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BMW X5 M50d Review

BMW have been making the X5 for a while now. It’s only in it’s second generation, and while there is a new one on the horizon, they thought it would be a good idea to put a new engine in the existing one, which is fine by me, as I get to test an X5.

Now lets leave the stigma of what constitutes an X5 driver behind, and think about the car for a moment.

The X5 is a handsome brute, it’s large and looks aggressive, and really turns heads. I took it to Roberson for a weekend, and parked outside the local restaurant just about every guy walked past, took a look, and some even pointed it out to their wives, some of whom even looked a little interested. It really is good looking from any angle.

On the inside I notice things that I suppose the average person wouldn’t notice, and that’s just because I drive a variety of BMW’s which have all their latest tech. This X5 is a generation older on the inside, but still competes well with just about anything on the market.  There is a new X5 coming out early in 2014, and that would be worth reviewing the inside, and giving more details.

What did strike me though was despite the interior being “long in the tooth” as some have called it, it’s still very very nice and I hold out lots of hope for the new X5, which judging by BMW’s current new models, should be amazing.

The X5 did all the right things, like provide lots of boot space. I managed to pack for a family of 4 to go away for a long weekend, and I got everything in the boot. The boot has auto open and close functions, and has a split tailgate.

We had the optional DVD entertainment system in the back, which kept the kids quiet and allowed me to take the scenic route to Robertson. The DVD system seemed a little detached from the rest of the car, and you need earphones plugged in the back to hear anything as it doesn’t play through the car sound system.

The X5 has a good driving position, which is quite elevated, although the car doesn’t feel as tall as it is, even in the corners.

But all that’s been covered in hundreds of reviews of the X5 over the last couple of years. This car’s real party trick is the engine. Which at this point in my life, I can say is the most impressive engine I’ve ever driven.

It’s a 3.0-litre 6 cylinder diesel engine, with 3 turbos. It produces 280kW, which is impressive, but not as impressive as the 740Nm of torque it kicks out.

The sheer amount of acceleration available when over taking is immense. The M50d makes mince meat of any hill, no matter how steep it is. There is just so much power on demand it’s actually quite scary.

There’s good reason why BMW have slapped the M badge on the back. Putting the 3.0-litre diesel engine to work gets a 2 ton X5 from 0-100km/h in only 5.4 seconds. Your kids in the back will love you for this, your wife in the front probably not as much.

So what we’ve got here is a performance SUV, that performs really well, is practical, spacious and good looking.

But it get’s better. Cars the deliver around 300kW are usually big petrol engines, such as BMW’s 4.4 V8’s which deliver around 330kW. They are however, quite thirsty. In a recent test of the BMW 650i we managed to use most of the fuel quite quickly.

The X5 M50d however, manages to deliver the power and be frugal at the same time. On our trip to Robertson, via the scenic route over mountain passes, I managed to keep the fuel economy down to about 9.0 l/100km. Which is quite frankly staggering. It’s got an 85 litre tank, and I squeezed 800km’s out of it before I decided to head for a garage.

But wait, there’s more! Even though it’s a diesel, you can hear the typical diesel noises coming from the engine. You are also treated to a lovely growl that comes from the engine when you put your foot down a bit. It’s not a V8 growl, but it’s a lovely sound all the same.

The X5 is a great SUV, and with the combination of this engine, it’s one of the best all round cars I’ve ever driven.

Pricing though starts just shy of R1Million rand, and after a few extra’s you’re looking closer to R1.1Million. The new X5 will be available next year, also in the M50d variant, and I’m really looking forward to testing one of those.

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