2014 BMW X5 Test Drive Review
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2014 BMW X5 Review

Car Tested: 2014 BMW X5 xDrive30d Design Pure Experience

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 87,50,350/-

The BMW X5 is a well engineered car which takes a massive step over the old model

SUVs are increasingly becoming popular the world over and the German three have always had big and brawny offerings to satisfy the hunger of people who want a well rounded full-sized SUV. BMW was among the first to attack this segment with the X5, which also happened to be its very first SUV ever. Rather than calling the X5 an SUV, BMW always chose to use the SAV acronym which translates to Sport Activity Vehicle, promoting the vehicle’s on-road performance along with off-road capability. Betting big on the car in India, BMW has gone the CKD route for the X5 which emphasises the importance of the vehicle in our market. The third generation of the BMW X5 is a vast step up over the model it replaces but is it as good as it looks?

Motor Quest: BMW first launched the X5 in 1999 with the second generation model arriving in 2006. In 2010, BMW launched an M version of the X5. The current generation X5 was unveiled last year and is manufactured at BMW’s South Carolina plant in the US.

2014 BMW X5 Review2014 BMW X5 Test Drive

The X5 boasts of signature BMW elements like the headlights and kidney grille, notice high positioning of foglamps

Exteriors – The design of the BMW X5 is an evolution from the previous generation model. The design elements are so striking and in-line with BMW SUVs that even from afar you can guess this is a BMW. Large dimensions with massive attention to detail give the X5 some serious appeal on the outside. It has a lot of street cred which makes it clearly identifiable on the road. The front sports a short overhang, muscular kidney grille and a nicely detailed bumper. The headlights merge into the grille giving a feeling of width to the front. One will quite appreciate the aerodynamic touches on the car, like for instance the vehicle gets drag reducing air curtains which are a first for a BMW X model. The CD is 0.31 and air reflectors on the front wheel arches help in boosting the aero efficiency of this vehicle.

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The side profile reveals the smooth flowing line which merges with the tail light

The lines flow upwards towards the rear, meeting the tail light, going through the door handles which have puddle lamps. The massive 21-inch wheels have an amazing design but they are optional and best avoided (for reasons we will mention later on in the review). The rear is highlighted by the L shaped tail lights which have become a common sight on all BMW cars today. A subtle rear spoiler and twin exhausts placed right in sight complete the visual appeal at the rear. The X5 also gets silver finished underbody protection plates resulting in reduced visual bulk. The chrome lining around the windows, blackened B and C pillars, small silver roof rails and a shark fin antenna further complete the macho appeal of this BMW SUV.

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Similar to other BMWs, the X5’s cabin has a beautifully layered design

Interiors – The dashboard is familiar BMW, sharing a lot of its elements with the 5-Series. Still the X5’s cabin has its own charm. Fit and finish is excellent as seen on all BMW cars and features are in abundance here (front and rear parking sensors which are oversensitive, rear camera, xenon lights with cornering function, cruise control with automatic braking, a fantastic sounding Harman Kardon 16-speaker audio system, etc). The attention to detail is spectacular too, like the interior lights which have two levels of intensity, the mood lightning which lifts the ambience of the cabin at night, the rear wiper which works at intermittent speeds and when you lower the driver seat the steering automatically moves upwards. The dashboard gets these beautiful lines which amplify the appeal even further. The two-tone dashboard has the lower half done up in beige while the top part uses black and in between there are silver lines flowing, with dark wood and piano black finishing completing the richness of the dash. While there are two AC vents in the centre, on the sides there are two each, one above another.

The BMW X5 has a very well appointed cabin with extremely comfortable seats and generous equipment levels

There are plenty of storage spaces inside the cabin, the door pockets are huge and can hold a 2-litre bottle with ease (the rear doors will hold a smaller bottle though). On the centre console, you get two cup holders and a coin box while another storage box is on the right, below the headlight controls. A sunglass holder near the centre rear view mirror and a decently sized glovebox further boost the storage capacity at the front. The door lock/unlock buttons are placed on the door which is different from other BMWs. The instrument cluster is the same one we have been seeing in BMW cars for years, classy, yes but BMW should have given their flagship SUV a LCD cluster with changing clusters in different modes, like seen on the recent 5-Series facelift.

