2014 BMW X5 40d (2014) Review

X5

The BMW X5 40d sits plumb in the middle of the X5 range and as a whole the X5 is now into its third generation. It has evolved impressively from an Estate substitute to a key figure in BMW’s world domination plans. This latest X5 at first glance looks like a pure evolution of its predecessor, hoping to succeed on the coattails of its past success. We got behind the wheel for a week and sought to find out for ourselves how BMW’s latest luxury SUV copes.

It’s all in the Details

Whilst the X5 initially doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor when you get down the details of it, the small changes do a great job of modernising the overall package. The headlights for instance have a new sleeker, angrier design which gives the X5 a less gormless and more aggressive demeanour. The slightly curvier waist line optically lowers the centre of gravity and it appears less top heavy. Small touches like these have improved the X5’s design without stretching too far into the unknown.

Twin Turbo

This BMW X5 40d is equipped with the middle specification power output of the 3-litre straight-six twin-turbo diesel engine. When I say middle, that’s not to say it’s down on power, or torque for that matter. 230 kW and 630 Nm is plenty, no matter how much weight you’re trying to tow around.

Zero to 100kph takes just 5.9 seconds and is backed up by a throaty engine note that doesn’t sound much like a clattery diesel. You don’t even have to feel guilty about the excessive power either as thanks to BMW’s eight-speed automatic gearbox, the X5 40d drinks at a claimed rate of 6.2l/100km. The surplus of lowdown torque means the X5 can shift continuously at low RPM without bogging down which, results in decreased fuel consumption.

Lap of Luxury

The luxury SUV segment is not short of competitors building lavish interiors worthy of a room in a Sol Kerzner hotel. BMW’s X5 is ensconced in leather from top to toe, even the third row of seats, which spend most of their life folded into the floor are leather. Rear passengers are also treated to 9.5-inch screens built into the front headrests, capable of many things including playing DVDs, TV, radio or the Internet through the stand alone rear entertainment system.

The rear loading space holds 650-litres and that sounds like a lot but is a bit down on competitors like the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz ML. The driver’s seat is the best place to sit though, the X5 is kitted to the hills and back. Safety seems to be the primary concern as systems in place range from radar detection of pedestrians and animals in the dark to lane departure warning, bird’s eye view parking assistant and anti-dazzle high beam assist. Watch how good BMW's parking assistance is here.

Our BMW X5 40d was fitted with a Bang and Olufsen high end sound system. This is an absolute must for any music connoisseur as the 16-speakers littered throughout the cabin provide the most crisp and pitch perfect sound I’ve ever heard.

Drive

There was never going to be many complaints about the X5’s drive and road prowess. The X5’s on road talent is impressive, it soaks up bumps, holes and manhole covers superbly, conveying a supremely comfortable yet subtle ride. There’s no excessive lean in the corners and you can get a move on with confidence nothing underneath you is going to surprise.

It is quite a heavy beast at two-tonnes and most of that weight feels like it’s on the nose of the X5, emergency turns and manoeuvres do tend to force the front end to dive and results in quite nasty understeer.

Final Thoughts

The new BMW X5 40d has improved the breed, the looks are sharper and more modern, the diesel engine is an absolute pearl and the package handles well. It has strong competition from rivals that have relatively new models in the Range Rover Sport and the Porsche Cayenne. You can’t forget the Mercedes-Benz ML either. The X5 seems to find middle ground in all of them without necessarily trumping any of them. It’s the Jack of all trades SUV and likely to be the default choice for consumers looking for a strong value proposition in the luxury SUV market.

Second Opinion

The BMW X5 40d is a vehicle you want to splash out for. With an assortment of engines and spec to choose from, you really can't go wrong. I do feel the 40d bridges the gap between the flawless and pick-of-the-range 30d and the monstrous M50d, which offers incredible performance. I'm happy to report 'our' X5 sipped diesel at 9l/100km and was a lovely vehicle for four people to make a Winelands weekend excursion.-David Taylor

 BMW X5 40d quick specs

Price  R986 000
Engine  3-litre 6-cylinder twin-turbodiesel
Power  230 kW
Torque  630 Nm
Transmission  Eight-speed Automatic
Wheels  19-inch alloys
0-100km/h  5.9 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  6.2 l/100 km (claimed)
We like: . Evolutionary design . Spectacular performance with impressive fuel economy . On road ability defies size and weight

We dislike: . Overseas models get more tech . Less load space than rivals

Also consider: Porsche Cayenne Range Rover Sport Mercedes-Benz ML

Comments