ROAD TEST: Hot BMW X5 M50d takes it up a notch

Fuel efficiency very impressive for this level of performance.

Last week, our Motoring editor brought you his impression of BMW’s stylish new X5 and as much as he enjoyed the vehicle, he felt the xDrive30d model was lacking a little in outright pace.


To comprehensively remedy that feeling, this week we have the other model in the lineup, the potent M50d derivative on test.

As the badge suggests, the X5 xDrive30d runs a 3.0-litre straight-six, single turbo diesel engine.

And the M50d on test, well, it doesn’t run a 4.0-litre or a 5.0-litre as many people think, it actually also runs a 3.0-litre straight-six, but not with one turbo, or two or three, but four of them bolted on this time round (the previous model had three).

Two high-pressure and two low-pressure units.

A proper 294kW of peak power is on tap at 4 400rpm, and a full 760Nm of torque is available between 2 000 and 3 000rpm.


But perhaps more importantly for everyday driving, 450Nm of torque is already available from just off idle at 1 000rpm.

And not only does this make for effortless cruising, it also means that if you poke this bear, it gets angry and hauls.

Delving ever so briefly into the technical detail, how BMW achieves this is that in normal driving situations both low-pressure turbochargers and one of the two high-pressure units are permanently active.

The second high-pressure turbocharger only adds to the power and torque fest when you go over 2 500 rpm.

And under hard acceleration from idle, flaps are adjusted so the pair of low-pressure turbochargers are swiftly bypassed, thereby generating maximum boost with even less delay.

Now this being a performance road test, I guess it is the hauling part that should interest you most.


And haul it does for a turbodiesel 2.2-ton AWD SUV.

The power and torque already mentioned are effortlessly put through the eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels via the vehicle’s launch control function.

And this sees the 0 to 100km/h sprint taken care of in a mere 5.33 seconds.

Those of you who know your performance figures can attest, this number puts the X5 M50d in some serious company and no average off-the-floor hot hatch is going to shame you at the traffic lights.

The X5 M50d then goes on to cross the quarter mile in just 13.68 seconds, the half mile just short of 200km/h at 199 and crosses the 1km mark at 209 km/h.

Top speed, although largely academic for a vehicle such as this, comes in all too quickly at an electronically limited 249.71 km/h.

I can also say that this level of performance does not come at the cost of fuel efficiency.


The claim is 7.2-litres per 100km, but you would need to be living in la la land if your believed that or bought an M50d for this purpose.

This is not BMW’s fault though, the industry standard test required to provide this data is completely outdated and in the process of being replaced to better reflect real world conditions.

This said, I was still exceptionally impressed with the 10.9-litres per 100km I averaged during the time I had the vehicle.

This is a number many other manufacturers wish they could attain with this level of performance.

Over the past 20 years, the X5, the first X model in BMW’s model portfolio, has evolved into a class leading premium option, not only in terms of technology, safety and comfort, but also in terms of driving enjoyment and dynamics.

This is mostly courtesy of the latest generation of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which is now able to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels with even greater precision and speed as the situation demands.

The new xDrive system also offers a rear-biased set-up for those occasions when you want to tackle the faster cars in the twisties.

And because this is an M model, you get an electronically controlled rear differential lock thrown into the handling equation.


Governed by the Driving Stability Control (DSC) system, the locking function for the rear differential improves traction and power transmission by preventing one of the rear wheels from spinning when grip is limited.

You also don’t have to be a race car driver to figure out how to get the best from your X5.

The standard offering, Dynamic Damper Control system, is electronically controlled and adjusted, along with engine performance, by means of the Driving Experience Control switch.

Did I go bundu bashing with the X5 M50d? Nope.

The M50d model cannot be ordered with the optional Off-Road package that sees the likes of under guard protection, two-axle air suspension and electronically controlled rear differential lock added to the runof-the-mill X5 models.

There is no extra button for selecting sand, rock, gravel or snow, just comfort and sport doing what it does best in this performance-orientated model, and that is offer an unrivalled driving experience.



  • On-road dynamics.
  • Fuel consumption.


  • Probably will never take it off-road.


  • This is the best all-round performance, premium turbodiesel SUV you can buy in SA today.

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