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The original 2015 BMW X5 defined the luxury SUV segment as a big car that could handle as well as a sporty saloon and so set itself up as the benchmark that all SUV’s in this segment should aspire to be. Now in its 3rd generation form and facing some extremely tough competition, has the 2015 BMW X5 still got what it takes to set the benchmark?
The 2015 BMW X5 has certainly grown in size which has thrown the sensual styling of the 2nd generation model a bit out of whack so you could argue that it isn’t quite as handsome as before. However all the X5 design cues are there such as short overhangs, upright pillars, a low sporty stance and the characteristic BMW grille which combine with aerodynamic style touches and character lines to emphasise the new 2015 BMW X5’s slick yet imposing profile. The standard remote opening tailgate opens two ways so that a hatch drops for easy loading into a bay that’s an extra 30ltrs more than before. The boot capacity is a full 650 litres (complete with hidden underfloor storage) which can be extended to a healthy 1870ltrs when you fold down the rear seats should you need it.
Where this car really stands out in terms of style is the cabin, which was already nicely plush before but has now gone up a level. You won’t be able to deny this cabin’s sheer class factor with high quality materials and immaculate attention to detail. The low slung seating position emphasises its sporty, road bound appeal that makes you feel fully in control. The 10.2” touchscreen dominates the dash, housing BMW’s clever iDrive control system and all other infotainment options.
There is actually a fine divide between functions that have been integrated into the control system and the buttons that are cleanly spread around the cabin of the 2015 BMW X5. Popping into the back area, you’ll be able to notice how the extended wheelbase has given it a lot more room for passengers. The head, shoulder and legroom are all good and the space generally feels nice and airy due to upright glazing. This is even more so if you specify it with the glassy sunroof installed. The optional reclining seats are well worth investing in also as it really enhances passenger refinement. There is an option for a BMW X5 7 seater but it’s definitely a space more suited to children. Still they fold flat into the floor when not in use and gives it that extra flexibility should you need it which is always great for peace of mind. It depends on your priorities.
Driving a BMW X5 has always been a good experience, especially back in the day when it rocked the motoring world with its physics defying dynamics and well engineered approach. That certainly isn’t different with the new 2015 BMW X5. At 2.2 tonnes in weight and 1.8 metres in height, it still boggles the mind just how much it doesn’t feel like an SUV behind the wheel. The body roll is amazingly handled for its bulk and the low centre of gravity makes it agile around the corners, aided by the automatic differential brake system which micro brakes to counter any under or over steer, leaving it powering through the bends. The steering is very accurate but a bit vague in feeling, although it can be sharpened further through opting for the active steering setup.
Speaking of the technology on offer, speccing this car for on-roading can be addictive and very fulfilling, with plenty of lovely optionals such as dynamic performance control, self-levelling rear air suspension, variable damper control and active roll stabilisation improving the prowess of the 2015 BMW X5. You can definitely build a very capable vehicle for yourself. That being said, the drive performance control comes as standard, allowing you to alter the steering feel, throttle response and gear change timings according to the mode you select – Sport, Sport +, Comfort and Eco. Not that they need any explanation. The only thing this marvellous bit of kit could do with is an auto function which automatically adapts to the kind of terrain you are on when you yourself are uncertain which would be best. A niggle perhaps. In general the 2015 BMW X5 is a very polished and capable thing to drive.
It is definitely more suited to on-road endeavours rather than off, though that’s not to say its off-road prowess is anything to be sniggered at. There are a number of good off-road control systems that ensure that the 2015 BMW X5 is generally as capable as it needs to be on rougher terrain, although the tarmac bias of the tyres and the somewhat limited ground clearance will stop you being too adventurous with this. However travelling over the Serengeti isn’t usually a priority with the owner of this kind of car.
Under the (extended) bonnet, the engine is low slung to prioritise on-road driving and every variant comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission setup. There are a number of engine choices starting from the entry model – a 218bhp 2.0ltr 4 cylinder sdrive 25d which is pretty spirited for the entry model (0-62mph in 8.2/top speed of 137mph) but most interestingly, is available in 2WD – something unheard of. There is the option of 4WD should you want it, but the 2WD option makes for a more financially attainable BMW X5. Another interesting model is the X5 eDrive plug in hybrid with a 241bhp 2.0ltr petrol engine combined with a 94bhp electric motor. On electric alone it can reach 18 miles and is available with 4WD. Moving onto the more conventional engines – there is the popular 258bhp xDrive 30d unit (62mph in under 7 seconds/top speed of 147mph) and the 40d model that brings it up to 313bhp (5.3secs/155mph). Then there is the speedy petrol variant – the 449bhp V8 xDrive 5Oi which can reach 62 in 5 seconds but is more of a niche choice for buyers in this segment.
A BMW range wouldn’t be complete without an M model – here we have the beasty M50 which boasts a 3.0ltr triple turbocharged diesel engine with an output of 381bhp and an astounding amount of torque – 740Nm to be exact. Putting this in perspective, the Lamborghini Aventador can muster a maximum of 690Nm!! This gives the BMW M50 the ability to hit 62mph in 5.3 seconds up to an artificially restrained maximum speed of 155mph. That’s a massive amount of power to have on tap should you want to extend to this swish model. The sound is amazing too. The good thing about it is the fact that it uses the same 3.0ltr engine as lesser models in the range so the economy won’t give you a coronary. Yay! It’s also worth noting that the efficiency all around is 20% greater than before with the BMW X5 being the lightest, most aerodynamic vehicle in the segment – something that leads it to have excellent eco figures.
All in all, what’s the lowdown with the 2015 BMW X5? The competition in this segment has become so great that it is perhaps time to admit that the BMW X5 isn’t head and shoulders above the rest, but is instead in the thick of the action as a plucky and very capable contender. This easy riding monster strikes a great medium between everything that matters with some outstanding qualities to boot: a very high class cabin, a 7 seat option as well as boasting a class leading balance between economy and performance. All together it is probably the best all-rounder you’ll find in the segment and definitely one to consider.
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