MOTOR doesn’t test many diesels, but then the new 2019 BMW X5 M50d isn’t just any old diesel.
With three litres, six cylinders and FOUR turbos, it’s the wildest oil burner since the crazy Audi Q7 V12 TDi. Having trialled three turbos on the previous-gen X5 M50d, BMW has decided more is, indeed, more and added a fourth, the net result being an impressive 294kW and 760Nm.
The quartet of snails is split evenly between low- and high-pressure units, the former and one of the latter working constantly, the fourth waking above 2500rpm. Conversely, full-throttle starts from standstill bypass the low-pressure turbos to provide maximum power, hauling the X5’s 2275kg to 100km/h in a claimed 5.2sec.
To be honest, the monster torque – at 1000rpm it’s already making 450Nm! – makes it feel quicker and its smooth roar certainly doesn’t sound like your neighbour’s Prado.
Nonetheless, the performance diesel is a curious creature. Even in this age of the ubiquitous turbocharger the diesel show is over just as a traditional petrol performance engine is waking up.
Imagine driving a Golf R, C63 or even an X5 M with the rev limiter set to 4500rpm and you might get some idea of the unconventional nature of the experience. Frequent use of the eight-speed auto is required to keep the revs in the 2000-4000rpm sweet spot, which comes and goes fairly quickly.
PCOTY 2019: M2 Competition takes second place!
It’s not particularly satisfying, but recompense is offered in the range the diesel engine offers. Despite its performance, the M50d is incredibly fuel efficient, even when driven hard, and the official fuel consumption figure of 6.8-7.2L/100km promises a distance of well over 1000km between service station stops. Equally satisfying, but more surprising, is the way the new X5 performs when the road deviates from a straight line.
Its size, weight and centre of gravity prevents it being a true thrill-machine, but there is a lot more fun to be had behind the wheel of this leviathan that you’d ever believe. Grip is plentiful courtesy of enormous Pirelli tyres – 275/35 front; 315/30 rear on 22-inch rims – and while the steering isn't particularly talkative, unlike the previous X5 it now at least feels like it’s actually connected to the front wheels.
The secret to the X5’s smile-factor, though, is its rear-biased xDrive setup. It transforms the M50d from just another fast-but-stable family hauler to something that offers real incentive for the enthusiastic driver.
Pin the nose and loosen the rear with the brakes, pick up the throttle progressively and the X5 will transition progressively from neutrality to a beautiful oversteer slide. It doesn’t feel completely natural, but it does bode well for the forthcoming X5 M.
Speaking of, rating the M50d is difficult as it’s one of those ‘halfway-house’ cars. The head says buy the 195kW/620Nm 30d, which offers all the practicality and handling acuity of its bigger brother for $40K less, while the heart says wait for the ballistic M version, which is almost guaranteed to share the M5’s 441kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8. On the other hand, if you do plenty of km and don’t fancy 20L/100km, the M50d offers arguably the best of both worlds.
Tested and rated on MOTOR car reviews
2019 BMW X5 M50d SPECS
Engine: 2993cc inline-6cyl diesel, DOHC, 24v, quad-turbo
Power: 294kW @ 4400rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 2000-3000rpm
0-100km/h: 5.2sec (claimed)