5 0 5
Plus & Minus
A genuine step forward from previous X5M, handling matches prodigious pace
Will eat tyres for breakfast, onboard nav issues are grating for $210k SUV
The Wheels Verdict: Sneer at the notion of a performance SUV all you like... people want them and people are buying them. This isn't a cynical exercise in bunging the M5 motor in an SUV, either; it's a cohesive, convincing, engaging and entertaining rig with a modicum of practicality and a hint of hoon about it.
WHAT IS THE BMW X5 M?
BMW’s original SUV turns the wick all the way up, thanks to a brace of go-fast bits built around Munich’s mighty twin-turbo V8 engine.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
Inbound for Australia this May, the X5 M – once considered a bit of an oddity – takes its spot amongst a growing roster of high-performance premium SUVs, and the combination of space and pace is a hard one for power-mad Aussies to resist.
BMW X5M REVIEW
“We like to call this section the roller coaster,” says our German host, pointing to a set of squiggles on a map. “We would say that this is the best place to try the car.”
The car in question is BMW’s mid-sized SUV bruiser, the thoroughly overhauled X5 M. Due in Australia in May, only the full-fruit Competition version will be offered, priced at $209,900. The X5 M will face down rivals like the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63, while Audi’s incoming RS Q7 will be bigger but no less fearsome. Throw in the usual suspects like the Porsche Cayenne, and there’s suddenly a glut of potent high-riders in the game.
Based on the 2018 CLAR-platformed X5, the X5 M scores BMW M’s 460kW/750Nm S63 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8, backed by a ZF eight-speed auto with adjustable shift feel and an M-fettled version of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive platform. This gives it a 70kW advantage over the previous king of the X5 hill, the M50i, while eschewing the 50i’s air suspension for steel springs all ’round.
It’s got big brakes – six-piston front calipers mated to huge alloy-hatted steel rotors up front – that nestle behind staggered 21-inch alloys, with 295mm wide tyres up front and 315mm boots out back, while an M Active diff nestles between the rear wheels.
Capable of a claimed 0-100km/h dash of 3.8 seconds, the 2385kg claimed unladen weight of our test machine is hampered by a solid 400kg of passengers and video gear, but the thrust peeling onto Arizona freeways gives credence to the claim.
A long freeway stint reveals a comfortable and reasonably roomy SUV. The driving position feels a little tall but the M-spec wheel is a chunky delight, but the z-pattern auto stick is frankly very irritating.
Tall rear-seaters struggle a little for knee room while the rear seat backs don’t recline much, but toe and headroom is adequate. A lack of rear USB ports in our US-spec tester is an annoying oversight, though, while the onboard nav is stubborn and uncooperative.
Upon finding the roller coaster, though, much is forgiven. A short, very sharp blast through kilometres of perfectly manicured, deeply cambered corners is both thrilling and surprising. The V8’s low-down response allows the X5M to punch hard on corner exit, while the huge brakes – adjustable for feel within the M Mode menu a la the M8 – wash speed off with aplomb. Steering feel is faithful if a little feathery, but the front end absolutely refuses to push wide. Its ride quality is surprisingly compliant, too, with the active anti-roll bars playing their part to keep a flat platform. We suspect it will eat tyres at a rapid rate, but out of the box, the X5M impresses dynamically.
Our rougher road surfaces may change the picture, but the BMW X5M has certainly stepped it up a number of notches. Dismiss it as a top-hat marketing gimmick at your peril – the X5M has the potential to claim some serious scalps.
Audi RS Q7 (when it arrives), Mercedes-AMG GLC 63, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Porsche Cayenne Turb
Model BMW X5 M Competition
Engine 4395cc 8cyl 90deg V, dohc, 32v, twin-turbo
Max power 460kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque 750Nm @ 1800-5800rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Weight 2385kg (estimated)
0-100km/h 3.8sec (claimed)
Economy 13L/100km (ECE)
Price $209,900 plus ORCs
On sale May 2020
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