The X5 is BMW’s pioneer Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) first introduced in 1999. The X5 is one of BMW’s success stories as more than 930,000 had been sold worldwide, including 318,000 units since the launch of the second generation E70 model in 2007. In Malaysia, the X5 is one of the more successful premium SAV in the market with 427 units sold since its introduction in 2007.
A new facelifted version of the X5 was recently launched here in Malaysia about 3 months ago. Overall there are no major changes to its external design but upon closer inspection, you will note some discreet modifications. At the front, there is daytime LED corona running lights, larger air inlets and fogs lights positioned closer to the centre. At the rear, L shaped rear lights are retained with narrower white reversing light banks and new tailpipes.
Some of the more notable enhancements include a new 3.0 litre petrol engine with improvements in horsepower and torque, a new 8 speed automatic transmission, a driver assist system comprising a rear view camera with Top View, Active Steering and new 19 inch light alloy wheels.
The SAV retains the crucial standard specs which include a variety of safety features, Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Cruise Control, Hill Descent Control, iDrive with Navigation System Professional and the all important xDrive system, which is BMW’s automated all-wheel drive system.
Being a large premium SAV, its external dimensions are significant but without appearing too oversized. Its width excluding the side mirrors is 1,650mm while its length is 4,857 mm. A wheelbase of 2,933mm enables it to accommodate 3 rows of passengers.
Getting in and out of the car is an art that requires some practice to be proficient as the vehicle’s ground clearance is quite high. To assist in gaining entry, there are aluminium running boards with rubber inserts on each side. The lack of a handle on the A plliar and having to decide which leg to step on the running board first, sometimes make the entry a tricky affair.
The sampled vehicle comes with the optional 3rd row seating, which allows an extra two additional seats. Gaining entry into these 3rd row seats is also a challenge as some effort is required to push the heavy 2nd row seats upwards. Space is limited hence the 3rd row seats are more suited to small adults or children for longer trips.
Once seated, the driver has a high and commanding view of the front. Rear views thorough the rear view mirror is constricted especially when there is an adult seating in the middle of the 2nd row seats or when the all the rear headrests are raised. Nevertheless the internals are well lilluminated once you slide open the electronically operated panorama glass roof. Built quality is of high standards but one area for improvement is to enclose some of the cables which are visible in gaps under the seats.
The all-round Nevada leather seats are firm, comfortable and offers good support. The design of the dashboard somewhat mirrors the 730Li where the main controls are arched towards the driver while the glovebox area is pushed forward for more legroom. The centre console is dominated by the 8.8 inch LCD display at the top, and the gearshift lever, iDrive controller and parking brake controls at the lower portion.
The new N55B30 powerplant is one of the highlights of this new X5 facelift. This is an in-line 6 cylinder petrol engine combining BMW’s Twin Power Turbo, High Precision Injection and Double VANOS technology. Max power is 225 kW/306 hp @ 5,800 rpm and max torque is 400 Nm @ 1,200 – 5,000 rpm. Its CO² emissions is stated at 236g/km.
The engine sounded ready to go on cold starts and is refined during idling. The presence of low end torque ensured smooth and generous power delivery in most situations. However, during the road test, there was a slight lag in response from a stop and go situation when the vehicle was in an inclined (upwards) position. Otherwise the engine is responsive with plenty of reserves that can be called upon.
One area that had me stumped was the relatively strong exhaust fumes emanating from its tailpipes which is unlike the other BMW petrol cars we have tested so far. I think more filtering is required in the exhaust system.
Another new feature is the 8 speed Steptronic automatic transmission which is now standard for the facelifted X5s. The gear ratios are now closer to each other enabling even more refined gearchanges. The extra gears helped optimize the rev range as we cruised 110km/h in the highway at a relatively low engine speed of around 1,700 to 1,800 rpm.
There are dual options for the parking brake. Both are operated via a separate switches on the centre console below the gearshift lever. The main one is the conventional parking brake while the other is the Auto H (Hold). The latter is a feature which prevents the car from rolling when you are engaged in the “D” position. Auto Hold is disengaged when you step on the brake pedal or when you step on the accelerator. It will engage automatically once the vehicle comes into a halt.
