By Dr Hanningtone Gaya
BMW X5 is available with seating for five as standard, although a third row of seats is available as an option.
BMW X5 rides in the all-powerful mid-size SUV and is mostly suited for both urban and countryside business or leisure drive, taking in all kinds of adventures in its stride.
Car journalists record that BMW’s foray into SUV commenced with the BMW X5 in 1999. Currently, the X5 is a compelling choice in its segment. All X5 derivatives offer impressive acceleration, a wealth of technology features, and a spacious, interior cabin.
The X5 competes in the mid-size SUV segment, with rivalry from Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz GLE. The current BMW X5 model available on the road continues with minimal changes beyond the arrival of an opulent Black Vermilion version of the xDrive40i, a well-appointed interior and a pleasurable driving experience in one handsome package.
The entry-level models are richly outfitted with modern technology and convenience features, not to mention silky-smooth inline-six-cylinder engine. Upgrading to the plug-in hybrid model gives the X5 the ability to drive solely on electric power for short trips while the optional twin-turbo V8 engine delivers seriously punchy acceleration for long hauls. It might not be as plush inside as its competitors, nor quite as athletic as the Cayenne from Porsche, but when compared to competitors such as the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the X5’s well-profoundness shines through.
The limited-edition Black Vermilion model is new to the line-up since 2022. This black-and-red beauty features unique styling cues as well as a host of high-end features such as Merino Black leather upholstery with red piping, a glass shift knob, a faux-suede headliner, a leather-covered dashboard, and a Harman/Kardon stereo system, to name a few. It’s based on the xDrive40i model.
In the new line-up, two new colours are available from 2022 – Sparkling Brown Metallic and Dravit Grey Metallic, and buyers can now order the fancy glass shift knob and control buttons as a standalone option.
The xDrive40i is the X5 to buy. With an impressive zero-to-100-kph time of below 5.0 seconds, it’s got sports-sedan acceleration, comes with all-wheel drive, and is a relative bargain in this pricey class.
The X5 is available in four trim levels. The sDrive40i has rear-wheel drive, while the xDrive40i, xDrive45e, and M50i include standard all-wheel drive. A high-performance X5 M is also available. The X5 is offered with one of three distinct powertrains, each associated with the above 4 main models. X5s wearing the sDrive40i or xDrive40i badge are powered by a 335-hp turbocharged inline-six. The plug-in hybrid xDrive45e comes with a turbocharged inline-six and an electric motor that combine for 389 horsepower. All three powertrains are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and none of them will leave drivers wanting for power in virtually any driving situation.
The recently enhanced X5’s ride and handling is a big improvement compared with the previous model, as is its steering, which feels more connected, direct and sporting in feel. Pitch the X5 into a fast corner, and it holds on reliably, rewarding the driver with a predictability that’s missing from the competition.
For both the first and second row, interior space is generous for adults. When fitted, X5’s optional third row is only suited for kids. Once nestled inside, occupants are treated to a cabin lined with high-quality materials, plenty of charging points for devices, and a myriad of luxury features.
Power-adjustable front seats with memory for the driver are standard. All models come with a power-adjustable steering column, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power rear lift-gate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and customizable ambient lighting. Massaging seats, remote start, soft-close doors, acoustic glass, a leather dashboard, and heated front armrests and steering wheel, all confirming the X5 a high-end luxury SUV.
The X5 has plenty of cargo space, with the rear seats in use, occupants can fit up to 11 carry-on suitcases behind the second row of seats. With the rear seats folded – an operation that can be done from either the side or the rear of the SUV, room for 26 cases is available.
Twin 12.3-inch displays add a contemporary look to the cockpit. One serves as a digital gauge display – an important feature among luxury automakers, and the other provides access to the infotainment system, which runs the latest version of BMW’s iDrive software. Occupants can control the system using a variety of methods, including gesture controls, which are less intuitive than touching the screen or using the centre-console-mounted rotary knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard.
Key safety features include standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, standard lane-departure warning and standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The basics in the X5 are right. The X5 is road competent, and most features and technology are as standard.
Driving an X5 comes with a certain image – you could just lean into it and go for the raucous M version, or try and appease onlookers with the eco-friendlier plug-in hybrid.
Whichever X5 you go for, they’re all superbly powered and great to steer. It is a good off-roading SUV too, which can’t be taken for granted in the mid-size luxury SUV segment.
Visit Inchcape Kenya’s BMW division at their Westlands showroom in Nairobi, Kenya and take a deeper dive into the versions of the X5 currently available.