2023 BMW X5 facelift review: X5 marks the spot

    With a price now north of a crore, the X5 has moved up in the world, so is it still the sweet spot of the BMW SUV range?

    Published on Oct 27, 2023 08:00:00 AM


    Make : BMW
    Model : X5
    We Like
    • Superb diesel powertrain
    • Luxurious, feature-packed interior
    We Don't Like
    • Lumpy low-speed ride
    • Complicated infotainment UI

    Apart from being the pioneer of road-biased luxury SUVs, the BMW X5 has been a lot of things. It was the first BMW SUV, it was the flagship, it spawned a coupe counterpart and an insane M variant, and then it became the middle child. Now, it’s shifting positions again. This, of course, is because more and more SUVs keep joining the line-up – most of them lower down – and that has left the X5 with no choice but to move up. With this facelift, it now costs more than a crore in top-spec M Sport guise, so has the experience been upgraded to match? And just where in the range does it fit now?

    2023 BMW X5 colours and exterior design

    Where else to start when talking about a modern BMW than its grille, and while there are some deeply polarising snouts in the range, I don’t think this is one of them. It’s huge, yes, and it can even be lit up at night to show it off even more, but proportionate to this huge SUV’s body, it’s just right. 

    Hofmeister Kink that frames the D-pillar is now more of a Hofmeister curve.

    The new C-shaped LED Daytime Running Light signature is now a mere facsimile of BMW’s classic Corona Rings signature, but they do look cool set in the slim headlamp housings with their blue accents. Similarly, the Hofmeister Kink that frames the D-pillar is more of a Hofmeister curve, but again, it doesn’t look bad. As with many luxury vehicles, the colour palette is limited to mostly monotone colours – white, two blacks and two greys – but there is a Tanzanite Blue Metallic if you’re feeling adventurous.

    315-section rear tyres are massive.

    The M Sport trim gets very aggressive bumpers, and around the back, the tail-lamps have taken on a new three-dimensional shape, with indicator lights that ‘pulse’ when activated; swiping is so mainstream now. As before, the tyre sizes are staggered, front to back, with the rears having a supercar-rivalling 315-section width. But the bigger difference is that they’re now 21-inch wheels and tyres as standard, which could impact the ride, but they're aesthetically well suited to the X5.

    2023 BMW X5 interior, space and practicality

    For a mid-life facelift, it’s impressive how significantly BMW has redesigned the dashboard. The traditional hooded binnacle has been replaced by BMW’s curved dual-display unit – 12.3-inch gauge cluster and 14.9-inch touchscreen – that's mounted on the dash like a TV on a table.

    Traditional hooded binnacle has been replaced by BMW’s curved dual-display unit.

    The central AC vents seem to have been removed entirely, but they're actually hidden behind a piece of crystal-effect trim with illuminated ‘X5’ text on the passenger side; the outer AC vents remain, and are a new riff on the X5’s traditional ‘stacked’ design. However, though the new control stalks for these AC vents look cool, they feel oddly unintuitive to use, since you can barely see or feel the outcome of using them. The outer AC vents, meanwhile, feel downright flimsy.

    That, thankfully, is the only case of underwhelming build quality here, as the rest of the interior is superbly put together. Convincing open-pore wood, cool metallic trim and soft leather fit together seamlessly, but these traditional luxury elements do clash somewhat with the tech-heavy use of colours and screens.

    Outer AC vents feel flimsy.

    In an effort to visually declutter the cockpit, the AC controls have been removed and consigned to the touchscreen, while the gear lever has been reduced to a toggle switch. It does look neat, but adjusting something as simple as the fan speed is now a chore while driving.

    The ‘G05’ X5 is a big SUV and offers up a lot of cabin space. As before, BMW doesn’t offer the tiny fold-out third-row seats in India, but what you get instead is a cavernous 650-litre split-tailgate boot that also houses a spare tyre underneath.

    Even at its medium suspension height, it’s quite a step up into the X5’s cabin, and in the back seat, you’ll find plenty of space, particularly width. Set a bit higher than the ones up front, the rear seats are comfortable, if a bit upright with no backrest adjustment.

    Rear seats are comfortable, but get no backrest adjustment.

    In fact, owners might find themselves gravitating towards the front seats, which, in addition to their vast adjustment possibilities and plush cushioning, now also offer heating and ventilation. While you can opt for that high, SUV-typical seating position, in the X5, you’ll soon find yourself lowering it down for a more cocooned, sportier feel. Apart from the fact that the cabin wraps around the driver quite nicely, it has low window sills (and now a lower dashboard too), which means you don’t feel too hemmed in.

