X5 replacement is fast-tracked to bolster segment and ward off competitors
There's not a lot that can be kept hidden about upcoming new models in the motoring world these days. Yet the announcement that the X5 would be replaced before the year was out certainly raised a few eyebrows. BMW's original X5 'SAV' or SUV to the rest of us, arrived in 2000 and each subsequent generation has followed a 7-year product lifecycle, one that is adhered to across most of the high-volume models in BMW's range. So why the truncated 5-year lifespan for the current F15 X5 then?
The answer lies in a combination of increased competition in the segment as well as a concerted push to renew and expand the range of SUV offerings in BMW's portfolio. Whereas the original X5 only had the Mercedes ML to compete with, the marketplace today is filled with strong competitors from just about every major and minor manufacturer. BMW was so keen to get going on the replacement that it decided to reveal details about the car ahead of its October premiere in Paris. The Sports Activity Vehicle tag really needs to live up to its promise in the fourth-generation X5 to better help it differentiate itself from cars like the new Porsche Cayenne.
That car has generally been trading the 'most dynamic SUV' trophy with the X5 since it arrived in 2003. The latest Cayenne has moved the goalposts even further and while the 567 hp of the current X5M bests the Cayenne Turbo's 541-hp effort, the Turbo S E-Hybrid promises up to 671 hp. Engine options for the fourth-generation 2019 model will start off with the familiar 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six in the xDrive40i. Producing 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque it should be more than enough for most customers. The growly twin-turbo V8 in the current xDrive50i will also be on offer. With 465 hp and 479 lb-ft it will have to do until the X5 M arrives in a couple of years.
We can also expect at least one turbo diesel option and a plug-in hybrid to replace the existing xDrive35d and xDrive40e iPerformance models. It's not all about straight-line acceleration though as practicality has always been a strong point in this class. While the lower-rung X1 and coupe-profiled X2 take care of the needs of smaller families and couples, the X5 has always been the go-to for those wanting the most seating and cargo space. The recently launched X3 has received rave reviews for its combination of modern technologies and spacious interior, thanks in part due to dimensions that are now almost the same as the original X5's were.
The latest X5 has also grown in size of course, it is now 2.6 inches wider and 1.1 inches longer. It also offers a three-seat option, something not offered on the X3, and will be on the options list from December this year. When compared to its direct predecessor, stylistically speaking at least, the X5 looks to be more of an evolution than revolution. That is not necessarily a bad thing although those huge kidney grilles may take a bit of time to get used to. The taillights are also significantly updated, more in line with the renewed X-models, they are now narrower and longer. The headlights are now adaptive LED units as standard and the swage lines running along the flanks are more pronounced.
Looks are a subjective thing but the advances in technology and luxury have been measurably improved. An integral active steering system, dynamic damper control, updated rear-biased xDrive system and active roll stabilization further contribute to the dynamic abilities of the X5. Some of the comprehensive list of standard and optional equipment includes Laserlight headlights, active air flaps for increased efficiency and a Driving Assistant Professional package which incorporates steering, lane, speed and traffic jam assistance systems.
In line with the strong focus on self-driving systems an improved autonomous parking assistant will also be available and the X5 will feature level 2 autonomy as found on the latest 7-series. This means that the car will be essentially self-driving as long as the driver keeps their hands on the steering-wheel. Safety systems will now include an Emergency Stop Assistant which can brake the vehicle and steer it to the side of the road if required. A third-generation Head Up Display now displays more information and BMW's latest Live Cockpit Professional system will be standard fitment. It comprises of two 12.3-inch displays which can be controlled via voice, touch, gesture or the iDrive touch controller.
Wireless phone charging, remote starting and vehicle access via smartphone add to the modern conveniences and your skinny flat white can be kept at the optimum temperature in the cooled and heated front cupholders. Luxury has also taken a big step forward too, an automatic split tailgate, electric luggage compartment cover and optional ambient lighting with six colors move the X5 further upmarket. A Panoramic glass sunroof with a larger glass surface now incorporates over 15,000 illuminated graphic patterns which you can admire as you listen to the optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System.
A 10.3-inch rear touchscreen will be on offer to keep back seat drivers entertained while the occupants up front can enjoy new options like the massaging seats and heated armrests. There is now also an all-new off-road package that makes the X5 more capable when tackling challenging terrain. It does not just comprise of a set of all-terrain tires and a pat on the back either. The package includes driver-selectable off-road modes, a bespoke xDrive and transmission setup, two-axle air suspension for increased comfort and ground clearance, an underbody guard and an off-road specific differential lock.
It is unclear whether a set of proper off-road tires will also be available but it will be very interesting to see how an X5 fitted with this package will fare against more off-road biased rivals such as the Range Rover Discovery. In conclusion then, the upcoming X5 has received a mild exterior update and a rather more thorough under-the-skin one. It is now more in line with the rest of the updated X range too. Incorporating the latest safety and technological systems on offer from the BMW Group, the X5 will be perfectly positioned to fend off its challengers when it officially goes on sale in November this year.