IBIS Africa

There are important cars and then there are important cars, and in the world of automobiles it’s usually the biggest and best that are deemed to be the most important. With BMW’s X5 being just that for the company since its debut in 1999, it proved an industry game changer, transforming the X-range – as we now know today – by selling 2 200 000 units to date.

Automotive Refinisher was invited to the recent launch of the all-new BMW X5 late last year and the testing grounds were along the beautiful Garden Route’s incredible tar and dirt mountain passes. This made for some spectacular enjoyment of this all-new benchmark model.

An interesting ‘get-go’ from BMW was the manufacturer’s new off-road package for the latest X5. Having beefed up on meatier off-road (grabber) tyres and further off-roading features such as better underbody protection, two-axle air suspension and four additional drive modes to increase X5’s versatility.

There are two models available locally and both are diesel powered – with petrol derivatives to follow sometime this year. The new X5 xDrive30d is powered by the popular in-line, six-cylinder, diesel plant with a new quad-turbo strapped to it – the final drive transferred to the wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission. Factory performance figures from the three-litre diesel are 195kW/620Nm suggests you can go from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds at a claimed consumption of 6.8–6.0 litres/100km.

The all-new BMW X5 M50d tops the range with the same six-cylinder diesel quad-turbo and eight-speed Steptronic transmission with outputs of 294kW and 760Nm which will rocket you to 100km/h from standstill in 5.2 seconds with a claimed fuel consumption of 7.2 – 6.8 litres/100km.

The driving experience is again as smooth and solid as we have come to expect from the X5, with the engine and transmission working in buttery unison to deliver blistering performance. New on the BMW X5 M5.0d are the adaptive LED headlamps, a panoramic glass sunroof, M-Sport brakes, four-zone climate control, a heads-up display, gesture control and an M-Sport exhaust system as standard. The latest BMW tech and intelligence hone the BMW X5’s driving dynamics and safety and make for an all-out exhilarating experience.

The distinct new nose distinguishes the new X5 and has seen the kidney grille become one complete grille -including electric shutters that open and close vents for better aerodynamics. X-laser lights with blue elements are also a change in the new fourth generation X5.

The interior has been overhauled to better suit the driver with a raised seating position. The driver-focused cockpit, new ergonomic design and arrangement of the controls now offer the driver better visibility.

The new horizontal dash design is dominated with a large 12.3-inch screen equipped with the latest BMW Operating System 7.0, which is also seen in the new 8 Series.

Below the centre console the driver can select from two performance maps – for a more comfort-oriented or sportier driving style – using the Driving Experience Control switch. Standard specification for the new BMW X5 M50d includes model-specific kinematics and elasto-kinematics for the wheel suspension, individual spring and damper tuning, plus 22”  light-alloy wheels. This configuration increases the BMW  Performance model’s agility and steering precision and enables faster more dynamic cornering.

It is said that bigger is usually better, with the new X5’s dimensions growing slightly longer, wider and taller, this could well be true. Up until now it was the biggest X-offering up till now – until the new BMW X7 was announced last year which may proved to be a monstrous machine. My question is how much is big enough? Won’t it be too big and too complicated?

For me the all-new X5 is certainly big enough, with more than enough power you could ever want and more than enough space to consider a bowling alley fitted in the back! It’s the ultimate family car which will now take you just about everywhere – which is what it lacked in the past – but now thanks to the new off-road package it’s quite the accomplished vehicle. The X5 xDrive30d starts at R1 194 296 and the X5 M50d has a R1 502 582 ticket price.

Story and pics by Jay Groat