Is The New BMW X5 Any Good?
April 7, 2014
For 2014, in a world where manufacturers claim bold updates with little more than a few stylistic tweaks, BMW has gone the other way with the new X5, by completely redesigning it, offering more interior room, revising the entire drivetrain options and changing most of the exterior panels.
Yet to the casual observer, it doesn’t look hugely different. As the previous model was a sales success so it was a matter of topping that without ruining the recipe.
It’s a handsome rig to be sure, but at first glance you might mistake it for an older X5 or even an X3. Overall size and weight are pretty much the same, effectively guaranteeing the X5’s capable handling and stability remain intact.
The second-row seat is now split in 40/20/40 sections, improving utility and of course it can still be loaded up with features to your heart’s content. While the X5 50i’s turbocharged V8 is still here and despite the badge indication otherwise, remains at 4.4-litre, not 5.0-litres, it now produces 450 horsepower at 5,500rpm and 650Nm of stump-pulling torque from just 2000rpm.
That’s good enough to drag it from zero to 100kmh in 5.0 seconds (maybe that’s what the badge really stands for) and on to an electronically governed top speed of 250kmh which is not far off the old X5 M’s times and pretty impressive when you consider that it’s family transport first and supercar second.
Even for a committed saloon and coupé guy like myself who revels in the road-hugging handling of a low-slung pocket rocket over the commanding, crows nest perch favoured by SUV owners, I was impressed with its handling prowess to the point where I’d say it’s one of the best handling mid-sizers on the road today.
Unlike many of its rivals, the X5 offers a secure, yet stable feeling when pushed which is also relatively nimble for such a large car and, dare I say it, even fun to drive.
Road and wind noise are pleasantly muted at highway pace but buyers looking for a cushy lounge chair ride may find it a bit firm. Inside, the extra room is noticeable, especially in the rear while the M Sport version we tested also included sport front seats and a sport steering wheel with shift paddles for the transmission.
At night, the interior gets a soft wash of neon blue that’s become the new corporate hue first seen on the i8 concept as it highlights the contours of the dash and provides a soft glow over the armrest buttons and door handle. It’s very relaxing on the eye and not distracting for the driver.
From the driver seat, you’re presented with classic BMW gauges and a large central display screen with crisp graphics. The iDrive interface works well for controlling and adjusting all of the X5’s infotainment and chassis systems and now includes a touchpad on the control knob for handwritten inputs.
AT A GLANCE
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
Trans: 8-speed automatic
Power: 450bhp at 5500rpm
Torque: 650Nm from 2000rpm
0-100kmh: 5.0 seconds
Top Speed: 250kmh (governed)
Price: from AED 375,000
The test car also featured the very handy heads-up display which reflects the vital information on the dash like speed and warning lights onto the windscreen and unlike some of its competitors, still works when wearing sunglasses as polaroid lenses often block out the vital information on most of these systems.
Passive safety items like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, a top-down camera system, lane departure warning, forward collision warning (including pedestrians) were also featured on the test car. Other X5 options include active steering, LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, automated parking assist, four-zone automatic climate control, rear window manual sunshades, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround- sound audio system or the even more expensive 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system, a rear-seat entertainment system and a night-vision camera system.
The option list is virtually endless. So the 2014 BMW X5 is kind of all things to all people and I’ve had to re-adjust my pre-conceived perceptions towards this style of vehicle because while I doubt I’d take one too far off-road, I can see the appeal of it keeping everyone in the family happy for most of the time.
[gallery link="none" ids="631,632,364,633,634,635"]