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Driven: Rear-drive arrives for BMW’s X5

Rear view: BMW believes its two-wheel-drive, urban friendly X5 will appeal to a different class of luxury SUV buyers.

New sDrive 25d arrives in Australia, bringing BMW X5 starting price down to $83k


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19 Mar 2014

BMW’S most affordable X5 variant has arrived in Australia in the form of the $82,900 rear-drive sDrive 25d, but don’t expect it to be the German luxury marque’s best-selling variant.

Instead, the Australian arm of the Munich-based company believes the existing four-paw $99,900 X5 xDrive 30d powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel version – and not the 2.0-litre turbo diesel in this new 25d – will continue to command up to seven out of every 10 of the large SUV’s sales.

However, BMW believes a cheaper version of the X5 will reach out to a different batch of customers, pointing to this version being more of a ‘conquest’ car.

As well as the sDrive 25d, BMW is also introducing a four-wheel-drive version with the same powertrain called the xDrive 25d, priced from $87,900 plus on-road costs.

The arrival in showrooms of the base diesel offering is complemented by the local launch of xDrive 35i petrol and xDrive40d diesel variants, bringing the number of variants in the X5 range up to seven.

Since the new X5 range launched last November, BMW has made do with just the X5 xDrive30d, X5 xDrive50i and X5 M50d. But this trio, with 430 sales in the first two months of this year, has still outsold rivals the Audi Q7 (264) and Mercedes-Benz M-Class (375).

To the end of February, the X5 was the second best-selling luxury SUV, pipped by the four-wheel-drive Land Rover Discovery 4 that starts from $68,900, VFACTS data shows.

Australians love the X5. The E53 model was launched in 1999, and buyers here lapped up more than 16,000 of them. The E70, launched in 2007, sold more than 21,000 units over its lifespan.

The X5 sDrive 25d launched this week is the first of the brand’s X5 models to eschew all-wheel-drive in favour of a rear-wheel-drive layout, and the first X5 to feature a four-cylinder engine under the bonnet. It is also the first of the generation ‘F15’ X5s to tip the scales at less than two-tonnes, although at 1995kg it’s only just.

Up to 30 per cent of entry-level buyers are expected to order the base version with all-paw grip for an extra $5000.

According to BMW Australia product manager Brendan Michel, the new X5 sDrive25d is a “little more urban” than its all-paw brethren.

The X5 sDrive25d and its all-paw xDrive25d cousin both use a twin-turbo 1995cc version of BMW’s widely-used ‘N47’ diesel four-cylinder engine producing 160kW of power at 4400rpm and 450Nm of torque between 1500 and 2500rpm.

The diesel engine can push the X5 sDrive25d from 0-100km/h in 8.2 seconds, with the same result for the all-paw version despite its extra 45kg of drivetrain that sends a minimum of 35 per cent of drive to the front wheels.

Combined fuel use for the cheaper X5 is 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres, helped by an idle-stop system that shuts down the engine when the SUV is stopped in traffic, with emissions capped at 152 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre compared with the AWD version’s 6.0L/100km and 157g/km ratings.

The base X5 sits on 18-inch wheels wrapped in run-flat rubber by default, and drive arrives at the rear ones via an eight-speed automatic transmission that is standard across the range.

Other standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, bi-Xenon headlights, electric-adjust leather-trimmed front seats, leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, a self-dimming rear-vision mirror, a reversing camera that shows up in the 10.25-inch LCD screen high on the dash and complemented by front and rear parking sensors, BMW’s satellite navigation, a USB port and a Wi-Fi hub that shares a smartphone’s data connection with other devices, wood trim and an electric tailgate.

The headlights switch on automatically when dusk falls, and the wipers sweep as soon as the entry-level X5 detects rain falling on the windscreen.

As with other versions of the X5, an optional third row of seats is available.

However, for the 25d models it will cost $4600, as the SUV needs to have the optional air suspension fitted to take the weight of an extra two passengers.

The second-row seats split 40:20:40, taking the rear cargo space from 650 litres to 1870L when folded flat.

All versions come with BMW’s Driving Experience Control, which can change the steering response, accelerator response and transmission characteristics from sports-minded to economy-focused.

2014 BMW X5 pricing*
*Excludes on-road costs.

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