BMW on an evolutionary road with X5
The design might be evolutionary but BMW has packed the new X5 with comfort and technology, writes Michael Taylor
In a shock to nobody, BMW’s designers have taken a modest evolutionary path to deliver the next X5 SUV, which will arrive in SA in November.
Luckily, the engineers didn’t.
An all-new V8 engine will headline the upgrades for the fourth generation of BMW’s most consistent sales performer, and it will also be longer, wider and taller.
It will be stuffed full of new suspension technology, with a huge upgrade to the Off-Road Package to enhance its bush-bashing abilities. It will be bigger inside, with an optional third row of seats and push-button folding for the second row.
The engineers have added 42mm to its wheelbase, taking the space between the axles out to 2,975mm, while it has grown 19mm in height (to 1,745mm).
Critically, BMW has grown the X5 just 36mm in overall length, keeping it at 4,922mm and just beneath the critical 5m barrier. With the all-new X7 already seen out and about, BMW could afford to keep its X5 beneath the 5m barrier, which is so critical in some markets.
Just as critical for anybody with tight parking, its width has stretched beyond the 2m barrier, growing 66mm wider to 2,004mm. It feels more confident about making the X5 wider because for the first time there is an option to force the SUV to do most of the work to park itself, especially if it’s steering along a path it has recently driven. There is a suite of assistance systems to minimise the chances of bumps and scrapes, including surround view, top view, panorama view and remote 3D view.
BMW SA has no plans as yet to introduce the flagship new V8 engine though, which peaks at 340kW of power at 5,200r/min and holds that until 6,000 revs. It also punches out 650Nm of torque from 1,500-4,750r/min, so the spread of performance looks to be wide.
Straight-line stompers will find the xDrive 50i hurling itself to 100km/h in a claimed 4.7 seconds on its way to a limited 250km/h top speed. BMW claims it will gulp 11.6l/100km on the combined cycle, emitting 264g/km of CO2 — neither of which is remotely near the front-line pace these days, which gives a good indication of why BMW didn’t bother to make it available in Europe.
Instead, the petrol motors in BMW’s "home" market will be headlined by the xDrive 40i, with a 250kW version of its turbocharged in-line six cylinder motor beneath the bonnet.
The 2,998cc engine reaches its power peak at 5,500-6,500r/min, while delivering 450Nm of torque from 1,500-5,200r/min and hitting 100km/h in 5.5 seconds. Its economy numbers seem much more acceptable at 8.5l/100km and 193g/km for CO2, and it tops out at 243km/h.
It’s also the lightest X5, at 2,060kg, while the 2,286kg V8 version is heavier than the 50d.
The 40i will not be coming to SA initially either, but it might later so here we go with the models that we will be getting, both of which will be diesel. There will only be two diesel motors for the X5 at its launch in November, though others are expected to follow, including a 2.0l, four-cylinder unit.
The junior of the oil squashers will be the xDrive 30d, with 195kW of power at 4,000r/min and an impressive 620Nm of torque from 2,000r/min, from 2,993cc of engine capacity.
The six-cylinder diesel punches to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds and reaches up to 230km/h, but does it all with just 6.0l/100km in average consumption and 158g/km of CO2 (on the smallest 17-inch rubber).
The big-daddy diesel will be the xDrive 50d, with 294kW of power at 4,400 revs and 760Nm of torque, all thanks to using a squadron of three turbochargers, and it punches to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds.
Limited to 250km/h, the 50d has a claimed CO2 figure of only 179g/km and an average consumption claim of 6.8l/100km.
All the X5 engines push their drive out through eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmissions and use an intelligent, rear-biased all-wheel drive system, while the biggest wheel package is now 22 inches.
Its safety system now includes an emergency stopping system, which will brake the car automatically and steer it to the side of the road (using its blind-spot detection systems to find clear, safe gaps in the traffic) before coming to a stop with its hazard lights on and calling emergency services.
Underneath, controlling all the mass, there will be electronically controlled dampers as standard equipment for the first time, while the optional air suspension (now on both axles) will deliver 80mm of height range.
It will follow Audi’s Q7 with some of the hardware options, including integral active steering and active roll stabilisation (thanks to electronically operated antiroll bars).
It will retain the X5’s signature two-piece split tailgate, both of which can close automatically to secure the 645l of luggage capacity, or 1,860l with the 40:20:40 rear seats folded flat.
Besides the standard functions, there will be a range of new interior options, including four-zone climate control, a 23% larger panoramic glass roof and 10.2-inch rear-seat entertainment screens.
There’s also a new, optional Live Cockpit Professional dash system, which takes the iDrive concept even further with full digital instrumentation — you know, like you can get on a Volkswagen Polo — a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a bigger head-up display.
With 2-million sold around the world, the South Carolina-built X5 has become one of BMW’s most bankable contributors and the company will be expecting to see that continue with the latest generation.