What is it?
Now into its fourth generation, BMW’s all-new X5 is Australia’s best-selling premium large SUV and the German car maker plans on keeping it that way. A majority of the volume is likely to come from the most affordable 30d and 40i variants but, until an X5 M comes along, the most potent and driver-focused option is this – the diesel-powered M50d.
Launch review: 2019 BMW X5 Review
How much is it?
As the flagship, the X5 M50d costs from $149,900 which is pricey for a large SUV but comes packed with kit. Among premium diesel rivals, it bumps gloves with the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d from $108,900 or, for a similar budget, you could have the V6 turbo petrol GLE43 AMG for $134,700.
If potent diesel power is your thing then you should certainly be looking at Audi’s SQ7 which costs $153,327 and brings a sophisticated V8 engine, while the Jaguar F-Pace 30d S is a compelling option in the luxury market from $101,795.
For the money, we would also recommend Porsche’s excellent Cayenne, but there’s no diesel in the current range to directly compete with the M50d.
Read next: 2019 BMW X5 reveal
Who is the BMW X5 M50d for?
Increasingly, Australian families are choosing large SUVs and dual-cab utes as the main family car and this model is targeting exactly that demographic with a little more cash to splash.
There are seven seats for the larger family, it offers a big (650L-1870L) boot and plenty of cabin space, lots of luxury and comfort features wrapped up in seriously handsome styling. Does that sound like a bit of you?
The X5 also has a number of all-terrain features including four-wheel drive but, with huge wheels wrapped in high-performance road tyres and lots of exposed paintwork, this particular version is perhaps not best suited to a family looking to stray too far from the beaten path.
Is the BMW X5 M50d easy to live with?
One of the first things that hits you soon after boarding the new X5 is just how large it is and how much it has grown over the outgoing model. The upside is a generous cabin with lots of light and space for all, but drivers not used to a similarly sized car might need a bit of time to get used to it – particularly if you are upgrading from the previous generation.
About town, the X5’s scale really becomes obvious although there are some very impressive parking assistance features that mitigate the problems associated with its measurements. There are more cameras around the perimeter of the X5 than a detention centre and the self-parking function is eerily effective if you choose to give up on manoeuvring altogether.
If however, a majority of your journeys involve freeway cruising and rural excursions, the BMW competes in a very luxurious and impressive class.
Read next: 2019 BMW X5 pricing and features
We took the M50d for a day out at the Portsea Polo and it quickly became apparent that a socialite gathering of wealth and fashion was the X5’s natural habitat. Parked among the Porsche Cayennes and Range Rovers, you might expect the BMW to feel a little out of place, but its massive wheels, stunning pearly white paint and head-turning details stood out among the more commonplace regulars.
If we happened to leave with a pony or two then the torquey engine and clever four-wheel drive system would have been perfect for a horse float too.
Speaking of horses …
How well does the BMW X5 M50d drive?
Until now, if you wanted to own something equipped with four, yes four, turbochargers, you would have had to call Bugatti, hand over about $3.5 million and then wait a few months. But now BMW is offering the experience for a fraction of the cost. Okay – they might not be bolted to a 6.0-litre W16 engine which is slotted into one of the world’s most exclusive supercars, but the result is still pretty spectacular.
Like the more affordable X5 30d, this version has a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel engine which, thanks to its quartet of turbos, finds a whopping 294kW and 760Nm – 99kW and 149Nm more than the 30d.
As you might expect, acceleration defies the X5’s size and weight, taking just 5.2 seconds to get from rest to 100km/h, says BMW. But thanks to the clever turbo arrangement, there is very little perceived delay before the full boost and power is liberated.
Whether it’s dragging a heavy trailer up a hill or simply embarrassing hot-hatches at the lights, BMW’s potent diesel engine is a formidable all-rounder, but despite its impressive honour roll, it still brags diesel efficiency. BMW claims 6.6L/100km and we managed a figure not far off that.
But the flagship X5 is not simply all brawn and no sophistication. Its quiet cruising manners and smooth ride enabled an opportunity to take in some of the cabin’s finer points.
A crystal gear selector with matching engine start button and iDrive scrolling wheel is definitely not to everyone’s taste, but it started to grow on us. Less divisive is the excellent interior design however.
Seats are upholstered in top-quality materials and carry typical BMW DNA for a driver-focused position. There’s also the gesture control that has cascaded down from the 7 Series where it began and allows the stereo volume and phone calls to be controlled with a simple hand movement. The system is basic at this stage but we can foresee a more sophisticated version on the horizon that will allow better features.
Read next: Meet the BMW X5 LeMans V12
Pricey doesn’t have to equal poor value and BMW’s X5 hero is as much substance as it is expense. A quad-turbocharged engine is always going to inflate the asking price but, if you can stretch to it, the drivetrain is almost worth the price tag in itself.
Add to that a package of beautiful design and quality, capped by practical touches throughout and the value of this big Beamer shines through.