely one of the best autos around.
Torque is strong down low, and the diesel barely raises a sweat up hills or when overtaking at highway speed.
It’s reasonably frugal for such a big car as well, with our tester averaging 9.5 l/100km over an even mix of city and country motoring.
That’s still pretty far from BMW’s claim of 6.2 l/100km, however.
Refinement: The diesel is not only silky-smooth, but quiet as well. There’s none of the rattle and clatter you usually associate with a diesel engine, and at idle it’s virtually silent from within the cabin.
The optional 20-inch tyres do transmit a bit of road roar into the cabin, though only on very coarse-chip surfaces.
Ride and Handling: The outgoing E70 X5 was a benchmark as far as SUV handling was concerned, and its replacement doesn’t disappoint.
With standard steel springs and non-adjustable dampers the 30d we tested had slightly sharper responses than the one we drove at the F15 X5’s local launch, primarily due to the lower-profile rubber on our tester’s 20-inch alloys (18s are standard-fit for the 30d).
It hooks in sharply and the sports-compound Dunlops grip well, with only a moderate amount of body roll.
The ride can be a bit fussy over small corrugations, but for the base suspension set up the 30d handles is weight well.
What isn’t so impressive though, is the steering feel - or lack thereof. There’s an inordinate amount of vagueness around centre with this new electrically-assisted system, and the wheel does little to convey any meaningful information to the driver’s fingertips.
It’s not a terribly big deal on the 30d, but those stumping up for the sportier 50i or M50d may find the steering tune disappointing.
Braking: No compaints about the brakes though, and that’s important given that the X5 weighs more than two tonnes before you put any people or cargo inside it.
The pedal is responsive and the wide tyres 275-section front tyres generate substantial stopping force.
ANCAP rating: The F15 BMW X5 has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Standard safety features include switchable traction control and stability control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, anti-whiplash headrests and six airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service costs: Servicing costs can vary due to BMW’s condition-based servicing system, however BMW offers set servicing schemes for new cars that limit the amount owners will need to spend on maintenance. Contact your local BMW dealer for pricing.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec ($101,045) - The ML’s interior is rather dull compared to the BMW’s fancier interior furniture, but its boot space is considerably larger and its 3.0 turbo diesel V6 has 60Nm more torque.
The BMW has the edge on handling though, with a better-sorted chassis than the Benz. The X5’s standard equipment list is also far more impressive. (see ML-Class reviews)
Range Rover Sport TDV6 SE ($102,800) - More expensive than the BMW by a few thousand, but the classy looks of the Rangie will have your neighbours thinking the price differential is wider than that.
With space for five and solid on-road handling, the Range Rover Sport is an enticing alternative to the X5 xDrive30d. (see Range Rover Sport reviews)
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI ($90,500) - With 180kW and 550Nm, the entry-level Q7 is the least muscle-bound of this lot. Then again, its substantially cheaper purchase price and roomy cabin compensate for this somewhat.
It’s getting a bit long in the tooth though, and the X5, ML and Rangie Sport are all fresher, more appealing designs - both inside and out. (see Q7 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Steering quibbles aside, the latest iteration of the BMW X5’s volume-selling diesel variant is a winner. It’s bound to kick sales goals for BMW Australia over the coming years, and it deserves to.
BMW Australia has got the specs right. The amount of standard equipment on offer is bound to win over many buyers, and it represents outstanding value against competitors like the Mercedes ML and Range Rover Sport.
It drives well (steering notwithstanding), is comfortable and enjoys a silky-smooth diesel with oodles of pulling power.
Drive it hard as we did, and it will still return average fuel economy below 10.0 l/100km.
There’s a reason why the X5 continues to dominate its category. It’s the perfect blend of performance, comfort, luxury and space, and with the new-generation 2014 model it’s also got a heaping helping of value-for-money too.
We thoroughly recommend it.
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