The BMW X5 has now entered its fourth generation. There was a time, at least locally, when there were howls of protest that a big SUV capable of warp speeds was allowed on our roads. Well how times have changed since the turn of this century. I’ve just spent a week or so in the 2019 X5 xDrive40i and I can tell you we’ve come a long way since those early detractors.
What is it?
This is BMW’s most important SUV, the family BMW that of course occupies a segment that has seen monumental growth for years now. The xDrive40i sits just below the 30d model and is powered by a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine. There’s a V8 M model on the way, but for now the two models are the range toppers. xDrive translates to all-wheel drive and in this case our test X5 could seat five and was fitted with the M Sport package, as just about every BMW sold here seems to be anyway.
This is a refined high-quality European people mover that goes like the clappers, in fact it will shred your licence in just 5.2 seconds unless you’re on a freeway. It has lots of tricks up its sleeve such as Dynamic Damper Control, Integral Active Steering, Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and a host of sensors and cameras to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Behind the wheel
The X5 is big, you’re reminded of that every time you grab the inch think M Sport steering wheel. The interior is reasonably lavish, not space age like the path some Audi’s have taken recently, but definitely classy, sophisticated and well-crafted.
The instrument cluster is a fully digital affair and is joined by a crisp 12-3-inch centre touchscreen. I find it amusing the amount of ways you can perform the same task in not just the X5 but many European cars these days.
There are the steering wheel mounted buttons, the touchscreen itself, the iDrive Controller, voice control and even gesture control. The latter I must say is vastly improved these days, although you still look like a goose wiggling your index finger in circles to ramp up or down whatever source of entertainment you’re listening to.
The BMW Head-Up Display is massive covering an area on the windscreen that spans 7 x 3.5 inch of real estate. There’s no doubt from the driver’s seat you feel a tad superior to the poor sod in the Santa Fe sitting next to you at the lights.
The 40i model is bloody quick and better still it can maintain this talent when things get twisty, as they always tend to do when I’m driving. While the height and heft of the X5 will always tap you on the shoulder eventually, it’s mostly a physics defying all-wheel drive pseudo sports car on stilts. Even the twin-turbo in-line six will produce the odd fart out the back, especially when in Sports Plus mode.
The six-cylinder in-line petrol engine is hitched to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The outputs are 250kW at 5,500 – 6,500rpm and 450Nm of torque available between 1,500 – 5,200 rpm. If we were in Germany, I’ve no doubt it will hit the claimed top speed of 243km/h.
The BMW X5 xDrive40i does come with wireless Apple CarPlay as part of a subscription package, which is contentious at best. Android users miss out entirely however. There’s a 10-speaker hifi system and leather upholstery. It boasts Level 2 autonomous capability via a myriad of cameras, radars and sensors. The Pilot Assist program is one of the better ones, it’s far from hands-off driving but very handy for maintaining a centre line when taking on long stretches of highway driving.
Via the BMW Connected app you can check-in remotely on how much fuel is on board, pre-ventilate the car and lock or unlock the car. It also allows for this incredible 3D Remote View. Using the cameras, it takes a serious of pictures to render together what appears to be a bird’s-eye all-round view. It’s very cool, but essentially serves no purpose.
The word “from” is important when considering the price of any European car. The 40i is priced from $115,990. But the M Sport Package adds $4000, plus there’s a $9500 indulgence package and even an off-road package that whacks on another $7500. This sees underbody protection installed and even a mechanical diff lock. For better brakes and aero bits and pieces a Performance Package can be added for $5000, plus there’s also a $1900 comfort pack.
Fuel economy is rated at 8.2L/100km, I averaged north of 14L/100km. I suspect most will too which makes the diesel 30i that offers the same performance possibly worth a look.
The BMW X5 is a great SUV and it would want to be given the lavish price tag. The type of people who buy this kind of car probably don’t appreciate the sheer engineering excellence that lies beneath, or even extract even half the performance it offers. That’s fine with me, if you have pockets that deep why not just go for it anyway. It’s a 7.9 out of 10 from me.