Average fuel consumption is stated as 10.1 litres per 100 km (combined) on a fuel tank capacity of 85 litres. The test drive was conducted mostly on town and highway runs with an almost full load of passengers (6 including the driver) and the vehicle returned a best reading of 14.8 liters per 100 km based on the on board computer (OBC). This was considered on the high side as we were expecting better figures. The rate of decline in the fuel tank indicator mirrored the OBC. Fuel consumption may have been even higher if not for the new engine, the extra gears and the other Efficient Dynamic features.
Handling is a strong point of this vehicle. With the Servotronic and Active Steering which varies the steering ratios and response of the power steering, the vehicle is easy to steer and control despite its relatively large dimensions. The sports leather steering wheel is of good rim size, accurate and well weighted.
I did not pushed the vehicle too hard during the test drive taking note of the higher centre of gravity and the full load of passengers. During a trip to the nearby beach resort, it rained heavily but the vehicle remained firmly in control with sufficient traction on all 4 wheels. It was not easy to tell when the xDrive kicked in and I wished that there was a manual override switch which I could activate the xDrive on the fly (See Errata Below). The Hill Descend Control works well and can be activated manually to enable the vehicle to take steep downhills gradients gradually without wearing out the brakes.
There was insufficient time for us to fully test the xDrive capabilities in off road conditions. The closest was a very short excursion on the sandy beach. All the time, the vehicle proved more than capable in this situation. A better test to assess its abilities will be to run the vehicle in a muddy and flooded road here in Malaysia after a heavy downpour.
Parking a vehicle of this size is a challenge due to the limited rear views from the driver’s side. Thankfully, the car is equipped with the Park Distance Control and the added feature of a rear view camera with Top View. The latter is an extension of the singular rear view camera with real time and all-round side and rear full colour views of the vehicle on the 8.8 inch LCD screen. This feature activates when you engage the reverse gear.
The tyres are 19 inch star spoke 334 runflat Continental tyres (255/50 R19) which provided satisfactory grip and acceptable road noise. The suspension set up struck a good balance between comfort and sporty (firm). Comfort levels are high and the car does not feel too soft or bouncy going over bumps and uneven road undulations.
On paper, boot space is stated at 620 – 1,750 liters which is quite generous and this is depending on whether the rear seats are folded down. Boot space is very limited if the 3rd row seats are used. The lower section of the boot can be open downwards enabling heavy objects to be rolled inwards for loading. To facilitate external cargo, the X5 is also equipped with roof rails.
For entertainment the X5 comes with a CD/Radio system with 12 loudspeakers. At the default setting, the CD sounded bright and required some manual enhancements on the sound dynamics. There is good stereo separation between the front speakers. Vocals from radio broadcasts are clear and the system is able to lock into radio stations easily.
With the latest enhancements and by keeping the vehicle at the forefront of BMW’s latest technological advances, the new facelifted BMW X5 is likely to maintain its dominance in the large premium SAV segment in Malaysia.
It came to my attention while browsing the net for more information that I stumbled upon a detailed press release by BMW Group on the latest X5. It looks like have I erred on my understanding of the workings of the xDrive. Based on the press release the xDrive is a permanent four wheel drive system, which if I understand correctly is a system that is always “On” the moment you drive the car. In normal driving situations the torque split is 40% to the front and 60% to the rear. The system anticipates any slip on the wheels and is able to vary the power distribution ratio. As there is no switch turn the xDrive off, an ”On” and ”Off” comparison could not be done and coupled with my lack of perception I can now understand why it was difficult for me to sense the workings of the xDrive system!
|Engine:||6-cylinder in-line petrol engine|
|Max Output:||225 kW (306 hp) / 5,800 rpm|
|Max Torque:||400 Nm / 1,200 – 5,000 rpm|
|Top Speed:||236 km/h|
|Acceleration 0-100km:||6.8 sec|
|Fuel Consumption:||10.1 ltr/100km (combined)|
Source: BMW Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized BMW dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!