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In 1999, BMW unveiled the X5, its first-ever venture into the world of Sports Utility Vehicles. Since then, and two generations of the X5 later, the BMW X line-up of SUVs which has spawned many popular vehicles from the Bavarian carmaker.
The X5 is branded by BMW as a Sports Activity Vehicle in a bid to emphasise its on-road ability and the X5 was built to be the sportiest SUV in its segment and was the first SUV among its German peers to use a sedan-like monocoque construction.
The first generation of the X5 SUV (E53) proved to be a big hit for BMW and in 2006 the second-gen X5 (E70) was revealed followed seven years later by the current X5(F15).
So, does the third-generation X5 deliver the same refined, opulent and sporty package that made BMW's first ever SUV a hit when it debuted 16 years ago. We took the latest X5 for a spin in the city and on the open tarmac to find out!
BMW's signature design features combine to lend the X5 an undeniable presence and distinctive appearance. But, looking at the new X5 it is clearly visible that the design is not an all-new one, instead, it looks like a buffed-up version of its predecessor.
BMW's signature kidney grille is flanked by twin circular LED headlights with integrated LED DRLs underneath which sit the front foglamps. Moreover, the nose is now a lot more prominent and with the tweaked bumper and distinct shoulder line, the new X5 now look more premium than ever.
The X5 also features drag-reducing air curtains. These vertical apertures guide the inflowing air around the wheel arches, where it creates a curtain of air over the wheels before making a controlled escape through the air breathers in the side panels.
The new X5 is now around 100kg lighter than the previous model. Despite being lighter the SUV is quite strong, thanks to the ultra-high-tensile steel used in the monocoque body shell.
At the rear, the car gets a set of updated LED taillights, a rear parking camera with sensors and the chrome X5 badging. Except for the taillight, there is hardly any difference that can be spotted when compared to the previous version of the SUV. Buyers can also get their X5 in one of the 8 paint job schemes that BMW has on offer.
Step inside the car and you are welcomed by luxury seats which feature Ivory White and Nappa Leather Upholstery. The electrically adjustable seats are really comfortable for long drives, thanks to the power lumbar support.
The rear seats can be specified either as an individual option or together with the standard third row of seats (optional). The X5 has a big split boot that can swallow 650 litres of luggage. Folding the second-row will increase the boot capacity to 1,870 litres! The tailgate is electrically operated and the opening height can also be set manually. Overall, the X5 offers a really luxurious and a spacious cabin.
An unlacquered section of wood runs across the dashboard and blends in neatly around the gear lever and along the door pads as well. The additional storage compartments and door pockets contribute to the car's impressive functionality both in day-to-day use and on longer journeys.
The ambient lighting designs included in the lighting package lend extra emphasis to the visual unity between the instrument panel and door panels. A choice of blue, white and orange lights can be selected either individually or in nine pre-stored combinations via the iDrive system.
The iDrive System also controls the interface of the high-definition 10.2-inch infotainment display. The Infotainment screen displays music information, navigation, real-time power and torque figures along with more options.
The screen is controlled by theiDrive controller which is placed to the left side of the gear lever. This placement may seem odd to some but the controller is quite easy to access. Additionally, a new-look remote control allows the infotainment display to be controlled by the rear passengers.
Standard equipment includes a brilliant-sounding 16-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, four-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, hill hold and assistand a centre armrest fitted with a chilled storage box. The X5 also gets a big panoramic sunroof which further accentuates the cabin space.
Powering the X5 is a 3-litre, inline-6 turbocharged, diesel engine which has a lot of grunt in it. In fact, there is enough power to shove you back in the seats from as little as 1700rpm all the way to the redline (5500rpm). The engine produces 255bhp of power and 560Nm of peak torque.
The XDrive system helps distribute the power to all the wheels intelligently. In most circumstances, 60 percent of the power is transmitted to the rear wheel which makes the X5 feel like more of a rear wheel drive vehicle. The X5 sprinted from 0 – 100 km/h in just 6.5 seconds under testing and maxed out at 230 km/h where the limiter kicked in.
The X5 is mated to a fast shifting eight-speed sports automatic transmission. The steering wheel mounted shift paddles, help in shifting gears easily while in manual mode. The car also comes with the new "launch control" function. Also present is ABS to ensure that driving like a loon doesn't get you in trouble when you hit the brakes.
The X5 has four driving modes to offer: EcoPro — gives excellent mileage but, there is a lag in the throttle response. Comfort —best to use while driving in the city. Sport and Sport+ — throttle response is very crisp and Sport+ mode also disengages the traction control system.
With 206mm of ground clearance, the X5 has some soft off-road skills. The Comfort Adaptive Suspension package helps improve the off-road skills further. The SUV comes fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels shod with chunky 255/55 tyres which help improve ride comfort.
The X5 does not feel like a 2 ton SUV except for its rather high seat height. The new electric steering is quick to respond and the car turns sharply into corners. The SUV took on the bumps and potholes encountered in the city with ease. Even though it's such a large SUV, manoeuvring the X5 through the traffic was not at all difficult.
The X5 delivered a mileage of 8.2 km/l in the city and 12.8 on the highway which combined with the large 80-litre fuel tank means that trips to fuel stations are not that frequent.
Promeet Ghosh Thinks!
The third-generation BMW X5 despite becoming more muscular, still lives up to the sporty DNA of the first X5 which debuted 16 years ago in 1999.
But, all of this comes with a premium price tag of Rs 74.3 lakh ex-showroom (Delhi). While, the comfort levels, especially on the second row, could have been slightly better, the X5 is still the best luxury SUV in this price range.