This is the fourth-generation BMW X5, and it’s even more crucial for the Bavarian manufacturer than the new 3 Series -Motormouth is in Georgia, USA, to test the all-new 2019 model…
Against a wave of protest, when BMW cautiously trod into the unknown back in 1999 with the company’s first ever SUV, no one could anticipate the coming change. Today SUVs rule the world – BMW’s biggest factory isn’t in Bavaria, but in Georgia, US, where the Spartanburg plant churns out X3s, X4s, X5s, X6s, and soon X7s.
In the 1990s BMW was typified by one car, the 3 Series, as German as they came, and known throughout the world as the standard for sports saloons. Fast forward a couple of decades and BMW has now come to be symbolised by ‘X’ – the company’s top three selling cars last year were all SUVs. The 3 Series languishes in fourth.
So when a new X5 comes along, Bavaria holds its breath. This is the fourth generation model of a nameplate that has notched up two million sales in less than 20 years, and to think it was supposed to be a niche…
The new 2019 BMW X5 shares its basic underpinnings with the 7 Series and the X3, X4 and X6 (you get the idea, modular is in…), but compared to the predecessor model this one has a 42mm longer wheelbase, and comes in wider and taller. It’s a big ‘un, but this all translates into more head, shoulder and knee room.
The xDrive40i kicks off the new range, providing a rewarding drive with BMW’s familiar but updated 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine 450Nm of torque from just 1,500rpm, and 340 horsepower.
Both on-road and through the rocky and muddy mountainous terrain along the outskirts of Atlanta during our test drive, the SUV’s torque made light work of the slippery and steep conditions.
A plug-in hybrid option is also on the cards, though at the time of our drive, there was no news on whether it will be offered in the Middle East. The electrified BMW X5 xDrive45e iPerformance (that really is its full name) mates a six-cylinder engine with an electric motor to deliver 394 horsepower and 600Nm of torque.
For the first time, the X5 can be considered a proper, go-almost-anywhere off-roader as there’s now an off-road pack available. The range has been split into the xLine aimed at the adventurous outdoor types and the M-Sport, which stays true to the M badge by being a sports-focused, city alternative. The xLine features additional aluminium highlights in the now comically oversized kidney-shaped grille (wait until you see the X7…), along with roof rails and brushed alloy side window trim, while the M-Sport is differentiated by unique trim on the wheel arches and bumper and body-coloured side skirts.
The xLine features a button offering four driving modes for sand, rock, gravel or snow and alters the vehicle’s ride height, throttle response and the mapping from the eight-speed automatic transmission to suit.
Our off-roading consisted of muddy, steep hills with some side slip and the new X5 managed to nicely place enough power on the correct corner so as not to bury itself with wheel spin, while the increased ride height helped it over steep ruts. The hill decent control removed any fears on slippery downhill descents.
The package includes a clever new two-axle air suspension with ride height adjustment of up to 80mm, active four-wheel steering and active roll stabilisation which allows the front to operate independently from the rear.
In Sport mode the ride height drops by 20mm while the driver can also raise it up to 40mm to give it an impressive 540mm wading depth.
Inside, everything you see is new, with multifunction seats offering several massage modes, four-zone climate control, heated armrests and heated and cooled cup holders.
BMW Middle East couldn’t give Motormouth any specific prices as local distributors import fully-loaded examples, so don’t expect to get much below AED350,000.
Given the dramatic upgrade over the third generation, this will sell, and it needs to given it’s Bavaria’s bread and butter.
BMW X5 xDrive40i
3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six | eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive | 340 horsepower and 450Nm of torque | zero to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 243km/h | Price on application