Motoring

BMW X5 more luxurious and capable than before

Mercedes-Benz might have perfected the luxury SUV segment since they launched the Mercedes-Benz ML back in 1997 but BMW added sportiness to the recipe when they launched the BMW X5.

Fast forward and the X5 has seen massive popularity the world over with around 2.2 million sales which makes it one of the brands most popular models. Now in its 7th generation, the BMW X5 has not only grown in overall size but has also been given a more luxurious feel on both the exterior and interior. I spent time with this newcomer to see if it is as good as they say it is. First things first, the X5 that arrived at the Autodealer office was fitted with the brands Off-Road package which sees the addition of under-body protection, General Grabber all-terrain tyres, clever off-road software as well as adaptive 2-axle air suspension which is mandatory if you want the off-road package. The system can raise the car by around 40mm. More on this later…

The looks

My test unit was finished in white and fitted with the M sport kit and the rough and ready tyres and black rims. Although many people have been complaining about the front grill being too large, I disagree; it is, in my opinion, the best looking offering within its segment.  It blends well with the luxurious and dominating character of the new X5, especially when you consider the fact that the car is larger, measuring in 36mm longer and 66mm wider and also 19mm higher than its predecessor. Most importantly it now features an increased wheelbase which has been stretched by 42mm to increase cabin space. The rear of the car is easily identifiable as a BMW X5 thanks to the upright, square design with new LED taillights. The rear tailgate retains its split function as before and is still able to open and close electronically which adds to the overall practical aspects of the car. Luggage space is said to be around 650-litres with the rear seats up.

The interior

Like the exterior, the interior has also been drastically enhanced thanks to the inclusion of the brand’s new design layout of the facia. The interior flow is not disrupted by buttons; instead just about all the controls for the car can be accessed via the infotainment screen. Although small, the climate control screen now neatly sits between the two centre air-vents while below the screen you will find the various climate control functions.

The 12.3-inch infotainment screen has been neatly integrated into the facia and flows into the digital instrument cluster screen. I found the “less is more” approach to work well within the new X5. My test unit came fitted with wood trim to fill in all the open space and I adored the overall look when contrasted against the dark brown leather. One of the most eye-catching elements can be found on the centre console in the region of the gear-lever, this is because the gear-lever itself is the aforementioned eye-catching item. There is no other way of explaining this but saying it how it is, the gear-lever looks like a piece of crystal with the X5 logo embossed inside. Most will say it is a bit over the top but I completely disagree, it looks good, especially when the same crystal-like design can be found on the rotary dial used to control the infotainment system.

The tech

Staying with the infotainment system, BMW has decided to update its operating system which sees a new look for the menus. I found it difficult to get to grips with the updated system and much prefer the previous system. That said though the car offers wireless Apple CarPlay functionality, BMW’s gesture control and a host of active and passive safety features including a very clever cruise control system that recognizes speed signs and automatically decreases or increases the cars speed depending on the specific speed zone.

The drive

The new BMW X5 30d features one of the best 3.0-litre turbo diesel engines on sale today with 195 kW and 620 N.m of torque. The engine is also relatively frugal as I discovered when I took the X5 on a little road trip out to Bella-Bella, averaging around 8.5l/100km which is hugely impressive. The X5 returned a very comfortable ride considering the off-road bias tyres and with all the semi-autonomous functions you do conclude that you are behind the wheel for legal reasons and not really because you have to be.

The X5 is pretty quick, thank-goodness for the speed limit zone warning, because you can get into big trouble with traffic officers if left unchecked but overtaking, is dealt with effortlessly. Now, what about that R30 500 off-road package? Well, I decided to take the X5 to an abandoned quarry to see if it can handle the rough stuff as I have heard stories of how the earlier generations of X5s would get stuck trying to climb a pavement in Sandton. This new one, however, with the off-road package and optional air suspension seems as if it wants to climb mountains after I have set the car to the most aggressive off-road setting using the drive select options which lets you choose between sand, mud and rocks amongst other things. The suspension was configured to its highest setting, the rear differential was locked and I continued to meander my way through the quarry with the big X5 idling up steep inclines and the down-hill assist function allowing me to crawl down the other side with absolutely no effort at all.

Verdict

I wouldn’t recommend heading off into deep Africa on a humanitarian mission with the X5 but if you want to do some mild off-roading in exceptional comfort with the latest tech keeping you safe then the X5 with the off-road package is difficult to beat. The X5, in general, is a tough one to beat and although the car and the extras are both very expensive you do get one of the best BMW’s for your money, in my opinion.

X5 xDrive30d xLine comes with 5-Year/100 000km motor plan and a 1-Year/Unlimited km warrantee and is priced as standard at R1 194 296

Likes

  • The styling
  • Interior quality
  • The powertrain

Dislikes

  • The pricing
  • Costly options
  • Updated infotainment software

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