The car/crossover/SUV you see in the pictures is BMW`s X5, now in its 3rd Generation. Originally conceptualized as the E53, then E70 and now F15 which is its present nomenclature retains it beefy looks and imposing street presence, rather takes it a few notches further. We took this Bavarian behemoth for a spin and come back bewildered, it gotten more powerful, efficient, big and light all at the same time. Oh, and it looks stunning too! Rarely do movie sequel surpass the previous iterations, the X5 makes one beg to differ.
Our test X5 came with gorgeous BMW Performance footwear which further accentuated the overall visual appeal of this crossover, full marks to the tasty 20 inch light alloy wheels (Style#375) shod with Pirelli PZero run flat rubber 285/35 R20 at front and 325/30 R20 at the rear.
The previous E70 had been around for a long time and by 2014, model looks were too dated despite its regular updates, with respect to the rest of BMW`s portfolio. The 2014 X5 incorporates all the key findings and innovations that power the current crop of BMW vehicles. The X5 was originally described as a Sports Activity Vehicle, and now it has become that and more. The kidney grille on the X5 could be the biggest ever on any BMW vehicle with that of the X6 being the closest contender and is “thrust forward” in contrast to the swept look of the earlier one.
The fusion of the headlamp cluster melting into the satin finished kidney grille treatment is received by the X5 quite well, and enhances the wide track look of it. The fog lamps are mounted higher up in the front bumper closer to the headlamp washers with the lower half sporting the sculpted and chiseled look akin to sport versions of premium sedans. The chin of the bumper has been finished off in satin silver hinting at the sporty demeanor.
With the relocation of the fog lamps, BMW has achieved the goal of infusing the “Air Curtain” in the design which demands large air intakes. Upon taking a closer look, the air ducts which reminds one of the brake cooling ducts on a F1 car, channeling the air into the wheel- well. The “air breather” slats placed behind the wheel arches along with the Air Curtain work in improving the dynamics as well as fuel efficiency of the vehicle.
The crease initiated by the air breather follows all the way till the rear door. This sports activity vehicle now uses LED lighting in its headlamps, fog lamps and tail lamps, a move over Xenon which was found in the headlamps earlier.
BMW hasn`t stopped just there with the front apron, but they have also added the “Air Blade” on the D pillar to improve the airflow as well as make the car appear wider. In BMW speak the “Air Blade”, essentially is what we know as the tailgate spoiler with extensions on the D pillar. Talk about form and function, and BMW`s boffins exhibit this penchant to constantly evolve and improve.
The trademark horizontally split tailgate remains, just that the top half receives electronic close function as an addition. Visually, the previous generation X5 was brilliant in its own right and marked an epoch, the new X5 creates a new one altogether. With all the cuts and creases that have been imparted over the earlier X5, the new car looks lithe, athletic and agile even at standstill unlike its competition which is purely big and bulky.
Cabin : Luxury meets function
Climbing inside the X5 one is greeted by interiors that are so traditionally BMW yet brimming with tech and utterly modern and laced with quality. The intent seems to make you believe that you are driving a tall sedan rather than a crossover or a SUV. Interiors are similar to other products from the stable albeit with a list of features specific to the X5.
The 26cm stand alone display screen stands nestled above the air-con vents on the dash, which resembles a mini tablet PC. A special mention should be made for its resolution which is brilliant especially with the parking assistance cameras switched on. The double bump on the dash is also done away with, making it look less bulky.
The next bit that arrests your attention and senses at the same time is the “Fineline Pure Wood” trim adorning the dash. Unlike the highly polished and lacquered glossy finish we are used to seeing on premium cars, the X5 is a pleasant surprise displaying the real texture of the trim which makes you reach out and feel it at the first sight.
The seats are dressed in BMW`s Canberra Beige Dakota/Ivory white nappa leather. We have regularly spoken highly of the ergonomics offered in BMW cars, and this SAV is no different. While most of the switches and controls fall within easy reach, only the passenger side power window switch requires a tad bit of stretch but isn’t a bother at all.
The array of buttons and switches bear the familiar resemblance once inside a BMW. The iDrive controller which is the epicenter of various functions also incorporates a touchpad on the dial where as the bezel sports the spaced spline surface. The controller itself is slightly bigger in size and sits a bit more flush than the previous versions and exudes a brilliant tactile feel in operation, while being surrounded by the “shortcut” buttons. A quick highlight of the controls through the iDrive which offers access to Multimedia, Radio, Navigation, Telephone, Office, Connected Drive, Vehicle information and other Settings. The screen itself offers an option of split where one can choose what one wishes to view in the partial pane.
