BMW’s game-changing new tech
Exponentially better is the catchcry for BMW's new X5. It's a better drive, has much better kit and is seriously better value.
The volume-selling version, the xDrive 30d holds steady on price at $112,990 before on-road costs and adds the likes of adaptive LED headlamps, advanced parking and driving aids, sports front seats and gesture control as standard.
The quad-turbo M50d climbs by $5000 to $149,900 and adds laser headlamps, gesture control, more software aids, adaptive dampers and active cruise control with traffic sign recognition, which BMW says adds more than $11,000 to the value.
A handy feature standard across the range is a new memory reversing function. The car memorises the final 50m of forward travel and at the push of a button will back itself out of tight laneways and driveways, with the driver responsible for brake and accelerator control.
The X5 has been the best-selling large prestige SUV in Australia for more than a decade, with 55,000 examples finding homes since the 2001 launch. It has also overtaken the 3 Series as the band's single most important model, which makes the launch of the fourth-generation car a big deal.
BMW Australia CEO Vikram Pawah says the X5 is a key model but far from the only model.
"Our entire product line-up is going to change over the next two years … that is going to give us a really good thrust. No matter how soft the industry is, new models create traction," Pawah says.
This new X5 is also a bigger proposition: length is up by 36mm, width by 66mm and it rides 19mm higher. Most of that space has improved rear seat comfort - there's reasonable leg room and the standard panoramic sunroof doesn't impinge on headroom.
The cargo area is unchanged at 650L and all X5 variants will still tow up to 2700kg.
There is no shortage of options to personalise your X5. The 30d comes standard with an x-Line style pack but history shows more than 80 per cent of buyers will invest in the M Sport look, which upgrades the standard dampers to adaptive items, adding beefier brakes, revised steering wheel and alloy pedals for $4000.
A seven-seat option will be on sale next year for the 30d. Available only in combination with air suspension, it will cost $7600 for x-Line variants and $6000 for M Sport-equipped cars. Next year it will bring the 40i, a 3.0-litre twin-turbo (250kW/450Nm) priced from $115,990.
M50d owners will find their stock vehicle rolls on steel springs and specially tuned adaptive dampers as standard, though air suspension is a no-cost option. Default items include sports diff, anti-roll bars, four-wheel steering and massive brakes.
On the road
BMW's insistence on calling its soft-roaders "sports activity vehicles" is reflected in the firm ride on the 30d M Sport's steel springs and adaptive dampers.
Don't expect to be sipping tea in the rear seats when mobile, even with the drive mode in comfort. The ride isn't intrusive but will ripple rather than roll over small imperfections on the road.
In contrast, the M50d amps up the stiffness to the point it jolts over those same bumps, though it compensates by being all-but immune to body pitch and roll. It will tire as a daily driver, making the air suspension a logical choice - there wasn't an air-equipped M50d at launch to explore that logic.
In both, the engine is the most enjoyable feature, exhibiting only a touch of lag before the tacho climbs towards peak torque at 2000rpm.
Steering response has been sharpened and the eight-speed auto invariably finds the right gear at the right time. The combination makes the X5 an entertaining car to drive on Tasmania's twisting tarmac.
The clarity of the digital dash and head-up display is good and the overall drive experience is hugely competent, if not cosseting.
Price: Unchanged at $112,990 for 30d and up by $5000 to $149,900 for the M50d. BMW says there's about $10,000 of extra kit in both cars - decide for yourself whether the company has sharpened the pencil or was making a decent margin on the last model
Technology: Three windscreen mounted cameras improve the depth of view for traffic signs, pedestrians and cyclists, aided by 12 ultrasonic sensors and five radar sensors.
Performance: The 30d gains 5kW/60Nm, the M50d 14kW/20Nm, with 0-100km/h times down to 6.5 seconds and 5.2 seconds respectively.
Driving: On the M50d, standard four-wheel steering endows a sports sedan feel through the wheel. Default steel springs are firm on 30d; appreciably stiffer on the M50d.
Design: Massive chrome grille is the most visually imposing element, backed by horizontal fog lamps. A panoramic sunroof is standard and a pair of 12.3-inch digital displays dominates the cabin.
More tech and more attention to detail make the X5 a better beast in every regard.
BMW X5 XDrive30d
Warranty/servicing: 3 years/unlimited km, $1995 for 5 years/80,000km
Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl turbo diesel, 195kW/620Nm
Safety: 5 stars, AEB, adaptive cruise, active blind spot and lane keep assist