Singapore — Talk about a wolf in elephant’s clothing. With all wheel drive, a tall ride height and rugged, chunky styling, the new BMW X5 looks like something that would laugh at muddy terrain.
But if you drove it deep into the jungle, you probably wouldn’t make it back out, because the X5 xDrive50i drives like a sports car on stilts.
Much of that is down to its turbocharged V8 engine, which propels more than 2.2 tonnes of X5 with breath-taking ease, the way Thor makes that hefty hammer of his seem like a toy.
The V8 rumbles like distant thunder and is one of those rare engines that make you turn the sound system down so you can hear more of it.
Around corners, the X5 uses clever tech to help it stay on track — for instance, its transmission can divert engine power to the car’s left wheels to sharpen right turns, and vice versa.
The result is a car that could trouble a proper sports coupe through a twisty road, at least up to a point. Though its xDrive all wheel drive system gives it plenty of traction for exiting corners, it doesn’t really help the X5 dive into them, so eventually the car’s weight makes itself felt.
Still, you might like the X5 for other reasons, like the fact that it is BMW’s only seven-seater. Upsized from the last model, this new version has an enormous cabin and adults fit easily into the two small seats that can pop up out of the boot’s floor. There’s even a small air-con vent for them.
With the seats stowed, the X5 has 650 litres of boot space. Drop the middle row of chairs and you get 1,870 litres, 120 litres more than before.
This helps the X5 to hit a sweet spot in the market. It’s more practical than Porsche’s Cayenne, and better to drive than Land Rover’s Discovery 4.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. Some of the plastics are surprisingly cheap, and the air-conditioning has an annoying habit of freezing your hands if you try to direct cold air at your face.
And if you even glance at the accelerator pedal the wrong way, you’ll find out just how thirsty a big, turbocharged V8 can be.
Perhaps the better model to consider is the diesel-powered xDrive30d, which is slower to 100kmh by 1.9 seconds but uses only 59 per cent of the fuel on average. It’s also cheaper by S$91,000.
As for the X5 xDrive50i, its S$474,800 price tag isn’t for the faint-hearted. But at least the money buys you many cars in one. Leow Ju-Len
BMW X5 xDrive50i
Engine: 4,395cc twin-turbo V8, 450hp & 650Nm
Performance: 250kmh, 0-100kmh 5.0 seconds, 10.5L/100km, 244g/km CO2
Price: S$474,800 with COE