The X5 comes preinstalled with a Sat Nav which is swift in locating the vehicle`s position. Dialing in alphabets and numbers is way faster thanks to the touchpad over the tedious twirling of dial to select each character. A simple swipe to the left (e.g.: rejecting a phone call on smart phones) and swipe to the right for “space”, while depressing the dial for “enter” or “select” is very logical. The handwriting recognition is quite intuitive as well as fool proof and doesn’t confuse the software as long as one doesn’t test its patience with neo-gothic characters!
The Sat-Nav itself is very quick and responsive while zoom in/out functions are seamless devoid any lag. The system is integrated with various maps views, points of interests, restaurants, fuel bunks, voice guidance etc. The xDrive status is akin to a digital compass which also displays vehicle inclination in all directions, graphically and numerically.
Vehicle Status/Information: Via the controller and endless menu, sub-menu options one can view real time vehicle information. The dip-stick is made virtual (and redundant) by the onboard Engine oil level check, tyre pressure monitors, service intervals etc. Even though BMW supplies the car with a user manual, for the Smartphone/tab savvy generation that we are in, there`s a soft copy available pre-loaded onboard! This can be accessed through “Vehicle Info” which also gives you Onboard info., Trip computers, Vehicle status, Sport Displays and xDrive status, Efficient dynamics(Historical data on drive mode/fuel economy) etc. The Sport Displays remains our much loved toy which depicts the “Power” and “Torque” dials. These are real time readouts and every dab on the throttle show instantaneous peak power produced by the engine, reminding of the GT-R displays.
The vehicle settings help in virtually customizing various features on the X5. Whether you want to adjust the control display screen brightness or adjust any of time/date, language/units, touchpad settings etc. This also reveals the Ambient lighting settings control which range from cool blue to tangy orange as well preset mish-mash combinations. These profiles can also be copied onto a USB device and carried to other BMW vehicle for quick deployment.
This is one feature which is increasingly common to most cars, and here it gives full access (depending upon selection) to your Smartphone’s phonebook/music contents once connected via Bluetooth/USB cable. Searching for content is made simple with the touch pad, and the audio tracks display the album art as well! The sound settings for the wonderful Harman Kardon equipped model can be found here and tweaked as per personal preferences. Music can also be copied to the onboard hardrive. Access to the phone also means text messages can be read on the screen.
Cabin, Comfort and Features (Continued..)
Now that the touch pad has already made its way into the infotainment systems, we are quite certain that fingerprint recognition will wriggle its way in too, soon. Ever since BMW introduced the iDrive ages ago, they have managed to refine it over the years and make it intuitive enough to make our favorite. The X5 is also equipped with a 16 speaker 600w Harman Kardon sound system which happens to be amongst one of the best we have sampled. Along with BMW`s ConnectedDrive driver assistance, the infotainment system is a tablet on the go.
The X5 was never a cramped SUV; however with the F15 this 7 seater seems to have made the best use of its most available space. Even with 6 foot occupants in the front seats, the middle row won’t face any shortage of leg room by any means. The front seats themselves are big and well contoured; however for a SAV with such agile dynamics, we found them a bit short on sufficient side bolstering. Unless you are endowed with a big frame, it’s easy to slide around while driving enthusiastically. The central armrest can be flipped open to reveal USB port, charging socket and additional storage space apart from the twin cup holders ahead of the gear selector joystick. The front door pads also have twin bottle holders each, and can hold 1.5 liter bottles with ease.
The leather wrapped steering wheel repeats all the shortcuts to regularly used functions like volume control, telephony and rubberized scroll and select buttons. The 3 spoke steering wheel which is adjustable for rake and reach is a typical BMW affair and feels good to hold with the shift paddles positioned behind them. The twin sets of AirCon vents are a thoughtful addition in controlling the airflow, one is seldom left with chilled hands.
The middle row occupants are pampered with individual B pillar mounted AC vents apart from the central vents and climate control switches. The rear door pads get bottle holders as well as twin cup holders in the rear central armrests. The middle row itself is adjustable fore and aft (80mm) as well as 10 degree seatback adjustment liberating precious space for the 3rd row with twin space saver seats(May we call them) and can be folded down in 40:20:40 ratio of splits. The leg room and seating comfort on the middle row leaves hardly anything more to ask for. Sadly, the individual seat mounted displays have been omitted for India spec, the panoramic sunroof however adds to the airy-ness of the cabin.
While being fully folded position, it’s hard to imagine a set of seats under the flat luggage compartment – such is the neat packaging. Well, if that’s not all, there are twin cup holders between the seats as well! The third row of seats is the only region in the X5 where space and comfort seem alien terms let alone the ease of ingress and egress. As a personal opinion, this space could have been utilized for a space saver, or a simple storage bay (as on international models) instead of chasing max. number of occupants the car can seat. Completely folded down, the luggage area measure up to a massive 1870 liters.
Main menu showing the host of options
Middle row seats offer loads of room, the back rest can be reclined by 10 degrees as well!