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The iDrive controller is super slick, quality is excellent with good attention to detail

BMW has given the X5 an all new key which goes well with the car’s overall styling, the old keys seen on most BMWs feel a bit too plasticky. The iDrive system is slick and works flawlessly, it’s super quick and intuitive to use and there are abundant features here including handwriting recognition and BMW apps. The rotary knob has that definite click and everything works smoothly, right from the navigation to the telephone, this system is just thoroughly well engineered. There is also optional on-board WiFi, the car creating an in cabin hotspot so you are connected to the web always. Our favourite feature on the 10.25-inch display is the “Sport Displays” which has two analogue meters (horsepower and torque) showing how much is being used in real time.

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Rear seat has plenty of room but under-thigh support is a bit lacking

The seats of the BMW X5 have terrific levels of comfort, preventing you from getting tired even on the longest of drives, but there is no heating or cooling function. The 4-zone climate control works flawlessly well though. Stepping in the second row of seats, one will appreciate the good knee and legroom with headroom being ample too, only under thigh support being a bit lacking. Cabin lights are placed next to the doors because the car comes with a large panoramic sunroof and hence no lights in the centre for rear occupants. There are manual sun blinds for the second row and a centre arm rest which has two cup holders. There are pockets behind the front seats and three can easily sit at the rear as the cabin is wide, the floor is flat and there is a headrest in the middle but it’s just too hard. Two power outlets are available at the rear. You can slide the second row of seats front and back too.

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Last row of seats have absolutely no space for seating an adult, this is a 5-seater

Then there is the third row which isn’t for humans as the seats are too small, space lacking and legroom almost nil (adults will have their legs to their chin). Making matters worse is the poor under thigh support and the extremely small windows. Still BMW has optimistically gone ahead and given two headrests, a centre tray with two cup holders and a storage bin. Headroom is good though but unless you have a person with invisible legs, there is no point in even trying to venture into the last row of seats. With the second rear seats slid all the way back, the last row won’t fold flat but once you do fold the seats, you can push the second row all the way back.

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Boot opens in split format with space being generous when the third row of seats are folded down

With the third row up, boot space is quite limited but you are sure to put the third row down and accept the fact that the BMW X5 isn’t even a make do 7-seater. With the last row folded (one can also fold the second row in 40:20:40 split), the boot is generous, there is a storage box on the right and a storage net on the left. There are storage hooks on the side as a net can be placed there. A tray opens which has some storage along with the towing hook, there is no spare wheel. The boot itself opens in two parts, it’s a split tail gate and that definitely makes loading big things easy. There is a power socket in the last row as well. The boot has an electric function for closing but won’t close if the lower gate is open.

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The 3.0-litre six-pot mill churns out 258 HP and 580 Nm of peak output

Performance – BMW is offering the X5 with only one engine in India, the xDrive30d. This is propelled by a 3.0-litre in-line 6-cylinder diesel which churns out 258 horses and 560 Nm of twisting force. The engine is a gem, it has good grunt throughout the rev band which means you can amble around town without bothering about turbolag or cruise on the highways, making quick overtake manoeuvres by stretching the mill to the strong mid-range. It even redlines smoothly, the revs rising quickly without any resistance from the powerplant, it’s just one long surge and the X5 gains pace in a smooth manner but with urgency. The new X5 has reduced weight which makes it the lightest vehicle in its class, BMW has used ultra-high tensile steel in the body, aluminium in the hood, thermoplastics in the side panel and magnesium in the instrument cluster, helping the new X5 weigh 90 kgs less than the model it replaces.

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The X5 has slick performance, it accelerates smoothly and has a lot of grunt

The 2014 BMW X5 has sprightly performance, it lugs all that two tonne weight effortlessly

As always an issue with BMW diesels, the engine is quite vocal at idle and in the top-end although some might appreciate the motor’s sound, most won’t like it as the car otherwise has fantastic NVH. In-gear acceleration is good too and the transmission won’t upshift in Sport+ mode, redlining all the way to 5500 RPM. There are 4 modes, the other three being Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport, with upshifts happening at 4500 RPM, 4750 RPM and 5000 RPM respectively. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear with time taken to do the sprint being 6.9 seconds. In top gear, one can cruise at 100 km/hr with the tacho ticking in at just 1500 RPM. There is also a Coasting Function where in the X5 won’t apply engine braking between speeds of 50 to 160 km/hr while driving in Eco Pro mode.

