A new era is about to begin with the third generation BMW X5. The question is however, can it maintain its number one position in an increasingly competitive segment? Since the introduction of the first generation X5 in 2000 here in Australia, journalists and owners alike have only managed to find a very small list of negatives in its element as a Luxury SUV for the road.
Since that introduction we’ve seen Mercedes-Benz increase their line up and Audi, Porsche and even Bentley and Lamborghini take a shot at this space. However even now the X5 has continued to prove why it is the king of the road in terms of overall performance, practicality, looks and price.
Since photos of the third generation X5 and information has circulated around the internet it seems that readers aren’t quite convinced. Even on our Facebook page the discussion was mixed. Why? Well we’ve gone through the press release and images and we’ve sorted the good and the bad for you below to see what it all about before we have a chance to drive one at launch.
There are some good, quite a few actually and it all has to do is with what is on the inside.
Firstly, the interior. Whilst evolutionary and not revolutionary, the interior does step up in the look and feel. There aren’t any drastic changes but the dash is now fully covered in leather which has been our favourite part of high-end luxury cars of late and given ‘lower’ level SUV’s including the Range Rover Evoque now have the option for a leather covered dash, it was really a matter of time before we saw it in the X5.
Cabin technology has been overhauled and now you’ll have so you’ll find a free-standing 10.25inch Control Display for the iDrive system, a touch controller with touch-sensitive surface, extended surface areas, Bang & Olufsen High End Surround Sound and comfort seats in the rear. Plus it is bigger in all aspects for the driver and passengers meaning more room for comfort.
Secondly, the engine variants have stayed the same as before but they have been improved from a performance point of view. At launch there will be a third generation of the V8 petrol engine in the X5 xDrive50i producing 330kW with a 10.5litres/100kms fuel economy, there’s a revised six-cylinder in-line diesel producing 190kW in the X5 xDrive30d with a 6.2litres/100km rating for fuel economy and the X5 M50d will have the tri-turbo six-cylinder in-line diesel producing 280kW of understated power with an astonishing 6.7litres/100kms fuel usage. To understand why the X5 M50d is so impressive with its fuel usage here are a few more specs to impress you: 0-100km/h in 5.3seconds, 740Nm of torque and an electronically limited speed of 250km/h!
The Bad (kinda):
The third generation X5 isn’t a revolutionary generation, BMW said it themselves that this generation is an evolutionary model. There wasn’t a rewrite on what they think a luxury SUV should be or giving a car of the future today. We know Mercedes-Benz is thinking like that with their latest SUV Concept car the GLA, but what is BMW doing to push the boundaries?
Sure there are some technologies appearing the X5 for the first time including the adaptive cruise control which will bring you to a stop and then take off again, but most of the technology we’re seeing is ‘current’ by European standards. It is almost as if they’ve gone ultra conservative on a car which demanded a presence. Take the E53 below from a listing on Carsales.com.au. It is a first generation car but would you think it? It still looks fantastic today and it also was the car that paved the way in introducing and refining what we call xDrive today and kick started a whole performance SUV market before there was one. So apart from really low fuel usage figures (which is great, don’t get us wrong) we would have loved to have seen something which blew us away, and this takes us onto the next part, the exterior styling.
Now this is an area of debate. The exterior styling of the third generation X5 is that which brings it into alignment of the current theme for BMW. A design theme which, in honesty, has taken a while to fall in love with. The F30 3-Series M Sport was what sold us on the styling. So we won’t go into detail or pass judgement just yet. However, we think that until we get our hands on the third generation X5 later this year/early 2014 you should let us know what you think of the exterior styling and whether you would put it in the good or the bad!