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Driven: All-new BMW X5 to remain segment leader

New three-variant BMW X5 large SUV range ushers in new tech, luxury, design

23 Nov 2018

BMW Group Australia fully expects its new fourth-generation X5 large SUV to retain its place as the best-selling model in the segment, a position it has managed to hold over the past decade despite strong competition from the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Range Rover Sport and Audi Q7.


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the new X5, BMW Australia head of product and market planning Brendan Michel said the company was confident the new-generation model would remain Australia’s favourite over-$70,000 large luxury SUV.


“We definitely expect it to remain segment leader,” he said. “It’s next level ... it’s the whole new next generation.


“It’s the first of a long list of new cars coming in the near future with (iDrive 7 user interface) technology, that new KAFAS camera with the three cameras moved in to scan the road, it’s the next generation of level two autonomous technology as well, so there’s plenty to talk about and plenty of new tech in the car.”

With two months left in 2018, the outgoing X5 remains the best seller in its segment despite its age, with BMW finding 2277 new homes for the large luxury SUV ahead of the Range Rover Sport (1900), Lexus RX (1710), Audi Q7 (1575) and Mercedes-Benz GLE (1749) – the latter set to arrive in all-new guise in the second quarter of next year.


While BMW is launching the new-gen X5 with only two variants – the volume-selling 30d and performance-fettled M50d – a third variant, the petrol-powered 40i will join the range in the first quarter of 2019, followed by more variants further down the line.


While the 30d has traditionally been the best-selling variant in the range, Mr Michel believes the addition of the 40i may usurp its crown.


“We think (the 40i) will potentially be the sweet spot in our market given the extra performance it has over the 30d, and such a low engine surcharge over the 30d as well,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see whether our customers gravitate towards getting that extra performance in the 40i.”


Further down the line, the range will be bolstered with the addition of the 45e plug-in hybrid, which will feature twice the pure-electric range of its predecessor while upping the petrol engine from four cylinders to six.


A rear-drive, four-cylinder turbo-diesel entry-level version is expected to arrive at some point, as is a full-fat M version, which is yet to be announced for the new generation.


While more variants are coming, Mr Michel said the model range will likely be smaller than the outgoing F15 generation’s seven-strong line-up.


“I think we need to evaluate it over the next 12 to 24 months on what extra engines we do bring to the market,” he said.


“I think it was at some stage we had seven different engines you could get on the previous-generation X5 – that might have been a little too complex for not only our customers but our dealers to be able to maintain stock, so we’ll focus on the models that we sell well and we know will sell well.”


He said the most likely variant to not be carried over is the 40d, which sits in between the 30d and M50d for diesel variants.


For now, the range kicks off at $112,990 plus on-road costs for the 30d, up to $115,990 for the 40i and topping out at $149,900 for the M50d.


The new X5 has grown in all dimensions over its predecessor, standing 19mm taller, 66mm wider and 36mm longer, with a 42mm increase in wheelbase and 39mm in rear track. The extra width helps the X5 remain more stable on the road, while the wheelbase and length increase has meant more room in the passenger sections of the interior.


Boot space remains the same at 650 litres (1870L with the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats down), but a new electrically operated split tailgate increases practicality and versatility.


New technology has been a major focus of the X5 update, with modern features included throughout the inside and outside of the vehicle.


Driver assistance tech has been improved with the addition of the new three-camera KAFAS system that features a wider, longer lens that can see further than before, can differentiate between pedestrians and cyclists and is better at keeping the vehicle centred when lane keep assist is activated. Overall the new X5 features five radar sensors, 12 ultrasonic sensors and seven cameras.


Making use of the new cameras is the reversing assistant feature, which can autonomously backtrack up to 50m in reverse at speeds under 35km/h, retracing the path that the vehicle has just taken. The car carries out steering inputs but the driver controls the throttle.


Inside, the X5 becomes the first vehicle to score BMW’s latest iDrive 7 user interface, with improved voice and gesture control, updated layout, third-generation head-up display and a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster.


The dashboard has been redesigned with a cleaner layout, while comfort is enhanced with a reduction in cabin noise levels, a panoramic glass sunroof, electrically adjustable sports seats upholstered in Vernasca leather and automatic climate control.


A multitude of options are available on the new X5, including different trim lines, wheels and leather upholstery, as well as a range of suspension systems starting with steel springs and electronically controlled dampers, up to adaptive M suspension and new two-axle air suspension.


For the first time, an off-road option package will be available (barring M50d grades) which includes the two-axle air suspension capable of being raised and lowered, off-road drive modes, underbody protection, a special off-road camera and a locking rear differential.


Each of the three initial variants use a different powertrain, starting with the 30d which employs a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel inline six-cylinder engine capable of outputting 195kW/620Nm, helping achieve a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds.


All variants drive all four wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.


Standard equipment on the 30d includes the comfort access system, ambient lighting with six adjustable colours, parking assistant plus with surround-view camera, real-time traffic information, Apple CarPlay, DAB+ digital radio, automatic climate control, 10-speaker sound system, adaptive LED headlights, LED foglights and tail-lights, automatic wipers and headlights, and the xLine trim package which includes 20-inch alloys, sport steering wheel, chrome kidney grille frame, dark interior trims, dual chrome tailpipe finishers, stainless steel underbody protection.


Safety kit including active cruise control with stop and go, front and rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, crossroads warning and evasion aid is also standard.


The M Sport package can also be optioned for $4000.


Steeping up to the 40i nets the same standard spec as the 30d, but swaps out diesel power for a twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine, capable of producing 250kW/450Nm for a 0-100km.h sprint time of 5.5 seconds.


Topping the range for now is the M50d, which also uses a 3.0-litre diesel engine but adds a whopping four turbochargers, boosting output over the 30d to 294kW/760Nm and allowing the sprint to 100km.h to be completed in 5.2s.


Standard kit over the 30d includes an M Sport exhaust, brakes and differential, adaptive M suspension professional, rear-wheel steering, Laserlight headlights, 22-inch alloys, M aerodynamics package, M Performance exterior design elements, soft-close doors, four-zone climate control, heated and cooled cupholders, front seat heating and lumbar support and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.


A range of alloy wheels and option packages will also be available for customers on all models.

2018 BMW X5 pricing*

30d $112,990
40i $115,990
M50d $149,900

*Excludes on-road costs

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