BMW’s third-generation X5, now with 50mpg potential (w/VIDEO)

If you like the X3 then you’ll probably love BMW’s third-generation X5, if not you’ll be disappointed to find it’s lost its curvy side profile to be replaced with what BMW call “a dynamic wedge shape with taut surfaces”.

The new X5 goes on sale in the UK from 16 November 2013, where there will be six versions available – sDrive25d, xDrive25d, xDrive30d, xDrive40d, M50d and the range-topping xDrive50i. In the US market, where diesel engines are only just gaining popularity, they’ll receive the sDrive35i, xDrive35i and xDrive35d in addition to the xDrive50i.

You’ll notice the ‘sDrive’ nomenclature in that list, which signals the first time that an X5 model has been offered with rear-wheel drive. The difference it makes (for the 25d model) is a little under 3mpg, but it’s enough to tip the sDrive25d over the 50mpg mark, which seems an amazing achievement in the 12-years since the X5 was first launched. I remember owning an entry-level X5 3.0i Sport back in 2001 and it only managed 19mpg.

New BMW X5 (UK Model Range)

Model OTR Price
from
Power
Hp
Torque  
Nm
0 – 62mph Seconds Top
Speed Mph
Combined Mpg CO2
Emissions g/km
X5 sDrive25d £42,590** 218 450 tbc tbc 50.4** from 149**
X5 xDrive25d £44,895** 218 450 tbc tbc 47.9** from 155**
X5 xDrive30d £47,895 258 560 6.9 142 45.6 from 162
X5 xDrive40d £50,665** 313 630 tbc tbc 44.1** from 169**
X5 M50d £63,715 381 740 5.3 155* 42.2 from 177
X5 xDrive50i £63,920 449 650 5.0 155* 27.2 from 242

The most fuel-efficient X5 now delivers CO2 performance of just 149g/km, which to put in perspective is the same as an Audi A4 3.0 TDI. The range-topping xDrive50i gains the new twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine as fitted to the latest LCI 5 Series. Despite an extra 40bhp and 50Nm of torque, fuel consumption falls by 20 per cent (4.6mpg) and CO2 emissions have been cut by 50g/km compared with its predecessor.

In the UK, the X5 will be offered as a 7-seater and in two specifications – SE or M Sport. BMW is also offering two additional trim packages – Design Pure Experience and Design Pure Excellence – which bundle together a series of personalisation choices, the first to emphasise the X5’s robustness, while the second its elegance. They’re priced from £1,760 and £1,160 respectively.

BMW describe the new X5 as the lightest and most aerodynamic car in its class, but it’s no flyweight, the xDrive30d still weighs 2,145kg, some 270kg more than the equivalent X3 and just 5kg less than the outgoing model. Its 0.31 drag co-efficient (Cd) has been achieved due to active upper and lower air flaps in the front air intakes, air deflectors on the front wheel arches and a range of detailed improvements including Aero Curtains and Air Breathers, which ensure that air passes over the wheels with the minimum of disturbance, and Air Blades, which work with the rear spoiler to smooth airflow around the car.

Bigger and more luxurious

BMW’s aim with the new X5 has been to bridge the gap between the robustness of an SUV and the luxury feel of an executive saloon. X5s have in the past felt quite utilitarian, but with Range Rover bidding for outright luxury honours BMW have decided to elevate the X5 to follow suit.

The new car is bigger than ever, but not necessarily in the places you’d expect. As you can see below, the F10 X5 is 29mm longer than the E70 but 72mm narrower. It is 4mm lower, but sits on the same 2,933mm wheelbase. Front and rear tracks are both narrower than its predecessor, 18mm less at the front and a whopping 52mm at the rear, so despite the marketing-speak in BMW’s video (above) the new X5 will look taller and narrower than the car it replaces.

That’s a shame for those of us who love the X5’s tonka-toy looks, but perhaps a sign-of-the-times as SUVs seek to reduce their environmental impact (literally and visually).

BMW-X5-3rdGen_G20

BMW-X5-3rdGen_G21

It’s roomier inside, with 31mm more front headroom, 11mm from shoulder-room and 650 litres of luggage space (30 litres more than the E70). There’s now a maximum of 1,870 litres available with the rear seats folded, which is 120 litres more than before.

Returning to the X5 in its F15 guise is a split tailgate, which includes automatic operation of the upper section as standard and, now, remote control closing as well as opening.

xDrive now with Dynamic Performance Control (DPC)

BMW’s xDrive system itself now weighs 1.4kg less than before. It’s supported by a vast array of driver assistance features including Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control and an Automatic Differential Brake.

BMW offer four different suspension options on the new X5 – Adaptive Comfort suspension, Adaptive M suspension, Adaptive Dynamic suspension and Adaptive Professional suspension. The one to look out for is Adaptive Dynamic suspension, which provides the most sporting potential, while Adaptive Professional suspension offers the best of all worlds by combining the best bits of the Comfort and Dynamic packages.

The one bit of tech I love about the X6 is Dynamic Performance Control (DPC), it varies the distribution of torque between the rear wheels (torque vectoring) and makes a huge difference to the big SUVs agility and driveability. Previously it was only available on the X5 M50d, but now it’s on all xDrive models fitted with the Adaptive Dynamic suspension option. There’s even a 3D xDrive display in the central information screen giving real-time details of body roll and pitch, as well as a digital compass.

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  • BMW-X5-3rdGen_G12

Tech..

There’s a huge number of new features on the F15 X5 as befits its move upmarket, these include a 10.2 inch free-standing Control Display screen linked to the new iDrive Touch Controller and the climate control and ventilation displays now with black-panel technology.

The new Driving Assistant includes Lane Departure Warning and a pedestrian and collision warning system with braking function. While the Driving Assistant Plus package adds Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go and will include Traffic Jam Assistant later this year, which maintains the X5’s position in its lane at speeds of up to 25mph.

There’s the usual dynamic safety systems, plus Glare-free High-beam Assistant and BMW Night Vision which now detects not only pedestrians but also animals.

BMW Parking Assistant will be offered later this year, while there’s a new version of BMW Head-Up Display which includes speed limit information and overtaking restrictions.

The new X5 is a little lighter, a lot smarter and more fuel efficient than before, but it’s no longer the muscular brute that it once was.

Whether that’s a problem will depend on how you feel about its looks, but in designing a bigger X3, BMW might unwittingly have ended the X5’s reign as its most popular SUV.