The BMW X5 has been one of the most successful products from the German luxury car manufacturer across the globe. While BMW added the M-badge and upped the performance of the SUV some time ago throughout the world, it was only recently that they launched the X5M in India. And what better place to test drive a car with so much power than a race track? We drove the BMW X5M at the Madras Motor Race Track and here's our first drive review of the X5M.
It's really hard to differentiate the X5M from the regular X5 SUV, and the basic silhouette of the car is the same. A closer look onto the vehicle will make you realize the differences in the X5M, be it a puny X5M badge on the front right grille, a chrome induced inverted 'L' shaped air scoop on both the sides or a big X5M moniker at the rear. In the overall appearance, the SUV looks macho, with stretched-out dual projector headlights and big squarish air scoops in the front, alloy wheels on the side, along with aerodynamically designed ORVMs, and twin pipe dual exhaust at the rear.
Step into the cabin and you will be welcomed by a tan brown leather finished cabin that looks dynamic and sporty, yet luxurious enough. The seats are high set with excellent lumbar, under thigh and side support, which holds you well while pushing the car around the car, a must have feature considering the body roll that comes with an SUV. The central console comes with all the necessary features, and looks similar to any other BMW car, with a big screen on the dash, trademark BMW gearshift and rotary iDrive control knob. The rear seats, like the front seats, are comfortable enough, but what's the point of seating at the rear while you are in an M-powered car? Another interesting feature is the collapsible boot seal that helps you put the luggage with ease.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
Leaving everything aside, this is the reason one buys an M-Series vehicle. The X5M launched in India is the second generation X5M and is powered by a mammoth 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that produces an exhilarating 567 horses, a good 12 hp rise over the previous generation model. A noteworthy mention here would be that the X5M weighs some 2.5 tonnes, and not for a second does this body overpowers the engine. Infact, the power is enough to push the car from 0-100kmph in 4.2 seconds, as claimed by BMW.
As soon as we pushed the throttle, we never got a feeling that we are sitting in a tank like SUV, which is bulky and heavy on the outside. Combined with the new eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox with paddle shifters for manual selection, the X5M makes your eyes wide open. Though, we have to admit that, it took us a while to learn how to use the awkward gearshift, when shifting from automatic to manual. BMW has tuned the automatic gearbox for performance and the gears shift late, reaching close to peak rpm most of the time.
Ride and Handling
While putting a chunky engine in an SUV is a task in itself, it's the handling and ride dynamics that create a lot of trouble. The reason is simple - the centre of gravity. SUVs have a tall stance, and hence they have a lot of body roll, making it tough for anyone to push it around the corners. Then you demand a performance like 0-100kmph in 4.2 seconds from a monster like SUV.
But, BMW engineers have done a very good job in considering all these problems and gave us an SUV that will surprise you with its handling. Throw it to any abrupt steering angle and push it to any limit, the BMW X5M will prove a worthy handler, giving you confidence at every single harsh turn, and once you let go the initial inhibition, you will forget that it's an SUV after all.
BMW credits the outcome to the xDrive and Dynamic Performance Control system. The steering is nimble most of the time and this keeps the tyres on the ground while on a corner at 100 kmph. But this suspension setting can not be used in the city driving, else you will feel the smallest of bumps. For that, you can choose the suspension settings among the comfort, sports and sports+ mode.
Safety and Features
Seat belt pre-tensioners, ABS, EBD, TCS and all the necessary safety equipments are there in the BMW X5M. As for the features, the BMW X5M comes fully loaded with automatic climate control, iDrive and suspension system settings. The steering wheel can be adjusted both for the rake and the reach, while the seats are power adjustable, along with under thigh support extension.
The BMW X5M stuck to us as the jack of all trades - it is an SUV that performs like a race car and has a luxurious cabin. It's a real task to derive a 0-100kmph in 4.2 seconds kind of performance from a 2.5-tonne machine and the engineers at BMW has done it rather neatly. If you can afford it, you will get a daily purpose machine that can be taken to a race track for the weekend fun!