Hi resolution display aides reverse camera function to a good measure
600w of surround sound from 16 speakers, courtesy – Harman Kardon.
Rear view mirror with automatic anti/dazzle function.
Remote boot/hatch release button.
Lever to flip open the lower part of the split tail gate.
Trademark BMW cabin, well appointed and high on fit and finish.
Magazine holder behind the front seats come handy.
Twin cup holders in the central arm rest for the middle row.
Third row space is tight.
Third row seats also get twin cup/bottle holders and a cubby hole.
Seat belts slots out of way easing the seat folding operation.
Adjustable hooks to secure various types and sizes of luggage.
Engine, Trasmission and Performance
The 2014 BMW X5 is powered by the BMW`s trusty M57 3L six pot engine which develops 258hp@4000rpm and 560Nm@1500-3000 rpm. This TwinPower Turbo inline 6 cylinder workhorse has undergone a lot of tweaking and refinement over the years, and does a splendid job along with the 8 speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission capable of 0-100kmph in 6.9 seconds. The TwinPower Turbo concept was introduced back in 2007 and has seen its reach across BMW`s range of engines. It is equipped with Double VANOS as well as Valvetronic which coupled with the Twin Scroll turbos deliver power with hardly any lag.
Emphasis on fuel economy is loud and clear as the X5 also sports “ECOPRO” mode which sounds oxymoronic to the “Sport+” which remains accessible at the press of a button. What you also get as standard equipment are Auto Start/Stop, Park Distance Control (PDC), ABS, Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Hill Descent Control, Rain Sensors and Automatic driving lights amongst list of other features.
BMW`s xDrive makes the best use of power without wastage by employing Torque Vectoring across its all wheel drive configuration. What may sound jargons are rather simply explained via the car`s onboard “Vehicle Information” option mentioned earlier.
BMW`s engineers have gone to great lengths to maximize sound deadening and weight reduction. For instance the bonnet is made from Aluminium while the front fenders are formed out of thermoplastic. The BMW Efficient Dynamics is not only aimed at reducing the coefficient of drag to improve performance and fuel economy, but also aides in wind noise reduction in the process. This remains the X5`s highlight, that wind noise and road noise (despite wider low profile rubber) barely infiltrates the cabin.
The straight six however sounds grousy at low revs and remains unobtrusive until the revs start building up. Despite being an oil burner, this one doesn’t resist revving and rather revs easily and sounds best above 4000rpm. The flat torque curve between 1500-3000rpm translates into superb driveability, and the 8 speed auto takes care of other things if any.
The X5 comes with Adaptive suspension package with self-leveling air suspension at the rear. Electronically controlled dampers that constantly vary the damping based on the driving style, driving mode as well as the road conditions. The Dynamic Damper Control instantly varies the damping at each of the 4 shock absorbers along with Active Roll Stabilization and Dynamic Performance Control (Torque Vectoring) to deliver maximum stability, agility as well as comfort.
The earlier generation car was a terrific handler, but how`s the F15? In itself, the F15 is a brilliant handler with pronounced body roll only beyond triple digit speeds. It agility of this 2+ tonner shines in the manner it drives around curves never mind the undulations. The Adaptive suspension package works tirelessly delivering a supple ride unless in Sport or Sport+ modes. What the X5 dislikes are bigger potholes and sharp ridges where it simply crashes through harshly, we would partly blame the low profile rubber for that. With the stock footwear, the X5 should be a lot more pliant over broken patches. Driving it quickly over a rough patch the DDC seems to cut the dampers out completely resulting in violent nose pitch and dive. The rear with the air springs however, keeps movements under control.
Even though Servotronic power steering promises great feel, it eventually shows its electronic roots with slightly vague feel at dead centre. The steering also exhibited a bit of tendency to follow ruts and undulations under heavy braking which didn’t seem quite right. Shuffle between the drive modes and the X5 transforms from a waft-y feeling car in Comfort mode to a taut handling brute with a weighty direct feel to its steering in the Sport+ mode. The minor niggles apart, the X5`s suspension setup soaks up pretty much everything in its path and 209mm of ground clearance only helps its case.
The X5 remains a great handling SUV/SAV of this size as the electronics work overtime to make one forget of its high Centre of Gravity. Whether out on the dual carriageways or in city traffic one doesn’t need to wrestle around. The only grouse are it’s over enthusiastic parking sensors which beep with alarming frequency if any passersby even get close to the car.
At INR 71 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the X5 offer a lot of bang for the buck. With this facelift, BMW has ingested a healthy dose of upgrades like the LED headlights with cornering and high beam assist, BMW`s ConnectedDrive and the iDrive Touch with handwriting recognition. After thinking hard, a missing space saver spare wheel only remains the glaring omission for a SUV which otherwise offers peace of mind.
2014 BMW X5 xDrive 30d Image Gallery