motoring - The X Factor
Written by Karl Peskett
BMW’s original SUV, the X5, has been updated recently, and while it provides dependable transport with a solid build and plenty of room, there’s plenty more capability to be discovered.
A hidden quality of the BMW X5 – off-road ability – is one that most owners don’t know about. But it’s no soccer-mom car. The X5 is an immensely capable vehicle; it won’t faint at the sight of a pebble.
Staring across the sand, the man turns to his friend and points to the approaching car. “This’ll be interesting,” he says with a smile. But his mirth turns to incredulity as the car gets closer, churning up the sand. There was no way a BMW should have got through that. But it did.
Car-like handling on road, good ground-clearance off road, smooth styling, and excellent build are appealing qualities that have always been advanced features of the X5. So why update it? One word: efficiency. The scalloped design of the front bumper, small cut-outs behind the wheel arches, and tiny flaps before each wheel reduce drag, making the X5 around 17% more fuel-efficient across the range.
Turbochargers also help with efficiency, so the X5 M50d, for example, employs three turbochargers instead of the usual one or two. The set-up virtually eliminates turbo-lag but allows a 0–100kph sprint of just 5.3 seconds. Not bad for a spacious, luxury SUV.
The interior is beautifully built and the ride is excellent, even with the M suspension.
Easy-clean leather seats, superb traction control, a massive boot, roof-rails, and proper off-road ability – whether it’s camping in the desert or traversing mountains to a ski resort, the X5 is absolutely built for getting away from it all.
Like this car? Then also consider these:
Excellent space, a beautiful ride, and all-wheel drive make the ML a direct competitor to the X5. More focused on passenger comfort than driving enjoyment, the Mercedes is luxury transport at its best.
Range Rover Sport
With a superb interior and comfortable ride, you’d be excused for thinking that the Sport is just another SUV. But height-adjustable air suspension and Terrain Response off-road stability control show where its priorities lie: Range Rover’s bent is proper four-wheel-driving.