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In Sport+ mode, the gearbox won’t upshift, redline comes in at 5500 RPM

The highlight of the powertrain is without doubt the fantastic 8-speed ZF gearbox. We have appreciated it a lot in other BMWs and the case is no different in the X5. This unit is smooth shifting, responds accurately to throttle inputs and like Aladin sitting inside the gearbox, it somehow manages to fulfil your wish of getting into the right cog at the right time, all the time. There are steering mounted paddles which are a joy to use but even the tiptronic function of the gear lever is fantastic to use. The mileage we got on our test was 7.5 km/l with a heavy foot and 100% AC use. In Eco Pro, the stop/start system is activated which helps to boost mileage. Even when you turn it off, it activates when ever you get into Eco Pro. There is also Brake Energy Regeneration and when you get into Eco Pro mode, the optional navigation system also tells you about routes which will help save more fuel, while also telling you when to ease of the accelerator in order to maximise fuel mileage.

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The X5 has good handling like other BMWs and is very sharp around corners

Driving Dynamics – The X5 takes a departure from other BMW’s in the dynamics department. Based on the 5-Series platform, the X5 doesn’t feel stiff like BMW’s are known for but the ridiculously low profile tyres on our test car do take a toll on the ride quality when you go on really bad roads. These 285/35/21 and 325/30/21 tyres are optional and the chances of damaging the rim on our bad roads are quite high. There is no space save either and it’s best to stick with the regular 18-inch wheels. The ride quality is good on Comfort mode, there is no thud on bad roads but the car becomes too harsh on Sport modes which becomes immediately apparent as soon as you switch the mode.

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Ride quality on the BMW X5 is good, with standard wheels, it will be even better

In Sport+ mode, the traction control switches off and the modes also alter the steering and suspension besides tweaking the engine and gearbox. The X5 comes with air suspension and electronic damper control, the rear suspension is also self levelling. Ground clearance isn’t as much as you would expect from an SUV and you can’t manually raise the ride height either, this does hamper off-roading although the X Drive system is more than up for the job to traverse any given path (it can send 100% power to either axle). The steering is well weighed but doesn’t get too heavy at high speeds and has a bit of slack in the centre at certain speeds, it isn’t as responsive as other BMWs. Handling is good but all that weight does result in some body roll when you aggressively push the X5 around corners. The SUV does remain glued to the road at high speeds and braking performance is excellent with speeds shedding in no time.

2014 BMW X5 Road Test
The BMW X5 comes with a load of safety equipment, it has got top safety ratings

Safety – The BMW X5 comes with a range of safety equipment including front and side airbags, ABS with Brake Assist, Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Attentiveness Assist, Fading Compensation, Brake Drying, etc. It has received a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP. As per (IIHS Insurance Institute For Highway Safety), the BMW X5 scored a Superior rating in Front Crash Prevention while its Crashworthiness was rated Good, which is the highest rating possible. The X5 sold in India is as loaded with safety equipment as the model sold globally.

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The 2014 BMW X5 is a stunning package which blends the best of most worlds

Verdict – The old BMW X5 never took off in India like the Audi Q7 did but the new model has a lot of promise riding on it. BMW has improved their flagship SUV in almost all areas which makes it a very compelling purchase for those who want a good driving experience, comfortable interiors with lots of equipment, practicality and off-road capability. The new X5 has excellent performance and boasts of a good balance between ride and handling. With BMW now locally assembling the car in India, it’s priced on par with rivals, making it a worthy contender for the German flagship SUV crown.

The BMW X5 is an engaging car to drive and has a punchy diesel mill powering it. With good looks, all-road abilities and a feature loaded yet comfortable cabin, the X5 makes for a good large SUV.

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Optional 21-inch wheels look super cool but aren’t worth upgrading to

What’s Cool

* Exterior presence
* Interior comfort
* Balanced dynamics

What’s Not So Cool

* Over sensitive parking sensors
* Strictly a 5-seater

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BMW’s flagship SUV is an exciting package, it is sure to attract high-end car buyers

2014 BMW X5 Specifications

* Engine: 2993cc, in-line 6, BMW TwinPower Turbo diesel
* Power: 258 PS @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 560 Nm @ 1500-3000 RPM
* Transmission: 8-speed auto
* 0-100 km/hr: 6.9 seconds
* Top Speed: 230 km/hr (Limited)
* Fuel Consumption: 7.5 km/l (City), 9 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Air Suspension, Self Levelling (Rear)
* Tyres: 255/55/18 Runflats
* Brakes: All Wheel Discs, ABS, BA, CBC
* Safety: 7 Airbags, ABS, CBC, DTC, DSC, HDC, etc.

2014 BMW X5 Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4886 mm X 1938 mm X 1762 mm
* Wheelbase: 2933 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1644/1650
* Turning Radius: 6.0-metres (est.)
* Ground clearance: 209 mm
* Boot Space: 650 litres, 1870 litres (with second row seats folded)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 85 litres
* Kerb Weight: 2145 kgs