X5 M50d is as fast as it is frugal
BMW’s quad-turbo diesel SUV offers fierce performance, though the 22-inch wheels are not made for offroading
This is the diesel-sipping M50d range-topping derivative of the new BMW X5. According to deep-rooted tastes, it isn’t the most driver focused of the lot, although everything about it hints at the contrary.
Unlike the previous M50d model, with the new version BMW has upped the ante and it receives a lot of upgrades. The powertrain is the pièce de résistance and BMW has extracted more performance and better efficiency out of the long-serving in-line six-cylinder engine that’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission.
Outputs are now 294kW/760Nm, up from the 280kW/740Nm of the previous version. This leads to a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.2sec compared to … well … err … 5.3sec of the old car. Top speed is now an improved 250km/h instead of 225km/h. Climb inside this X5 M50d and you’ll find a high-end mix of old- and new-school flamboyance of quilted leather, glass gear-lever and starter button alongside Artificial Intelligence, touch sensitive buttons and screen and voice and gesture controls.
The business SUV outlook is successfully implemented thanks to an incredible number of electronic features that list Skype and Microsoft preparedness among its competencies. Usability is also improved thanks to larger dimensions. It now has a 42mm longer wheelbase, which yields more leg room. The cavernous luggage area is rated at 645l with the rear seats upright and at 1860l when folded. Either way, a couple of golf bags will certainly fit in there without trouble.
On the road, and off the boil, it’s as smooth as premium ice cream despite our test unit perched on 22-inch alloys, exclusively available if you opt for the M Sport pack it was outfitted with.
The standard fitment alloys aren’t far off being preposterous either. They are 275/40 R21 in front and 315/35 R21 at the back, and these low-profiles aren’t made for offroading.
Although this X5 is now practically 5m long and weighs in the region of 2.2 tons, it’s not as cumbersome as you might expect; being surprisingly easy to place on narrow roads or to swivel around tight turns.
Unlike me, if you have the discipline to drive it in a civil manner then BMW reckons you’d return about 7.2l/100km. Spurred on by its appetisingly deep-throated timbre, I blew open the M Performance lid and managed to achieve 11.6l/100km which, as anyone with a G63 AMG will tell you, is pretty decent.
The new 3.0l straight-six is more potent. The quartet of turbos (one more than the previous M50d) spliced to it may have not entirely eliminated turbo lag but its 760Nm peak torque arrives as early as 2000rpm and the gearbox with its rapid changes ensures that it stays savage all the way up to higher speeds.
This gives the M50d no issues when accelerating off the line, overtaking or reeling in those distances. It has an unexpected envelope of dynamism and so it comes as a pleasant surprise when you discover its unflappable poise even on the curviest of roads.
As a package I have to say it’s quite persuasive against much of the opposition which when gauged from its sportiness, elegance and engine outputs identifies the Range Rover Sport TDV8 as the apt opponent.
If your pursuit is strictly for diesel engines in the premium SUV segment, know that the X5 M50d has the most exotic of the spectrum. It’s just as well finished as its peers, probably the better looking of them all, comparably spacious and sophisticated too.
It has driving autonomy if you option this to assist in everyday SUV driving. If a performance diesel doesn’t float your boat that’s okay too. There’s plenty more petrol alternatives from AMG, Porsche, Land Rover, Jeep and in fact from BMW with its V8 X5M alter ego.
But I bet you’d relish the peerless combination of enormous pace and low fuel eating habits of the quad-turbo X5 M50d instead. It’s a marvel par excellence.
Type: Quad turbo straight-six
Type: Eight-speed Steptronic
Top speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 5.2sec (as claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 7.2l/100km (as claimed) 11.6l/100km (as tested)
Emissions: 176 g/km
DSC, ABS, DTC, CBC, DBC, EBD, Dry Braking function, Brake Assist, Fading Compensation, Start-Off Assistant, xDrive, ADB-X, HDC, Dynamic Damper Control, driver, six airbags, electric windows, leather seats, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, bluetooth, navigation, panoramic sunroof, xenon headlights, high beam assist, LED daytime driving lights, rain sensor wipers, multi function steering wheel, keyless access, run flat tyres, rear park distance control.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: Five years/150,000km
Lease*: R32,020 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
BMW X5 M50d
Digital sophistication, roaring pace, fuel consumption
Nothing at all
Benchmark of Business SUV genre
****Value For Money
Range Rover Sport SDV8, 250kW/740Nm — R1, 985.200
Mercedes-Benz GLE 400d, 243kW/700Nm — R 1, 359.929