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BMW X5 30d First Drive Review

What is it?

Why will I buy it?

Spacious and comfortable, powerful diesel motor with sorted dynamics

Why will I avoid it?

Rather high asking price

BMW rightfully believes that its success with the X5 and the Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) segment, since 1999, has everything to do with the evolution of its latest X5, three generations later. This fourth-gen BMW X5 that you see in the pictures is all set to enjoy a glorious term. Why do we say that? We’ll have the answers soon.

There are few cars that intimidate you with sheer size, and the new X5 does just that. No wonder that the considerably larger dimensions of this iteration have evidently translated into a more spacious cabin. Into this, BMW has stuffed in an assortment of features, and a rather torquey diesel motor (read 620Nm!).

But before we spill the beans, let’s take a look at the exteriors. Of course, the styling points to the fact that you just can’t mistake this one for anything but a BMW. Interestingly, what keeps the bulk from looking exaggerated is the proportionate stance that’s genuinely commendable. The giant kidney grille flanked by those sharp headlamps, along with the sporty air-dams, cuts and creases, all make for a thorough executive treat.

Even in profile, the balanced posture is clearly discernible. A precise nose carried forward by a slender but angular silhouette, plus, just the right amount of glass-area. Likewise, those gorgeous 20-inch wheels tastefully fill the wheel-wells. As for the rear, the charming looks are courtesy of the snazzy and wide tail lamps, which end within close proximity to the centrally positioned BMW logo. Also, some intensely rugged appeal has been infused into the aesthetics through the chunky aluminium-finish bash-plate.

How is it on the inside?

Just a little climb, and you’re perched snuggly in the commanding seating position of the X5. One with a large glass area. This, with the large mirrors, greatly aid outward visibility which makes it so much easier to navigate through traffic. Being a gizmo freak, my favourite is surely the fully-digital instrument cluster. It is smartly designed, with a flowing affect, onto the wide touchscreen infotainment screen, like a solid slab of glass. The high resolution just pampers your senses, and all the functions are intuitive to use, even on the go. 

If you’re a fan of things that ‘bling’, the X5 attracts with a jewel-stone finish gear lever and glossy buttons around the gear lever. The latter though, can get tricky to read in bright sunlight. In terms of stowage, there’s generous space on the door pads, centre console, glove-box and inside the front centre arm rest too.

As for the front seats, the leather, premium cushioning and contours literally had me luxuriating in them. And the support is so good that, in contrast, your couch therapist would be cast in a poor light. Besides that, finding an impeccable driving position is easy thanks to every conceivable bit being electrically adjustable. Whether it is the headrest angle, lumbar, lateral support or thigh support - everything is at the touch of a button. 

Even the 40:20:40 rear bench is extremely comfortable, and what exemplifies this sense of space is the large panorama sunroof. There’s loads of headroom, shoulder room and knee-room, making it luxurious for two passengers. Now, although a middle passenger can be seated, the middle section’s firm cushioning will certainly make it far from ideal. At the same time, we would have loved some more thigh support, and there should have been an adjustable backrest.

In terms of storage for the rear section, there are deep door pads, a drop-down storage rack for your folders, a usable compartment in the centre console, and some more in the central armrest. Rear seat passengers can also treat themselves with the four-zone climate control, complete with vents on the centre-console, under the front seats, and the B-pillars! 

When it comes to the X5’s boot, it uses twin split-tailgates which electronically fling vertically open to showcase a large 650-litre enclosure. For starters, which space could swallow a weekend’s worth of luggage. Additionally, yank the levers on both ends of the boot, and the enclosure expands to 1870-litres! Meanwhile, loading is also made easier via the ride-height adjust button on the tailgate. 

In terms of features, the list is endless. But those that stand out are the BMW laserlights with adaptive function, soft-shutting doors, a 5-step ride height adjust, 12.3-inch fully digital instrument display and a 12.3-inch HD infotainment touchscreen with iDrive and 3D maps. Music lovers get a Harman Kardon 16 speaker surround system with wireless Apple CarPlay functionality. There’s also a 360-degree surround view, 4 zone climate control with rear vents on the centre console and pillars and a panorama sunroof. Safety equipment includes 6 airbags, ABS, attentiveness assist, cornering brake control and traction control. 

