Huge €12k price move gives X5 an edge
* New BMW two-wheel-drive version to cost €12,000 less than entry-level 4x4
* Smarter looks, bigger cabin, more power, room and spec than predecessors
* Driving edge not as sharp as before
BMW's first two-wheel-drive version of the X5 will cost a substantial €12,000 less than the new four-wheel-drive 3-litre diesel model, I can reveal today.
The 2WD diesel model of the large, luxury SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) will start around €67,000 when it gets here in December.
That compares with €79,450 on-the-road for the 3-litre diesel with 4x4, which arrives in November.
So many people don't need 4x4 technology: they only drive cars such as this on the tarmac.
So, by producing a 2WD X5, BMW cuts production costs, lowers power requirements, and benefits from reduced taxation levels because the smaller (2-litre) engine has fewer emissions.
The final price has yet to be officially sanctioned but you can confidently expect the 4cyl sDrive25d to cost close to €67,000.
Now, apart from that explosive move on price, the old adage of not fixing something that isn't broken applies in huge measure to this third generation X5.
They have done a deceptive amount without appearing to do so much.
I found that when I drove the 3-litre diesel 4x4. Why break the mould when the two previous models were such sweeping successes?
It looks a bit different, sure, but the distinguishing changes are not revolutionary. The front echoes the new 3-series and 4-series while the vehicle itself looks sleeker and lower, less macho. They claim class-leading aerodynamics.
But they have worked wonders with the cabin, now an enviable blend of luxury, comfort and flair. Great mix of curves and angles, lovely leather insets on top of door flanges... that sort of thing.
I love the Range Rover Sport's cabin. Is the new X5's as good? It is a close call between the Beemer's classic modernity and the sheer indulgence of Sport's red-leather cabin?
But the X5 beats anything I know on the simple, but often overlooked, task of getting in. It is the easiest car I now know to get into – you just smooth onto the seat.
By the way, the driver's seat is a little offset and took me a few moments to get used to. But what a great place to be in for that fast, sure-footed drive up long, winding, wet, mountain roads.
They have gone to work – from a different perspective, I think – on the suspension and general set-up.
Where the previous one was an edgy/sporty/taut handler/ driver (loved it), this felt a tad softer, more composed maybe. I missed the edge a bit but I can see where the sense is in emphasising it as a large, comfy, luxury SAV rather than an outright competitor for a Porsche or such.
Don't get me wrong, it remains an impressive powerhouse of power and pace as I discovered yesterday with great handling and traction thanks to the xDrive all-wheel drive that managed power between front and rear wheels so well.
It just does things a little differently now, I felt. The subtle shifts in handling, ride and response distinguish this new model's tweaking of the mould.
There's no doubt either that the suspension deals better with those sudden, sharp bumps that befall you on many a road.
And you can choose how you want the car set up: the Drive Dynamic Control toggle switch lets you flick between Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Eco Pro modes.
However, the steering was a little vague for my taste. I wanted a greater sense of contact and feedback.
They've increased body stiffness and strength but end up with a motor that is 90kg lighter (first under two tonnes) when you allow for added spec.
Interesting too to see what they've done with the seats. They are designed to reduce vibration, so with the new suspension set-up you're a lot cosier.
It really is a big comfy cabin (you can choose from seven upholstery colours) and those in the back (flat floor) have more room.
The second row splits/folds 40/20/40 and slides 80mm forward if you order an optional third row of seats.
The boot is roomier too (650 litres; back seats folded it's 1,870). You can remotely close the two-section tailgate from the driver's seat and the lower part folds to the same level as the boot floor.
There is 13bhp more in the xDrive30d now (0-100kmh in 6.9 secs) as well as additional pulling power (torque). I got plenty of low-rev muscle.
My version had paddles on the steering wheel and boy did I use them. The 8spd auto box was excellent – the kick-down was instant and smooth – but the paddles transformed the drive for me.
Great engine that 3-litre, quieter now, but I could still hear that great diesel grunt when I hit the down-gears paddle. It's 0.7 seconds faster to 100kmh and emits 33 fewer grammes of CO2.
It gets here in November but let's see what Ireland makes of the rear-wheel-drive 2-litre sDrive25d (218bhp, 149 g/km) in December – at €67,000 or so it has got to be the biggie? Yes? No?
Without a doubt the mould has most certainly NOT been broken with the new X5 but it sure has been reshaped substantially – not least by that dramatic lowering of the entry price.
BMW X5 The line-up and prices
Model OTR* bhp 0-100km mpg CO2
xDrive30dSE €79,450 258 6.9 45.6 162
xDrive30d M Sport €87,310 258 6.9 45.6 164
M50d €109,630 381 5.3 42.2 177
xDrive50i SE €110,720 449 5 27.2 242
xDrive50i M Sport €118,050 449 5 26.9 244
* On the road; includes delivery and related charges
Due in December
Rear-wheel-drive 2-litre sDrive25d (218bhp, 149 g/km), around €67,000. Also xDrive40d, xDrive35i and xDrive25d.