You will need a magnifying glass to spot the differences on this new X5. That’s because the only noticeable changes are the white ‘corona rings’ and the front bumper, which gets BMW ‘M’ car-like air intakes (actually only one side is an actual intake for the intercooler). You can discount the wheels and lower-profile tyres because there is a range to choose from, and you’ll need to switch the tail-lights on to see the additional detailing in them. Oh, and the headlights get new white LEDs. So, for all practical purposes, the new BMW X5 looks very much like the old X5 and there is some sense in that. For an SUV that still looks modern, there’s no sense in going for an expensive mid-life makeover, is there?
Step inside and the changes are as subtle. There’s a chunkier steering wheel but, strangely, the iDrive screen is smaller than the one in the pre-facelift version. Build quality is top-notch as always and the seats are really comfy; also, the clarity of the switch layout is nice. The only real criticism we could level at the cabin was we found the headlight switch to be tiny and very fiddly.
The big news is this X5 gets a stonker of an engine. The 408bhp, 4.4-litre, twin-turbo petrol V8 that’s in the X6 is here with the X5 xDrive50i. We’re waiting to test it.
For now, we have to make do with the more practical and completely impressive 3.0-litre diesel in-line six. It makes 10bhp more and 2kgm of torque over the old 3.0d and, by the sound of it, is a tad more refined than before. The engine’s prodigious 55kgm of torque arrives early in the rev range to make light work of the xDrive30d’s considerable 2150kg kerb weight, endowing it with excellent step-off, solid in-gear shove and a good turn of speed.
The 245bhp makes its way from the engine through a new eight-speed auto to all four wheels, and operates in a more decisive and intuitive nature than the old six-speed unit. This is noticeable especially on downshifts. Where the old ’box demanded you lift off the throttle and keep tugging the gearlever, this new ’box goes down cogs more readily when you ask for it. Those extra couple of cogs also maximise the 3.0d’s cruising potential.
We’ve always found the X5’s ride to be the best among its competition and this one, if anything, rides even better. There’s a nice absorbent way it takes our roads in its stride and crashes only through the sharper potholes. We did get a bit of bobbing over expansion joints but, otherwise, there was no reason to complain. And, you don’t have to worry – unlike a few recent BMWs, this still handles like you expect it to. It steers accurately, responds well and its body movements are tightly controlled. It really is as much of a hoot as you can expect a two-tonne vehicle to be.
At its most basic spec, BMW will charge you Rs 53 lakh for it, which is Rs 3 lakh less than the pre-facelift car. But basic in German terms means you get dual-zone climate control, a six-CD changer, cruise control, 12 speakers, powered seats, leather seats, a gazillion airbags, ESP, ABS, Hill Descent Control and the iDrive system. Whew!
Then there’s the long options list (some of which should be standard) which, if you tick all the options, can add a BMW 3 Series to the price. Nonetheless, what BMW has done is taken what we’ve always loved about the X5 and improved it subtly. What could be better?