How does it drive?

Powering the 30d X5 is a 265bhp 3-litre six-cylinder BSVI diesel engine, which sounds rather adequate on paper. But the curious bit is the astounding 620Nm that’s generated from just 1500-2500rpm onwards! Performance should be terrific if these specs are anything to go by. As for the gearbox, an eight-speed steptronic automatic with paddle shifts does duty here.

As you fire up this diesel, the high levels of refinement and vibe-free nature immediately become apparent. This, combined with the superb insulation means it mostly silent, and can be heard only at higher revs. Better still, this motor makes getting on the go, and sprinting to any speeds, pretty effortless, despite the large dimensions.

So, there’s hardly any lag, and most importantly, barely any throttle input required for regular driving. BMW claims the 0-100kmph takes 6.5s, and we believe them. What also helps these figures is the eight-speed auto transmission that not only does a splendid job with timely shifts, but also in keeping shift-shocks to a minimum. This just bumps-up the overall driver’s experience. As with most BMWs, there are preset driving modes that help EcoPro, Comfort, Sport and Adaptive.

As the names suggest, ‘EcoPro’ tones down the motor’s response with frugality in mind, but the power delivery is mildly more alert in ‘Comfort’ mode. Nevertheless, both EcoPro and Comfort did not make the X5 feel like a dud, and there was more than enough performance on tap. Having said that, ‘Sport’ brought a devilish smile to my face with its instantaneous throttle responses, much as if the electronics were Bluetooth-ed to my brain. Also, the power delivery in Sport does not make it jerky in any way. Nice!

When it comes to ride, the BMW X5 has an adaptive air suspension that keeps the cabin well damped at any speed. It just smothered everything that we came across. Be it large potholes, sharp bumps or long undulations. And there’s hardly any suspension noise filtering into the cabin (even at the damping limit). If you thought the impressive ride quality made the X5 uninteresting around corners, you’re in for a shock. 

In Sport mode, the ride gets decidedly firmer which in-turn aids the well-judged steering. With just three turns from lock-to-lock, this steering is not only quick and progressive, but the impressive feedback just allows you to throw this large SUV around corners as if it were some road-hugging sedan. Roll is very well contained. It surely goes without saying that the combo of wide rubber (275-front/305-rear) wrapped around those large 20-inch alloys, and the xDrive (4WD with variable torque distribution) was clearly working its charm too.

Now, even if you wander off the beaten track, like we did to get the car shot, the X5’s all-wheel-drive system responds quickly to situations. We eventually had more traction at hand thanks to the automatic differential brakes/locks (ADB-X) and dynamic traction control (DTC). Besides that, whenever in doubt about going over a tricky obstacle, we just toggled the handy 5-position ride height toggle switch to bump up the ground clearance. 

Should I buy one?

There’s very little that doesn’t work for the X5. Other than its obvious non-reclining rear seat, and the fairly steep price of Rs 99.55 lakhs (On-Road Mumbai) for this fully loaded X5 30d xLine. But, what does work in the X5’s favour simply casts a shadow on the above aspects. For one, it has a seriously quick engine with light controls that is complimented by some refined dynamics, despite the heft. And then, there’s the large and spacious cabin with plenty of features, and the excellent visibility combined with the abundance of cameras (for every perceivable angle) which makes manoeuvring the X5 nothing short of a joy. Now, did I just say ‘Joy is BMW’?

Where does it fit in?

This fully loaded X5 30d xLine retails for Rs 99.55 lakhs (On-Road Mumbai). For 5-7 lakhs more though, you can even treat yourself to larger rivals such as the Audi Q7 or the Merc GLS. Or further still, even splurge on a petrol Porsche Macan.

Pictures: Kapil Angane

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BMW X5 Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 88.09 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 93.07 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 86.13 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 87.19 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 87.92 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 80.99 Lakhs onwards
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