VANCOUVER, CANADA – Some 14 years and 1,3 million sales after its introduction, the new BMW X5 is more of an evolution than a revolution, but is this enough to give it the edge in the densely populated premium SUV market?
Similar to BMW ‘s latest crop of models, the new X5’s styling is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Up front there’s less of a pronounced height difference between the wings and the bonnet, while the signature kidney grille and quad-lamp headlamps have been drawn out to give the car a wider façade.
As with many modern cars, the X5 manages to belie the fact that it’s larger than the model it replaces by the virtue of a more centrally compressed front and a tidier, more character line-dominated set of flanks that lend the vehicle a more taut, athletic appearance. Factor in a neat set of L-shaped, LED strip-studded brakelamps and you’d almost be forgiven for thinking there’s hint of blown-up X3 about it.
Again, there’s more of a massage than a metamorphosis going on here. The new model’s facia layout will receive a nod of recognition from those familiar with that of the outgoing model. We’re talking a more horizontally orientated facia with the lower section given the “black screen” (analogue controls crowned with floating digital readouts on a lower facia-spanning strip), the air vents no longer occupy a facia-top pod and move to the central facia strip while more ornate seat and door panels are offered according to trim level. BMW was vague regarding actual increases in cabin space, but it’s spacious both fore and aft, while luggage space has increased to 650 dm3.
Engine and drive
The 3,0-litre straight-six turbodiesel at the heart of the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive30d powerplant has undergone a series of revisions that see the power and torque outputs climb by 10 kW and 20 N.m (190 kW/560 N.m), while CO2 emissions has been pared down by 33 g/km from 195 g/km. Fuel consumption remains little changed at 6,2 litres/100 km.
It’s a responsive unit that meshes well with BMW’s new eight-speed transmission, which doesn’t hunt around for the right ratio.
The engine’s plentiful punch throughout the rev range made overtaking the Winnebagos slowly plying our route a doddle, while the powertrain stayed refined but still emitted that satisfying straight-six snarl under acceleration.
BMW makes no bones about admitting that the X5 remains a road-orientated offering, and to this end the new model is dynamic saloon-agile in twisty sections with a slightly nose-heavy feel when pitching into fast corners. That’s not to say that it’s completely averse to getting its tyres dirty; carefully driven, it can negotiate moderate off-road obstacles. The ride is also a road-biased affair with the suspension ably soaking up the bumps on tarmac but joggling its occupants around when rocks and gullies are the order of the day.
With the X5, BMW had a strong platform off which to launch the new model and that can be interpreted in different ways. Those encountering the car from cold will be suitably impressed by its impeccable build, tasteful styling and balanced dynamics. Others familiar with the previous car will note that the new model isn’t so much a quantum leap, but more a honing of it’s positive attributes. We’ll have to wait until its arrival here early next year to see on which side of the fence the CAR team will sit.
Engine: 3,0-litre, 6-cyl, turbodiesel
Power: 190 kW/4 000 r/min
Torque: 560 N.m/1 500-3 000 r/min
0-100 km/h: 6,9 secs
Top speed: 230 km/h
Fuel consumption: 6,2 L/100 km
CO2: 162 g/km
ETA: early 2014