Traveling the gravel backroads of Tasmania in convoy with some of Australasia’s best automotive journalists can be a little intimidating. We were there to check out the sleek, sophisticated new offering from BMW – the new X5.
Not only beautiful on the inside, with a handmade crystal gear control and dial, giving the whole console a very ‘executive’ feel, lush colour schemes on the leather interior and spacious room for passengers, the first model I tried – the M50d – was also incredible to drive. It is pure power and raw thrust. Combined with 294kW and 760Nm of gut punching torque and priced at $177,900, its ability to go from 0-100 in 5.2 seconds had my heart going. Cornering was a breeze and as smooth as silk on acceleration. Driver assist has been improved, a new camera system is on board with great safety features, the 22-inch alloys and slightly lowered front end give it a great profile, but when it comes to this seamless 8-speed automatic, the experience really was in the drive.
Launceston has some great roads for a drive and my co driver, Tony Verdon, is an old hand automotive writer. Together we would try out all the driving aspects we could while at the same time trying to keep up with the lead vehicle. There are three versions, 30d, 40i and 50d and the X5 is a stunner of a vehicle in all three of its incarnations but the 50d had won my heart from the start. The car parking assistance features are the stuff of science fiction. Push a button and the car will reverse out of its park and to your original position; a feature not lost on someone who has a nightmare with supermarket shopping.
The grille fins close and open when needing heat or needing to release it, the control panel is refined, a lot of thought has gone into the new interactive control panel layout and there are improved sensors and an ‘autonomous’ backing system. Despite all the bells and whistles, it hasn’t lost the clean lines and minimalist interior, while the drive is as exhilarating as anything with 600Nm and above. The safety features are top of the line with what we’ve always come to expect from BMW. It’s a pleasure to drive and, by bringing forward many great features from previous models, with a mix of the new, it’s not lacking in any area.
Great for the boat, great for exploring back country alpine roads, great for picking the kids up from school and there’s still plenty of room and features to keep the drive interesting and enjoyable.