DRIVEN: All-new BMW X5 30d xDrive

X5’s poor cousin’s physique is far more desirable than it’s performance.

BMW is making a big deal out of their new fourth – generation X5, going so far as to declare, “The boss is back”.

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One glance at those enormous nostrils – referred to as the brand’s signature kidney grille – that almost single handedly dominate the SUV’s imposing physique, and the authoritative declaration, as far as looks go, is justified.

The aggressive yet elegant lines continue around the exterior, while the interior’s premium finishes offer a dynamic driving experience.

The impressive list of driver assistance systems provide an overall look and feel suited to even the biggest of bosses.

Seeing other motorists get out of its way as this bad boy’s nostrils flare in their rearview mirrors really does make your chest swell – like when you look down from the windows of a big corner office.

But there is a slight issue and it’s hidden underneath the big chiselled hood.

The new X5 has been launched locally in two derivatives, the M50d and the xDrive30d.

While our road test editor Mark Jones will put the X50d through its paces this week to bring you the lowdown on it’s performance, we got to drive the xDrive30d in the meantime.

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I expect bossy numbers from the X50d to back up the car’s imposing physique, but can’t say the same for the “poor cousin”. The idea is not to badmouth the xDrive30d.

That would be difficult with a car of this pedigree.

The 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder turbodiesel engine, paired with an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox, produces 195kW of power and 620Nm of torque.

BMW claims it will go from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds. That is more than most drivers need.

But, for those who want to not only look like the boss but to boss their fellow motorists, too, the 294kW/760Nm X50d and yet-tobe-launched X5M are going to be the better options – even though you’ll have to fork out a family sized sedan more to foot the bill of R1 493 600.

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At least the extra R307 400 you’ll pay to upgrade from the xDrive30d base model will give you peace of mind that you’ll confidently smoke that Golf GTI when the robot turns green.

That is my point.

Not knowing if you’ll be able to outpace the hot hatch next to you detracts too much from this “boss” business.

And the artificial grunt produced over the sound system doesn’t help, either, as it creates the impression of some serious oomph that’s not really there.

That said, the xDrive30d is a premium car which continues the model’s proud heritage.

The model we drove included an optional list of equipment that totalled R328 350, ranging from an M Sport package to night vision with object recognition.

It was also fitted with the offroad package and 21-inch mixed tyres, which adds a new dimension to this generation of a model that originally debuted as a soft-roader.

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I didn’t take it off-road purely because it’s just too damn shiny to run the risk of any scratches.

Jones did get to engage in some serious bushwhacking during its world launch in Atlanta, Georgia in September last year and was pleasantly surprised.

It gives you the option of four driving modes, Sand, Gravel, Rocks and Snow, and by selecting them the car will electronically adjust to the appropriate settings, ranging from drive height to accelerator response.

On the tarmac where most of these models will spend the majority of their time, the ride is every bit as smooth as its reputation, rounded off with luxurious finishing … like that desirable leather seat at the head of the board room table.

All new X5 models are sold with a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan and a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty.

Likes 

  • Gotta love those nostrils.
  • The emergency spare wheel, which is absent in some X models.

Dislikes 

  • Front seats not heated and/ or ventilated.
  • The sun’s glare from the shiny console around gear lever can be blinding.

Verdict 

Being bigger and better, the X5 should be even more desirable than it has ever been.

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