The first thing that caught my eye was the gear shift knob. More to the point, its crystal effect finish. The X is visible in a strange multi-dimensional way and it looks rather cool.
And while we are on the topic of cool looking bits in the cabin, I’ll say that the combination of the camel coloured upholstery and the black themed dashboard looks rich enough. The wood panelling may look a bit rough, but it’s a different and interesting finish. I like it a lot.
One weird thing I noted — the sunlight reflects from iDrive dial’s glass panel very strongly to the eyes from some particular angles. I’m not a fan of chrome anyway — or of such glass panels. I think they can be done away with and replaced by matte black finished bits. But then, the buying public likes all this bling.
The refinement is what strikes you next. I drove the diesel and the cabin is so silent that when I drove my dad around in this, he asked me how thirsty is the petrol engine?
The engine figures are modest. This is a 3.0-litre that makes 265bhp, 620Nm and the supply is managed by a swift 8-speed ZF gearbox. It’s fairly strong and you won’t feel the need for more power. If you do, for some weird reason, BMW will ship you the xDrive 40i which is a 340bhp affair — so it’s substantially more rewarding to the right foot.
This diesel engine though — it has a great low and very meaty mid range performance. It comes with driving modes that spread from eco to comfort and dials in the maximum performance in sport mode.
There’re plenty of airbags in the cabin — which is not unique in this spectrum. But there are airbags in the suspension as well, so at the push of this button, you can raise the ride height — useful only when going over some big rocks or doing serious slow-speed off roading. It’ll also drop the car down to its lowest setting to let the dynamic abilities shine through.
When the X5 was first introduced in 1999 under the E53 platform code, it shared its off road mechanicals with Range Rover. Still, it was the true introduction — or justification, rather — of the term ‘Sport’ in ‘SUV’. The X5 was sporty in its pretensions unlike any other product before it.
Through its development till now, the X5 has only been getting better and more opulent. It is also getting a bit indirect, however, and that deep sense of connection is getting lost. It’s all very detached.
Most of such cars are never subjected to truly off road conditions. So, the X5 needs to perform, instead, in the Page 3 circles — and it does. It’s not a head turner, but the brand value is as strong as it has been since the beginning. As a celebrity celebration tool, it may not be exciting as a Porsche or as special as the Volvo XC90, but it’s special in its own right. And it still drives damn well.