Bold X5 still (mostly) a gem
BMWs, as do Alfa Romeos, have something special about them… those individualistic and mostly delicate front grill designs in many respects date back some three-quarters of a century or so. Yes, they have changed, but the basic design and arrangement is basically still there, give-or-take some nuances.
However, the latest BMW X5 SUV has changed that with a rather heavy and pedantic frontal treatment that borders on the peculiar, which is a difficult and incorrect claim to make for almost any BMW design. Thankfully that X5 is longer, wider and higher, in some ways assists in suppressing the lofty nature of the frontal treatment.
It kinda tells you, ‘here I am’. But also in the way am uninvited guest you may not want to see right now does..
The knob nose apart, X5 remains a class act. Hop in and that classy cabin is flashy, but at least it is within reason inside, although the high gloss finishes on the dashboard in particular in sunny Gauteng created a distinct handicap via harsh reflective issues that made driving a trite treacherous.
Naturally, for what is basically in an off-road vehicle, x-Drive is a definite gain for the X5 offering all-wheel-drive that power betwixt the axles faster. Of course total torque output to the rear axle is also achievable, harking back to good old BMW rear-drive pleasure. Remember that?
AWD of course has its advantages and road holding is impressive for such a large vehicle and a highlight even with those ‘grippy’ off-road tyres on off-road packaged tester that proved a tad noisy on tarred surfaces. But then horses for courses – this one is built to satisfy those of you with an off-road yen kaan to explore this one’s mud-plugging abilities.
The 8-speed Steptronic auto box is a honey, with ultra-smooth gear changes that heighten the lust for lightning-quick acceleration takeoff with hardly any turbo-lag at all, even on a hot Jozi afternoon - X530d remains the performance benchmark in this neck of the woods as our test figures well attest.
That said, this car tries way too hard to drive you, which is unfortunate and those nannies can be a bit much for someone who prefers to drive themselves, which is something a BMW driver is supposed to do, right? Not only do they completely blunt the driving pleasure, but the lane-keep assist function that self-corrects the car's steering by nudging it back toward the centre of the road proved a no-no on such a technologically advanced vehicle as the X5 – it’s off-putting and suited more to smaller vehicles for inexperienced and inexperienced drivers.
An eye opener of note must be the enormous choice of optional equipment – this one has R328K worth of extras, which, for a first-timer, over say five days, you hardly get the know or opportunity to use or recall what they really all offer and achieve.
But as they say - with time, you do get to know the ropes. – Mario Lupini
Images – Mario Lupini
ROAD TESTED: BMW X5 xDrive 3.0d M
Engine: 195kW 620Nm 2993cc turbo diesel I6
Transmission: 8-speed Steptronic AWD
TESTED: 1500m ASL (150m ASL)
0-60km/h: 3.56 sec (2.44 sec)
0-100km/h: 7.89 sec (5.97 sec)
0-160km/h: 21.56 sec (17.61 sec)
400m: 15.7 sec @ 143km/h (14.0 @ 151)
80-120km/h: 5.68 sec (4.27 sec)
120-160km/h: 8.89 sec (6.92 sec)
Claimed VMax: 230km/h
Fuel: 8.2 l/100km
Warranty/Service 2y unl/5y100Kkm
LIST PRICE: R1.25M
Auto Bakkie Race has revised its Rating System to deliver a more versatile 1-10 score. Over the past few years, very few cars tested have ever scored less than 75% in our system and hardly any more than 95%. The ABR Rating works in a 1 to 10 system, where 1 represents a traditional score of 75% or less and 10 is 95% or more.
Auto Bakkie Race road tests all cars using state of the art Racelogic VBox test equipment, both at coastal altitude or at the Reef. All cars are tested starting at the same point on the same test road in all tests. Reef tests are differentiated by (1500m ASL). Where we have tested both sides, both sets of figures are published. Coastal acceleration data most often delivers quicker results die to the higher oxygen content of air at lower altitudes.