Ergonomically sound, packed with tech and furnished from quality materials, the X5's cabin feels special.
A luxurious cabin is pivotal for shoppers at this price point and the new X5 delivers quite well on that front. From the moment you get behind the wheel, the cabin feels elegantly put together with plenty of quality materials around. An unlacquered belt of wood runs across the facia and is neatly integrated around the gearlever and in the doorpads as well. Then there’s the crisp, high-definition 10.2-inch media interface that’s powered by BMW’s iDrive system, which is still the most intuitive to use. What’s especially useful is that the screen can be split in two, letting you customise the content on display. So you can choose to have your music information and navigation displayed together, or even real-time power and torque figures, which are fun to look at. Also, the screen is quite non-reflective and has superb clarity, as does the rear-view camera.
The pampering continues with an onboard LTE/3G WiFi hotspot and in-car Facebook and Twitter apps. There’s internet radio too! Standard equipment includes a brilliant-sounding Harman Kardon audio setup, four-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity (which is very easy to pair with) and cruise control. The iDrive controller now gets a convenient scratchpad which lets you scribble alphabets or numbers with your finger, for easier access to your phonebook and playlists. If anything, it teaches you to write with your left hand!
The large front seats offer great all-round support and are very comfortable, regardless of your build. But shorter drivers may find the instrument binnacle a bit too high even with the seat jacked up. Moving to the middle row, the 40:20:20 splitting seats are nicely cushioned and can be sufficiently reclined, but the squab itself feels a size too small, leading to limited thigh support. Knee room, however, is good and the flat floor means the middle occupant sits in reasonable comfort. What’s disappointing, though, is the third row – utility is limited strictly to children. The seats are half-size and even after sliding the second row forward, adults will find getting in or out neither easy nor very dignified.
So while this may technically be a seven-seater, the X5 is best used as a five-seater with the last row folded down, which makes room for a very accommodating 650 litres of baggage. The split tailgate is carried over from before, with the top-half being electrically operated; the extent to which it opens is adjustable too.