The latest generation BMW X5 – 20 years on since the company first launched the Sports Activity Vehicle – bristles with technology, provides a supremely comfortable ride, is agile and, quite simply, ticks all the boxes relevant to its executive status but . . .!
Like the humans that occupy the interior, time moves on and the body undergoes natural and expected changes such as a gentle thickening around the tummy, or middle-aged spread, and the X5 has done just that but, like humans, can go a step too far and become, well, fat.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, and all road reviews are a mix of fact and subjective opinion – mine being the X5 has gained a couple of millimetres too much in height and width, losing the svelte look of its shapely predecessor.
The wheelbase is 42 mm longer than its predecessor’s (now 2 975 millimetres), there is a 36 mm increase in vehicle length (to 4 922 millimetres), with an extra 66 mm of width (now 2 004 millimetres) and a 19 mm increase in height (to 1 745 millimetres).
Shaving a few millimitres off the width and height would, I believe, give it a smoother outline that would enhance the body contours – without taking much away in terms of interior space.
The most striking feature of the front end is the large BMW kidney grille with single-piece surround. The new BMW X5 comes as standard with LED headlights, while BMW Laserlight with Adaptive LED Headlights can be specified as an option.
At the rear, too, all the lights feature LED technology. The three-dimensional design of their glass covers lends them a sculpted, technical edge. Diagonal accent lines give the rear a compact and brawny appearance.
Modern, clearly structured and elegant surfacing radiates a feeling of space inside the new BMW X5. The instrument panel is broken up by sweeping horizontal lines, which combine with electroplated trim elements to emphasize the width of the interior.
The raised seating position, driver-focused cockpit and new design and arrangement of the controls offer the person at the wheel the best possible view of proceedings.
As usual with BMW there are a host of options for buyers to consider in the quest to personalise their vehicle as much as possible.
The new BMW X5 comes as standard with 18-inch light-alloy wheels, the xLine model features its own 19-inch light-alloy wheels and M Sport brings 20-inch M light-alloy wheels in twin-spoke design. Further variants in 18-inch to 22-inch formats are available as options.
Other new features designed to maximise the feel-good factor and luxurious ambience on board the BMW X5 include the four-zone air-conditioning system and the panoramic glass roof, whose clear surface is 30% larger than on the outgoing car.
The Panorama glass roof Sky Lounge, generates a special and exclusive aura when darkness falls, with LED light spreading evenly across the glass surface to illuminate more than 15 000 graphic patterns and generate a display reminiscent of a starlit sky.
The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System has 20 speakers and 1 500-watt output and the optional Rear-seat entertainment Professional system comprises a pair of 10,2-inch full-HD touchscreen displays, a Blu-ray-compatible DVD player, two USB ports, an HDMI socket and two headphone jacks.
The system is part of the new display and control concept and allows those in the rear of the vehicle to select and operate entertainment functions. The rear-seat passengers can use both their own media sources and those available in the front compartment. A navigation map and BMW ConnectedDrive services can also be accessed in the rear seats.
Folding down the 40 : 20 : 40 split rear seat backrest increases boot capacity from 645 litres to a maximum 1 860 litres. The new BMW X5 also has a two-section tailgate for ease of loading.
The BMW X5 xDrive30d is powered by a straight-six diesel engine, with displacement of 3,0-litres and featuring a single turbo-charger with variable inlet geometry. The common-rail direct injection system, meanwhile, propels fuel into the combustion chambers at up to 2 500 bar.
Maximum output of 195 kW is reached at 4 000 r/min, while the 620 Nm of peak torque is available from 2 000 r/min – 2 500 r/min.
Capable of reaching the 100 km/h mark from rest in 6,5 seconds, the new X5 xDrive30d returned combined fuel consumption of 6,6 l/100 kilometres during my test cycle.
Managing that drive is an improved version of the 8-speed Steptronic transmission where a wider ratio spread and new control electronics help to increase the powertrain’s overall efficiency.
The latest generation of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is now able to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels with even greater precision and speed, as the situation demands. For added efficiency, full power can be directed to the rear wheels only in situations where all-wheel drive is surplus to requirements.
This engine is exceptionally responsive – especially in Sport mode – and the gearbox intuitive enough to thottle and brake inputs to offer the right gear at the right moment without any real need to use the paddle shifters, often making the change faster than human hands could muster.
Built on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, the X5 now comes as standard with the Dynamic Damper Control system, whose electronically controlled dampers sharpen the car’s handling dynamics at the same time as increasing ride and suspension comfort.
The driver can select Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering for more dynamic driving qualities or an Off-Road package, which is being offered here in a BMW X model for the first time.
The standard equipment of the new BMW X5 includes Cruise Control with braking function and the Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, which now also alerts the driver when cyclists are detected.
The optional Active Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go function is capable of braking the vehicle to a standstill and sending it on its way again automatically. For greater convenience in stop-start traffic, the period between stopping and automatically moving off has been extended to up to 30 seconds.
Available as an option, the Driving Assist Professional package comprises the Steering and lane control assistant as well as the Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection.
If the road markings are clear, the X5 will happily steer itself along the highway, keeping precisely to the centre of the lane – naturally, it remains up to the driver to remain vigilant and look for (and avoid) potholes and the like.
At the start I mentioned the X5 bristles with tech – and it does. Again, the level and actual fitment depends on final personal choice at the time of purchase.
However, Open Mobility Cloud, which allows the personal mobility assistant to interface the car with the customer’s digital devices takes it all to new levels.
For instance, the BMW Connected app can import appointments and addresses from the customer’s calendar entries straight into the navigation system to begin route guidance. The system also calculates the optimum departure time based on real-time traffic information and notifies the driver with a message on their smartphone.
As the vehicle is also linked up via the Open Mobility Cloud, it is able to access the calculated route directly when the navigation system starts up. In addition, BMW Connected automatically stores places the driver has visited regularly as well as personal mobility patterns.
The integration of Microsoft Office 365 turns the new BMW X5 into a mobile office. Users of a Business Essential or Business Premium account with Exchange function are able to safely access their email account from their car and easily manage appointments and contacts, so there is absolutely no need for them to use their smartphone while driving.
All information and data appear directly in the Control Display. Drivers can have emails read out to them and are able to use voice commands to dictate and send new messages while on the move. In addition, calendar appointments can be confirmed, cancelled or transferred straight to the navigation system, as can contact addresses.
There is so much in the way of standard and optional equipment that make the X5 truly special in addition to the way in which it handles, smooths out bumps and returns a pleasurable driving experience – just lose a few millimetres.