The New BMW X5 - When Twins are not Twins
When are twins not twins? When they are not born on the same day. When they look totally different. When you can recognise them apart.
Now, here is the thing. The third-generation BMW X5 SAV is the newest in the X5 line, but it looks the same as the previous generation – only by parking them next to each other can you tell the difference. Once the differences become obvious, it is immediately noticeable that the new X5 is more upright, appears wider with its edged lines and has a much broader stance. The same goes for the interior. Depending on optional equipment ordered, it can differ from its predecessor. The genes are most definitely BMW with no surprises in the looks department, and the long heritage is clearly visible.
We discussed whether this is a good or a bad thing and pondered on phrases like, ‘If it is working, well don’t change it’ and ‘BMW owners of the previous generation will not feel left with a design derelict’. The new model also ensures that present BMW clients will easily make the shift when time comes, as the new X5 will be familiar to them. I am not going to give my halfpennyworth, as I tend to agree with all the viewpoints.
Whether or not you agree or disagree on the design similarity, the BMW X5 SAV is a great vehicle both on- and off-road. Yes, it is not a hard-core off-road vehicle, and I doubt it has ever been meant as one, but it still has tremendous off-road agility , and the wet and slippery KwaZulu-Natal roads did not pose any challenges. Nor did the sandy tracks from Kosi Bay to Ponta Mamoli faze this lovely SAV. What we experienced and enjoyed was the lovely ride quality that only a few other contenders will be able to match.
The BMW X5 is seen more of a lifestyle vehicle and less of a ‘rugged go-anywhere’ vehicle. Thus the trip to Ponta Mamoli was rather an enjoyable driving experience in a super-luxury vehicle while travelling over not-so-nice roads and tracks, in comfort. When we arrived at Ponta Mamoli, it was essentially a continuation of the luxury and comfort we enjoyed while driving. I hate to get to my destination bone tired, flop down and am only revitalised upon leaving. With the X5, it was exactly the opposite. Annelize and I were still in good spirits, energetic and in awe of the lovely coastline and the White Pearl Resort where we stayed for the weekend.
Having become accustomed to the luxury of the BMW, raised the bar as to what we expected to experience at the resort. The manager, Jeremy Clayton, and his team personally greeted us before whisking us off for a quick orientation and tour of the facilities. Thereafter, we retired to our luxurious villas against the hill overlooking the ocean. What a lovely treat! What a beautifully stylish room where the ocean is to be seen from even the bath or the outside shower. Our own little private splash pool was the cherry on top of the cake as we spent most of our time in it. As with the BMW X5, it is first impressions that count and these are quickly cemented by the added value, particularly the service at the resort. Like the BMW family, the White Pearl experience is second to none and no request was too large and was always performed with a smile. The food was superb. The seafood platter with giant tiger prawns, calamari and catch of the day was unbelievably tasty. Depending on your budget, you can, as with BMW’s options list, decide if you want half-board or full board, the latter of course providing one with additional pleasure.
The essence of the weekend was, I believe, to show us how one can enjoy and experience the excellence, dynamics and exclusiveness of a versatile vehicle and also choose a resort with the same qualities; the two totally different objectives providing you with the same exhilarating experience and fulfilment. Since this is about the BMW X5 SAV, I have to discuss the dynamics of this sporty SAV. Yes, the SAV is BMW’s own derivative and stands for ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’. The BMW has been popular since its introduction in 1999 and has sold more than 1.3-million units, of which 12 000 have been sold in South Africa. The X5 is also responsible for a third of BMW’s sales. Its success is due to its modern design features, robustness and versatility. It can be easily individualised by a large range of options, such as the ever-popular M Sports package, different adaptive suspension packages, and much more.
BMW is known for its superb driving qualities and handling, and these were once again in evidence on all surfaces driven on. All three models have excellent acceleration and torque and will make many a sports vehicle shy away – not only when it comes to accelerating, but also when going through tight corners with not so much as a judder or a squeal. At all times, the X5 is drivable without any negative feel, and it remains surefooted even while driving through mud. The eight-speed auto gearbox is a gem and even the two diesel derivatives behave like high-revving petrol units.
I am not going to talk about all the features, about this and that, and so on and so on. You can read about these for yourself in the brochures. However, what I want you to grasp is that the BMW X5 is a modern-day marvel with everything you could want. It is practical with lots of space – it has a luggage area of 650 litres, which can increase to 1 870 litres with the second row of seats down. In front of you there is an iDrive control you can write on with your finger – and, no, I am not joking –the Connected Drive will see that you stay connected with the world through your smartphone. You can also receive traffic information and there is even a concierge service to make bookings for you. The head-up display, with its optional night vision for animals and pedestrians, also includes lane-change and blind-spot assistance.
These are but a few of the really exceptional and class-leading systems available. A previous gripe I had with BMW seats was that the headrests were too far back and led to a real pain in the neck while trying to rest your head. Now, the rests move forward on their own, or as a unit, with the top third of the backrest providing excellent support to the upper back. Now that is what I call ingenuity.
OUT OF OFFICE | CAR REVIEW
by Carl Wepener
The optional packages will individualise your X5 or fine-tune it precisely to your spefication. Expect to pay from R22 000 up to R200 000 for this privilege but, rest assured, you will be pleased. Fuel consumption differed considerably throughout our journey, the worst being the BMW X5 xDrive50i recorded 29.7l per 100km while driving in sand. Open-road driving at 120km/h brought the consumption down to 13.4l per 100km. I was very surprised by the BMW X5 M50d’s consumption while driving in sand. It was a very reasonable 12.7l per 100km. I recorded a consumption of 8.3l per 100km with the BMW X5 xDrive30d, but did not have a chance to drive it while travelling off-road.
In closing, I must say that it was a most pleasant and relaxed journey and then to find a gem – sorry, ‘pearl’ – as we did at Ponta Mamoli was truly exceptional.
* Prices as at date of publishing