There’s no arguing that SUVs are the staple car of today’s family. Unlike the uninspiring whitegood sedans of yesteryear, SUVs have taken on a more individualistic approach – more styles, more luxuries, more options. And all of these appointments come at varying price points to suit nearly any buyer.
One SUV that continues to set the standard in the luxury SUV segment is BMW. Since debuting the X5 nineteen years ago, the German carmaker has continually set the benchmark for those looking to marry a touch of class with their family obligations. And their fourth generation model may just be the best version yet.
We got behind the wheel of the top-spec X5 M50d in Tasmania to discover what the future of luxury SUVs looks and drives like.
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
0-100kmh: 5.2 seconds
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel quad-turbo producing 294kW and 760Nm
Fuel consumption: 6.6L/100km
1. Its refined German SUV looks hide a host of new appointments…like laser beam lights and automatic reverse parking
The changes to the X5 come internally more than externally, but a quick glance at BMW’s kidney grille detailing and larger intakes will indicate that this is quite a beast in disguise. But more on the four(!) turbos in a moment. The latest technology forms the backbone of the 2019 X5 M50d which now comes with a self parking feature that is both highly intuitive and safe, if not a bit freaky. Stop it around the corner from a spare spot and the car remembers where the spot was as it proceeds to steer and park itself as the driver watches on via the centre console.
2. That centre console is beautifully integrated into the car’s sleek and futuristic new interior
Sure there’s mandatory slatherings of dark BMW grey, but it’s done so nicely that it almost looks like a peek into the future of SUVs. This is achieved with trapezoidal shapes, matte leather blending into satin-brushed aluminium and an insanely clean button layout.
3. Size matters in Germany…
Take a look at that wide screen. It’s there for more than just aesthetics and serves as a great companion to road trips and keeping you off dirt roads occupied by serial killers. The latest unit even adopts the cool gesture control feature in the 7 Series which allows drivers and passengers to set the volume by a simple Tom Cruise hand gesture. Because knobs were so 2011. On a serious note though, the absence of old school knobs and buttons makes the X5 interior a much nicer place to be in.
4. Speaking of smarts, the 2019 model uses brain power to be the safest X5 to date
A 5 star ANCAP rating and 7 airbags is just the start. The new X5 also comes equipped with Autonomous Emergency Braking, adaptive cruise, lane keeping, blind spot monitoring, side and rear cross traffic alert and 360 degree cameras which allows drivers to see obstacles around the car from a top view.
5. Intelligent laser beams are included
Not many noticed the aggressive headlights but we did. BMW’s latest laser headlight inclusion in the X5 M50d allows drivers to keep them on even with oncoming traffic. The beam deflects onto the road if it senses an oncoming car. Once the car passes the light spreads back into the full coverage.
6. Floating taillights that add a touch of TRON…
They’re standard LED taillights but manufacturers these days are constantly developing new 3D patterns to enhance the car’s lines. The rear taillights of the X5 M50d is a perfect example.
7. A diesel SUV engine that can make you smile
It’s not often that you can call an SUV ‘driver focused’ but with a beast of an engine up front powering all four wheels, the BMW X5 M50d is more than capable of delivering some mature thrills. You see, the six-cylinder engine has four turbo chargers bolted to it which allows ridiculous levels of power and torque – 294kW and 760Nm to be exact. And you can definitely feel it on the road too, shall there be an opening of the twisty black top. BMW claims the 0 – 100km/h sprint is dispatched in 5.2s (as a comparison, a manual Golf R can do the same in 5.1s). During our drive we found that the noise from the exhaust was mainly subdued to the outside. In SUV world that’s a good thing. Another good thing is the blessing of diesel fuel which affords an efficient fuel consumption of 6.6L/100km.
8. The crystal gear knob is nice, but probably a bad idea…
In 2019 you can’t do luxury unless you have a crystal gear selector in your car. Well BMW have gone one better by using bling across their gear knob, iDrive selector and engine start button too. It won’t be to every driver’s liking but we’re more worried about how it will look after some wear and tear – scratches, fingerprints will need to be attended to rather quickly. Case in point: we had to give the thing a few wipes before we could take a nice photo.
9. It scores highly in the versatility & drivability department
It’s a BMW at the end of the day so it has a reputation to uphold when it comes to road handling and refinement. Thankfully the X5 M50d earns these stripes with ease thanks to its adaptive suspension dampers which provide mountains of smooth riding whilst also being able to drop its ride height at the press of a button – this is more for assisting in loading the rear luggage than turning your X5 into a gangster whip. Run-flat tyres are also a plus in our books as is the roomy interior space.
10. Which leads us to our favourite part…the finely appointed cabin
Whether you’re seated in the front or the back, BMW have ensured that the experience exudes premium comforts. The use of soft-touch leather helps but we boil it down to the overall design which trades clutter for clean lines and ample head room, leg room and boot space.
If we really needed to criticise something about the interior, it would be the use of shiny black surfaces throughout which is a magnet to fingerprints and grubby hand residue. In other words, you’ll need to wipe regularly to maintain that luxe feel rather than the ‘I’m a stressed out parent’ feel.
If the 2019 X5 M50d is this capable in commuting and driving duties, we can’t wait to see what the ballistic X5M will be like.