    2023 BMW X5 features and safety

    The X5 already had a long features list and that’s only expanded with this facelift. In addition to the aforementioned seat heating and cooling, there’s also a memory function for both front chairs. Several other features return, like a 360-degree camera and parking assist, but what’s new is BMW’s Drive Recorder function that lets the car autonomously reverse itself down a pre-recorded route, in case it’s too tricky to do so yourself.

    The gear lever has been reduced to a toggle switch.

    This M Sport version gets a heads-up display and air suspension that can be set to five different levels, the toggle switch for which is mercifully still on the centre console. The 16-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system is superb, you get soft-close doors, adaptive LED headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, and I love that you can open and close the powered tailgate from the key fob or even the driver’s seat.

    On the safety front, you get eight airbags and a whole host of electronic safety aids like ESC, TCS, hill descent control, cornering brake control and tyre pressure monitoring. And while there isn’t a full ADAS suite, you do get some active safety features like lane-keep assist, auto emergency braking and driver drowsiness detection.

    New dashboard is lower and improves forward visibility.

    While the new screens are superbly crisp and colourful, they’re not perfect. The driver’s display is an improvement on the last one, with a tachometer that’s easily readable this time, but its layout is still too cluttered with information, and is unconventional to the point of being distracting rather than instantly informative. The BMW OS 8 software that powers the touchscreen, meanwhile, feels like a step back from its predecessor, because aside from swallowing up way too many basic functions, it’s simply got too many icons and sub-menus, which can be annoying when you just want to execute a simple task.

    2023 BMW X5 mileage, engine, gearbox and performance

    BMW remains one of the few luxury brands to still offer diesel engines in 2023, and the 286hp, 650Nm 3.0-litre straight-six in this X5 xDrive30d flies the flag high. It’s uncharacteristically rev happy for a diesel, and enjoys being stretched to its redline, but it still has enough low-down and mid-range oomph to crawl through traffic or make quick overtakes. The best of both worlds, then. The downside of this is that you hear the engine’s grumble (not a bad sound, to be fair) more often than you’d expect, and some might want more relaxed responses from a luxury car.

    BMW remains one of the few luxury brands to still offer diesel engines in 2023.

    Both these can be solved by putting it in Eco Pro mode, which dulls things down considerably. But if you find yourself at the wheel, Comfort or Sport are the ones to go for. At its responsive best, this engine is incredible fun, and the 8-speed automatic adapts incredibly well to your driving situation. Fuel economy is rated at 12kpl on the ARAI test cycle, which, with a fuel tank capacity of 80 litres, translates to a range of over 900km.

    2023 BMW X5 ride and handling

    The X5’s handling is on par with full-on performance SUVs that cost twice or thrice as much. In Sport mode, there’s a tightness to the steering and body movements that belies its size, once again cementing it as a luxury SUV owners will want to drive themselves. Braking is strong too, but it’s here that the X5’s weight rears its head to a degree.. 

    Handling is on par with full-on performance SUVs that cost twice or thrice as much.
    Special credit must go to the air suspension that, literally and figuratively, does all the heavy lifting. In Sport mode, it lowers and firms up to deliver the aforementioned dynamics, while in Comfort, it gets really soft, doing its best to emulate the cloud-like float of its distant relative, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. However, even those springs cannot get around the huge wheels and tyres, which give the low-speed ride a lumpiness that detracts from the overall luxury experience. Over broken patches of road, they cause movement inside the cabin, and you’ll hear them as they do too.

    2023 BMW X5 price and verdict

    The X5 remains the BMW SUV that walks the fine line between luxury and driving dynamics.

    The updated X5 starts at Rs 94 lakh and Rs 96 lakh for the X Line petrol and diesel variants, respectively, going up to Rs 1.05 crore and Rs 1.07 crore for the M Sport variants. That’s a big price leap in a relatively short time, considering the pre-facelift version was launched at Rs 73 lakh-82 lakh just four years ago. Sure, rivals have moved up in price too, but luckily, the X5 feels like it’s been suitably upgraded as well. It remains the BMW SUV that most deftly walks the fine line between luxury and driving dynamics, and now there’s a load more tech thrown in as well. In fact, it’s safe to say that choosing the bigger X7 over this now only comes down to aesthetic preference, and if you really need that last row of seats. It might just be the most well-rounded BMW of them all.

    Tech Specs

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