8 Jun 18

The new X5: bigger, better but not bolder

At the turn of the millennium, BMW launched a car that would make a tremendous impact on the automotive industry and inspire other OEMs to follow its lead. Today, this car inaugurates its fourth generation, which adds more space and advanced technology but remains oddly conservative in the powertrain department.

Since 2005, the competition in the large SUV segment has toughened considerably. In that year, Audi introduced the Q7, which joined the Mercedes GLE (previously known as the ML), the Volvo XC90 and the Range Rover Sport to try and steal the crown from the Bavarian block buster.

In the meantime, all of the X5 competitors have passed the torch to the next generation. It was high time for the Bavarian SUV - or SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle), as its maker prefers to call it - to reinvent itself to rise up to the X-pectations of an ever more discerning clientele.

Office 365 and Skype for Business aboard

Driving pleasure remains BMW’s adagio, but the Bavarian premium brand realises that in real life, people are also queuing in traffic. Interior wellbeing was therefore high up on the priority list, resulting in even more cabin space, materials and shapes that woo the eye and advanced infotainment options. Rear passengers have two integrated 10.2-inch touch screens at their disposal. Those in the front can enjoy an innovation that BMW calls Live Cockpit Professional, featuring a 12.3-inch control display and an equal in size fully digital instrument cluster (standard).

Interestingly, BMW’s Connected Services now include Office 365 and Skype for Business. Users can access their email account and manage appointments and contacts directly in the control display. They can have emails read out to them and use voice commands to dictate and send new messages. In addition, calendar appointments can be confirmed, cancelled or transferred straight to the navigation system. Also, upcoming Skype meetings are automatically identified and displayed together with the names of the other participants. A nudge of the iDrive Controller is all that is needed to join a teleconference.

Safety: catching up with Volvo

The Volvo XC90's array of ADAS is impressive, but BMW has made a real effort to bring the new X5 to the same level. It introduces a system called Emergency Stop Assistant. When the driver is incapacitated due to a medical emergency, this assistant will bring the vehicle to a standstill either in the current lane, at the edge of the road or on the hard shoulder. Any necessary lane-change manoeuvres can be performed automatically when travelling at 70 – 100 km/h.

The optional Lane Change Assistant can be used on motorways and dual carriageways when the Steering and lane control assistant is active. Holding the direction indicator in the required direction initiates a lane change if the sensors detect that there is space in the adjacent lane and that no other vehicle is approaching at high speed.

Engines: strangely conservative

In sharp contrast with the new X5’s innovative safety, connectivity, comfort and convenience features is what lies below the shapely bonnet. No hybrid technology in sight, not even a small 48V lithium ion battery with a belt-driven alternator. That doesn’t mean that BMW hasn’t made an effort to drive down emissions and fuel consumption, though.

Europeans only have six-cylinder ICEs at their disposal: a 3-litre petrol (40i, CO2 193 g/km) and two 3-litre diesels (30d: CO2 158 g/km; M50d, 179 g/km). Other markets can also opt for a beefy 4.4 V8. All engines are mated to the well-know ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic and an intelligent all-wheel drive system. It is not known when or if a plug-in hybrid (40e), like in the current X5 model, will follow. The new X5 will be available by the end of the year.

Picture copyright: BMW, 2018

Authored by: Dieter Quartier