BMW has taken the wraps off its new X5, promising that the fourth generation of its large SUV combines “the ability to venture off road” with a “talent for dynamic driving pleasure on it”.

The Bavarian automaker says new chassis systems such as two-axle air suspension, integral active steering and an off-road package make their debut on the fresh-faced X5.

The latest model’s wheelbase measures 2 975 mm, making it some 42 mm longer between the axles than its forebear. Overall, vehicle length increases 36 mm to 4 922 mm, while an extra 66 mm of width (now at 2 004 mm) and 19 mm of height (to 1 745 mm) afford the new X5 more cabin space.

The Munich-based brand says that the 40:20:40 split rear seat backrest increases the 645-litre boot capacity to a utility space of 1 860 litres. At a later stage, BMW says a third row of seats for two additional passengers will be offered as an option. Interestingly, the new BMW X5 also features a two-section tailgate.

At the vehicle’s global launch, there will be a choice of one V8 and three six-cylinder inline engines, all mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. However, only the oil-burning X5 M50d and X5 xDrive30d derivatives will be offered in South Africa.

The quad-turbo 3,0-litre diesel in the M50d churns out 294 kW at 4 400 r/min and 760 N.m between 2 000 and 3 000 r/min, completing the 0-100 km/h dash in a claimed 5,2 seconds before topping out at 250 km/h. The xDrive30d’s powerplant is the same capacity, but makes 195 kW at 4 000 r/min and 620 N.m from 2 000 to 2 500 r/min, hitting three figures in a claimed 6,5 seconds and running out of puff at 230 km/h.

For the record, the X5 xDrive50i that won’t be offered locally employs a 4,4-litre V8 petrol unit worth 340 kW and 650 N.m (for a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 4,7 seconds), while the xDrive40i develops 250 kW and 450 N.m from its 3,0-litre inline-six petrol engine.

BMW says the latest generation of its all-wheel-drive system is now able to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels “even more efficiently as the situation demands”. It furthermore offers a rear-biased set-up for “those occasions when the driver adopts a particularly dynamic style at the wheel”.

With the off-road package specified, a separate button gives drivers the choice of four driving modes, allowing them to alter settings for the vehicle’s ride height, the xDrive system, throttle response and transmission control, and the DSC system’s corrective inputs in preparation for driving on sand, rock, gravel or snow.

The new BMW Operating System 7,0 display and control concept, which makes its debut in this latest generation model, features customisable and personalised displays. It comprises an instrument cluster and a second display (both measuring 12,3 inches in diameter) that the driver can control using the steering wheel buttons, iDrive controller, touchscreen display, voice control or gesture control.

UPDATE: The BMW is expected to arrive in South Africa by the fourth quarter of this year.