It’s the size that gets you first. The X5 is a big car to drive in chock-o-block Delhi peak hour traffic and I am getting anxious as I get out of city limits and hit the highway. At a crawl, ruthless office-going motorists are willing to put sheet-metal on the line to make that 10 AM punch-in so I’m feathering the throttle in the spanking new X5, all the time looking in the mirrors to safely guide this ship out of troubled waters. The engine is growling at low speeds, and I am all but annoyed by now. In an instant though, an opening presents itself and I’m beaming from end-to-end. The X5 lunges with an eagerness that defies its 2.1 tonne kerb weight and I am suddenly starting to enjoy it as the traffic gets thinner.
A winding road coming up is all the X5 requires to show how much fun this new car really is. The 30d gets the same 3-litre six-cylinder in-line twin-turbo diesel mill as before but it churns out a healthier 262PS of power. Torque is up too at 560Nm and available at a wider 1,500-3,000 rpm band. It’s not just the power and torque figures but the way it’s delivered that make the X5 a fun car to drive though.
You get the usual Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes with increasing level of engine response and heavier steering input. The best setting at all times is Sport for short bursts of power in the city. Comfort is best suited for bad roads as it helps the X5 waft over the worst of patches. The X5 we drove got the optional 20 inch wheels with drool-worthy alloys. The rear 315 section tyres are in supercar territory and offer immense grip when you need it and pop out of the side of the car almost like the aftermarket shoes many Indian car owners fit their cars with. But the low profile tyres don’t offer a good low speed ride that the new X5 coupled with rear air suspension should offer. We believe the standard 18 inch wheels should offer a more pliant ride. Otherwise the electronic damper control and self-leveling rear suspension ensure a sure-footed ride at all times.
The 8-speed automatic in the X5 is intuitive and knows exactly the right gear to slot you in with the slightest changes in throttle response. And the shifts are quick and seamless enough to lose no time on a brisk run. This aids the X5 to reach the 100kph mark from standstill in a company claimed 6.9 seconds and without strapping on any testing equipment, we’d say it isn’t something we wouldn’t believe. This 30d also comes with the standard aero package that helps keep the drag coefficient at a lowly 0.31 (0.34 for the predecessor). BMW says that this has improved the X5’s efficiency by 16 percent.
As BMWs go, it’s always about the driving experience that gets you first. With the update, BMW has also made a series of changes to the exterior that are worth putting your money on. The headlights are now more elongated and merge into the wider kidney grille. The front bumper is thoroughly revised and sports the new aero package that’s standard for the Indian X5. Tacky black plastic bits on the front have been replaced for painted panels on the bumper and fog lamps are higher set and closer towards the centre of the car. Its predecessor’s boxy rear gives way for a more sculpted look with a smart tail-lamp cluster.
On the inside, the X5 is a very familiar place to be in if you are a BMW owner. The layout is as you will expect and the intuitive iDrive system lets you play around with the features like you’ve been driving this car for ages. A large 10.25 inch screen sits on the dashboard can be set for split-screen information display. It gives an excellent view relayed from the reverse parking camera making it very easy to park despite its size. The parking sensors are quite loud and turn on every time you start the car even if you turned them off the last time. Who wants to knick a car that will cost upwards of Rs 70 lakh anyway, making it a livable irritant.
Parking sensors aside, the X5’s interiors is all about pleasance and harmony. The new un-polished wood panels with its wavy texture, the blue, white and orange customizable interior ambient lighting, four-way automatic climate control and the contrasting white leather seats, all give the X5 a premium feel very essential in this luxury SUV segment. A massive panoramic sun-roof and a high-end Harman Kardon surround sound system are part of the package as well. The X5 despite its size though, doesn’t offer as much space as you’d expect in the rear. The middle row falls short on under-thigh support and the third row is best used folded flat for luggage. The X5 is a seven seater on paper but a five seater only for all practical purposes.
A massive update to the engine, suspension and design – both interior and exterior make the X5 a much better car than it was when BMW launched it in 2011. It’s a hoot to drive and the optional gorgeous 20 inch wheels will just force you to sign the dotted line. This big burly SUV is quite the charmer.
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