Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bucket Seat: BMW X5 5.0i

The BMW X5 was the first SUV that went on sale from the German manufacturer, at the time, some might say it was a gamble taken by them since their forte was luxury and sports cars. The model proved to be quite successful and in turn saw a host of engine offered. The latest model was released last year, it's bigger, more powerful and much more clever than it's predecessor. Although it doesn't look bigger thanks to sleek designing from BMW, with a sloped roof line and rounded edges, trust me it is huge! Now lets be honest, the average BMW X5 owner doesn't buy one to go off road with, they're probably a successful individual (as they must be to able to afford one) that uses it more of a family car and to and from work, which is all good and well because if I'd bought one, the last place I'd take it is the bush.

So essentially it is a family SUV, well sort of, you see the model I got to test was the 5.0i xDrive which came with the M Sport kit, the colour was a dark navy blue and it came kitted with 20" rims. Take one look at it and the first thing that comes to mind is "Gangsta", once in the car you feel the need to recline the seat, wear your pants lower, rock a basket ball jacket and baseball cap while blasting hardcore gangster rap from the 16 speaker, 1200W, R38 900 Bang & Olufsen system, but more about that later.

Although it says 5.0i on the side, technically it is a 4.4 litre, 8 cylinder, twin turbo engine that is the heart of the beast. The power is apparent as soon as you start it, the tone of the exhaust is reminiscent to many other V8's and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand. With 650Nm of torque and 330Kw, it makes light work with hauling the almost 3 ton body around. In fact the acceleration of the X5 comes close to defying physics with a 0-100Km taking just 5.0 seconds! Reaching high speeds is effortless with this car, one can easily push the boundaries on highway driving without feeling nervous of losing control or the bulkiness of it all. The power steering is light and can be controlled with one hand but it's advisable to keep both hands on it at all times.

While enjoying the power is one thing, one cannot turn a blind eye to the consumption, having a claimed average of 10.4l/100km is not bad for car this size, try maintaining that as the most I could manage was 17.3l/100km. The beast is a thirsty bugger and it consumes the 85 litre tank in no time if you're enjoying the thrill of all 8 cylinders being pushed to the max.

The car comes with BMW's famous xDrive system which essentially is a fancy name for their 4 wheel drive system. It's pretty impressive too, like I was telling you early about having confidence at high speeds, the xDrive system has a lot to do with that. Working in conjunction with VSC, it varies the power transferred from the front and rear axle. Normally the split is 60:40 but with this, the car is able to transfer power to the wheels needing it the most. It is able to detect the road surfaces you're travelling and recognise which wheels are losing traction, therefore send more power to the ones that have a better grip and thus limiting the chances of a skid or getting stuck. The VSC also prevents wheel spins and the car from drifting, by applying brakes to the tyres that need them and controlling speeds of the rest, the vehicle will correct itself in a slide. Pretty darn clever if you ask me.

Safety is paramount with with all cars coming off the assembly line with each one having to undergo stringent testing to make sure the end user is buying a car that is safe and meets all the requirements by the safety governing body. They BMW X5 is loaded with key safety features as standard and some as extras. One of them being "Dynamic Light Spot". I was honestly blown away by this extra feature, the car comes fitted with a camera in front which is not part of the parking assist but to identify objects/ people/ animals on the road. When detected, a light that is in the headlight shines directly onto the foreign object. With the large amount of pedestrians that walk on SA's roads, especially at night, this feature helps a lot in bringing to the drivers attention of what lies ahead on the roads. 

Like all press cars this one came loaded with extras, the dynamic light spot as discussed previously being one of them and earlier I made mention to the B&O speaker system. Now R38 900 may sound exsessive for sound but not if you're indian, it doesn't come with big sub woofers that takes up boot space but rather a 16 speaker, professionally tuned system to give the driver and it's occupants unparralled clarity and definition in the music they're listening to. The center speaker in the front is quite awesome to watch as it rises from the dash board, almost space ship like. The interior also has mood lighting, where you can change the colour of the lights in the cabin with various options located in the menu of the on board computer.

Like I said in the beginning, the average buyer of this car wouldn't dare take it off the smooth tar surfaces but this was a test unit and I had to see how it handled it self in the bush. Much to my surprise the huge 20" rims handled the 20 kilometer dirt road with ease. Athough the M Sport comes with a stiff sportier suspension, the ride was reminisent to one floating on a cloud. Apart for the slight bumps here and there due to potholes on the track, the journey was smooth and quite delightful. The X5 made mince meat of any challenge the dirt road offered it and it was quite enjoyable for me the driver.

They say dynamite comes in small packages, well this isn't a small package and it is probably way more explosive than dynamite, so it's more like a weapon of mass destruction. It's size, it's presence, it's power are all indictive of what the car is and meant to be. Its luxurious, ruggered, sporty and yet includes everything that makes a BMW what it is. It takes some getting used to driving and parking in tight spaces but you will enjoy every minute of driving this vehicle. 

  • 4.4 litre, 8 cylinder twinscroll turbo charged engine
  • 8 speed automatic, step-tronic gear box
  • 330kW
  • 450bhp 
  • 650Nm torque
  • Consumption: 10.4ltr/ 100km
  • Top Speed: 250kph (limited)
  • 0-100kph: 5.0 seconds 
  • Price: R1 056 900 (excluding extras)
Special thanks to YuviK Photography

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