“Awesome!” is the first word that came to my kids when they saw the Black X5 in the driveway. The test vehicle I had , had a sleek cream interior and silver trimmings together with the sports package, which just enhanced it’s brute 4×4 presence. The sports package adds sportier bumper treatment front and rear, as well as 19 inch rims on the outside, with sports seats and steering wheel completing the interior. The X5 model I had was also loaded with a few other creature comforts, including heads-up display, adaptive xenon lights, navigation, panoramic sunroof, removable towbar, park distance with rear-view camera and electric seats, which added to the overall driving experience.

The engine in this model is a 3l twin turbo diesel unit that makes you and the vehicle believe that it is a sports saloon, especially on acceleration. This, mated with latest generation steptronic gearbox and electronic gear selector, is a match made in heaven. As my son aptly noted, the gear lever looks more like a playstation controller rather than a gear selector. I was initially a bit sceptical as to the user friendliness of this modern gear lever but this soon changed as I began enjoying this almost game-like gearshift.

This vehicle has a few changes from its predecessor, noticeably very different from the outside. It appears to be much more chunkier, yet surprisingly looks smaller. It also now has the option of an extra two seats in the boot, i.e. making it a seven seater. The dashboard and interior layout is typical BMW, so all you BMW drivers will feel right at home.

On the safety side the vehicle has all the features to which we have become accustomed, but there were a few unique additions that the BMW engineers have come up with, namely the heads up display. This is a display that is reflected on the windscreen in front of the driver. This enables the driver to look at the road at all times, without looking at the dashboard, as the speed and navigation are displayed on the windscreen together with any warnings of which the driver needs to be made aware. It is a feature that I wish all cars had. The wrap- around headlights are lights that turn as the steering wheel turns, enabling you to see more in the direction that you are going, i.e. around the bend. Initially I thought this was just a gimmick, but later when I drove my own vehicle did I realise how much it actually helps.

On the road this vehicle drives very much like a car, and also corners like one as well, considering that it’s a 4X4. BMW has also managed to reduce the body roll on bends, which was the biggest drawback to its predecessor. The vehicle has a sport button behind the gearshift, which changes the way the vehicle rides, by making the suspension stiffer and more responsive to the road conditions. Finding the perfect driving position was extremely easy with the electrically adjustable seats and steering wheel. This car is definitely made for one that enjoys the open road. The vehicle looks great, drives like a bat out of hell and is safe, and it is a 4×4 so it can also do gravel and limited off-road. I guess that makes it a perfect family/recreational vehicle. However, there are a few drawbacks, namely the price, the national speed limit and most of all is that I do not have one parked in my garage. I have to admit, this vehicle did encompass all of that BMW stands for, especially “Sheer driving pleasure”.

Car courtesy of BMW SA. For more info go to www.bmw.co.za.

Azim Omar CA(SA).