From the outside the car looks pretty much like any other X5. It’s big, muscular and easy on the eyes from every angle. I did notice that the car that I was driving did have a few interesting grooves and slats around the front; these are clearly to aid in its aerodynamic qualities. The rear end of the X5 is also appealing thanks to horizontally designed tail-lights which give the car a wider, sportier.
Another feature that I like about the car that I tested is that it didn’t have low profile tyres, it had tyres that can take a pothole or two and they also help improve the ride quality which is extremely compliant, especially when you select Comfort mode from the drive select toggle. On the dirt the X5 is helped along thanks to xDrive which is BMWs version of all-wheel drive. A flat underbelly also helps when you decide to head off the dirt road and into the bush. Look, the X5 is no low-range king of the jungle but it will deal with most demanding conditions.
Inside the X5 it’s German luxury as usual. Mounted on the dash is a large LCD display which displays all of the infotainment functions as well as vehicle information and navigation. What’s more is that the navigation will inform you about any traffic jams or obstructions in your area. The best part is that the navigation doesn’t even need to be on. I also like the fact that you can download various BMW apps onto your smartphone which then work with the system to better your experience, for example you can check up on the latest news headlines or stream web radio.
Space inside the X5 is ample and there is a luxury feel throughout the car, even passengers at the back can indulge in the special treatment. The car that I tested was fitted with a large panoramic sunroof as well as roller-blinds on the side windows.
Now, to the main attraction, which is the engine. I have always been a firm believer that the only X5 you need is the X5 30d. All the others are really just excessive, like the M50d for example and although the X5M is a blisteringly quick SUV it is rather expensive, do you really need all that power?
Well, the 25d has now confirmed my belief that less is more. Under the big, wide bonnet lies a small 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine, it is so small that it sits in the engine bay like a boat sits on the Pacific. That said, this little oil burner, despite its size develops 170kW and 500Nm of torque. It might not be the fastest thing off the line but it will hit 200km/h with ease, it will also cruise at the legal speed limit on the highway at just under 2500rpm thanks to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Pop the drive select into EcoPro mode and the car becomes somewhat of a wonder when it comes to fuel economy. I managed over 540km on just half a tank. My editor Sean Nurse took it from there and managed to add another 210km to the trip reading with over a 100km range left in the tank. That means we spent an entire week with the X5 25d without having to refuel.
Now the only problem with the car is the fact that it is somewhat of an expensive luxury item. Sure it is premium but our test unit cost just over R1 million due to some optional equipment. The cars base price is around R889 964. Now for R894 548 you can also get into the stunning Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Momentum which develops 165kW and 470Nm.
If you are in the market for a premium SUV then the options are out there for you, they are all competitively price and each offers a unique charm. As for me, in these times I want one that is light on fuel and the X5 25d is one of the best that I’ve tested, I just need to claim my millions from those competitions that I’ve won but never entered.