X5 Hybrid maintains high standards
After seeing so many companies enter the SUV market, BMW decided to give it a go in 1999 when it launched the X5. It featured an all-wheel-drive system and a luxurious interior that lived up to its sedan standards. In typical German fashion, the model has rarely changed in design and is now in its fourth generation, 20 years later.
Exterior-wise, the X5 45e M Sport Hybrid still has a commanding presence, with a body that sits broadly on the road. The front grille is now more pronounced than ever, with chrome horizontal lines, making it impossible to miss from any angle. The bonnet has a clamshell-type design, with two character lines that run from the windshield to the front facia.
The headlights are slimmer and sharper than the previous model and give the vehicle a very assertive appearance. They also feature BMW Laserlight technology, which is a unique X design that illuminates a range of up to 500 metres, nearly twice as far as that of conventional headlights. This design theme continues with the imposing aerodynamic vents in the front bumper, which are built with functionality in mind.
Around the back are bold taillights with a textured design as they slightly protrude from the sheet metal. Down the bottom is a twin exhaust system, complemented by 21” rims.
The overall silhouette is consistent with the previous model, which represents an organic advancement that is in keeping with what the market has come to love.
FIT FOR ROYALTY
Inside, the vehicle exudes luxury with soft leather, layered over most surfaces, and selected accents have a deep-black piano finish. The craftsmanship throughout pays a lot of attention to details as the finished product emanates style and elegance. As customary for German manufactures, much of the interior accents can be customised and changed for the liking of the owner.
The vehicle now has a digital custer called BMW Live Cockpit and has a 12.3 – inch IDrive infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard. Below this are the A/C vents, which have a small screen in between them to show the temperature. The vents are outlined by a hexagonal chrome accent, which is also used throughout the interior.
The greatest comfort comes from sitting on the voluminous leather seats, which have never ceased to impress me. They are multifunctional with lumbar support, and the base can be extended for thigh support. The position of the seats can also be programmed as a standard feature. What is most important is the fact that they give a snugg feeling, especially due to the side bolsters, which makes driving on long journeys a pleasure.
Everything is slightly angled towards the driver, from the info screen to the centre console, which houses the IDrive rotary knob. This knob is one of the many input options for the entertainment system. Now, the vehicle comes with gesture controls, which I used when playing music to pause, skip tracks, and turn up the volume.
THE DRIVING COMFORT
When most persons hear the term ‘hybrid’, they think they will have to compromise on power, but this is not the case with this turbocharged engine. From a visual perspective, the batteries are carried under the floor and within the wheelbase, so the image of the vehicle is not altered. Now back to the performance. There are four main driving modes to choose from - Sport, Electric, Hybrid, and Adaptive – and hidden away in the submenu is Sport Individual mode. Most persons are going to leave the vehicle in Adaptive mode, which allows the SUV to switch powertrain from electric to combustion mode based on road condition and driving style.
The batteries were empty when I got it, so I went back to the dealership and recharged them to 75%, and this gave me a driving distance of 42km, on battery alone. In electric mode, the vehicle is extremely quiet, and the power comes on convincingly. Keep in mind that if the vehicle is driven aggressively, the batteries will run down faster.
When switching over to Sports mode, the suspension is altered, and the steering wheel is stiffened for better control. This is when the beast comes alive as it rapidly responds to the slightest touch of the accelerator. The eight-speed transmission does not disappoint as it works seamlessly with the turbocharged engine.
All in all, the X5 lives up to its reputation as it gives one of the best blends between luxury and sport. In addition, the hybrid can function without too much compromise on power.
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Price of tested model: $17.5m
Price Range/ Options: $17.m - $20m
Engine: 3.0 L, 6 Cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo Engine.
Power: 389bhp (total output)
Torque: 442lb ft (total output)
Transmission: xDrive refers to BMW All-Wheel Drive system.
Fuel tank: 69 litres
Body type: mid-size luxury SUV
Competition: Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q8
Curb weight: 5,450lb
Cooling/warming system for cup holders
Vehicle provided by ATL Autobahn, 38-42 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston 5