BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Launch Review

BMW all new X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Overview

BMW has launched its latest X5 large SUV, the fourth generation of the model that first came to Australia in 2001.

The X5 has led the sales in the large premium SUV segment for more than a decade and the third generation, that was released in 2013, achieved sustained sale levels.  The new X5 was released in November 2018 at a time when sales of the model were significantly in decline.  This could represent buyers waiting for the new model and the entire large SUV selling with a price over $70,000 is down 16.4% for the year so it is clearly a challenging market situation.

2018 COTY BMW X5

For the whole of 2018 X5 sales were down 24.6% but December sales were up by 20% compared to the previous year so it appears as though the new model is making an impact.

Being slightly bigger, a little more aggressive in its looks, continued improvements in the engines, suspension and drive train, better communication of information to the driver and a number of ways the owner can adapt the car to suit their needs, BMW is showing leadership in providing a vehicle that pushes the envelope of design and technology.

Nearly 60% of BMWs sold in Australia, so far this year, are SUVs with their X3 being its top selling vehicle.  Prestige car manufactures know that SUVs are a critical part of their fleets and the X5 is the latest upgrade in BMW’s arsenal.

The new X5 comes in two models the xDrive30d and the X5 M50d.

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Exterior

The SUV market has been embraced by a significant number of vehicles that are aimed at the “kids taxi role” and they have looks to do with it: rounded and plain.  Recently, though, a number of manufacturers are striving to get back a big of aggression and toughness in their  looks.

The new X5 takes up this trend by making some sharp lines and creases to the outside of the vehicle.  Its hard to notice at a distance but it makes a statement closer up.

The vehicle is a little higher (19mm) and longer than the previous model with the wheelbase increasing by 42mm.

The grille is bigger and in one piece and there are sharper lines around the adaptive LED headlights.  Behind the grille is an Active Air Stream to stop the flow of air from outside the vehicle when the engine is cold.

There’s a chamfered effect across the top of the wheel arches, front and rear, so as to give a squarer look.

2018 COTY BMW X5

There is a more distinctive character line down the sides of the car which moves up in an S shape towards the rear of the car to give a powerful stance.

The rear lights are slenderer than the outgoing model with a three-dimensional effect and cut away into the body of the car.  To add to the aggressive look there are large exterior tailpipe finishes on the dual system in a trapezoid shape.

The rear tail gate in now split in two with both the upper and lower sections are electronically controlled.

The x30d with 20″ light alloy wheels with a V-spoke style and bicolour ferric grey colouring the car is clearly made to look more than just passenger transport for the family.

Overall the car is better looking, It has a number of BMW family identifying aspects but it is still based on a body that does create an individuality that some other SUVs achieve.

If you step up to the M50d things start to look a bit more performance oriented. Additional exterior features include:

  • 22” M light alloy wheels V-spoke style with M Bicolour Cerium Grey
  • BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line
  • BMW Individual roof rails
  • M Aerodynamics package
  • M Performance exterior design elements in Cerium Grey
  • Metallic Paint

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Interior

The interior of the car looks professional and give a strong prestige ambience. The overall design flows smoothly without any feature looking like a tack-on.

There is a 12.3” instrument display and high resolution (1920×1080) 12.3” Control Display with 20 GB hard drive storage including a split screen function and touch display.

The interaction with the driver is excellent with the iDrive touch Controller in the centre console down by the steering wheel, which has improved markedly over the years while the voice control works with a naturalness rather than the artificial interaction that is common in some other cars.

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW adds Gesture Control so that you can wave your hands in certain ways to activate controls rather than have to take your eyes off the road to find the right button to push or twist.

One feature that I think is an indication of the future and a very valuable component to reduce driver frustration, is that some of the controls can be personalised so that you can have the ones you use the most accessible the easy possible way.

Ryan Begg the product manager from BMW Australia for the BMW X5 spoke about the approach for the interface between the driver and the vehicle information and controls.

We’ve focused a lot more on personalization and customization but also a lot more user interface and usability from a customer perspective.  We’ve got new things inside the system such as enhanced touch functionality through the control display, so it becomes a lot more intuitive for the customer to interact with. We’ve got new information systems such as natural voice control which has also been enhanced for the X5 and we also have gesture control as standard as well.  You can change songs, receive telephone calls and do certain functions inside the car without actually having to touch anything.

2018 COTY BMW X5

You can tailor the ambient interior lighting with 6 pre-defined selectable light designs including the welcome Light, carpet and dynamic contour lighting.

The air conditioning is climate control with 2.5-zone control, with Automatic recirculated air control (AUC), microfilter, active carbon filter and solar/fogging sensor.

There are two design packages the X-Line and the M Sport package and three leather seat options two of which are designed as “Comfort seats”.  I found these did not hold you very well from slipping sideways and if you enjoy driving in a spirted fashion, I would always opt for the Sport Seat that holds you more firmly.

All the X5s come with a panorama glass sunroof.

2018 COTY BMW X5

The boot space remains the same at 650 Litres with seats folded up; 1,870 with seats folded down; and 40:20:40 split rear seats.  The extra interior space has been given to the occupants.

Stepping up to the M50d and you get:

  • BMW Individual headliner anthracite
  • Door sill finishers with ‘M50d’ designation, front
  • BMW Individual instrument panel finished in leather
  • Interior trim finishers Aluminium Tetragon
  • M Leather steering wheel
  • Automatic air conditioning with 4-zone control  Lumbar support for driver and front passenger
  • Seat heating for driver and front passenger
  • harman/kardon Surround Sound system, 16 loudspeakers, 464W digital amplifier

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Features


Being a BMW, there is no shortage of features which include:

  • Hill Descent Control (HDC) with electromechanical parking brake
  • Emergency spare wheel
  • Head-Up Display
  • Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go function,
  • Cross traffic warning on the front & rear,
  • Steering & Lane Control Assistant,
  • Lane keeping assistant with Side Collision Warning,
  • Crossroads warning and Evasion Aid
  • Active Park Distance Control (PDC) rear,
  • Reversing Assistant,
  • Surround View,
  • Panorama View and 3D View
  • Speed Limiter
  • Speed Limit Information

One significant new feature is that if you drive forwards, slowly, into an area, the car will remember the steering movements for the last 50 m.  To back-out your only have to control the accelerator and brake while the car duplicates the steering movements in the reverse direction.  Fantastic if you have a difficult driveway or you have entered an unfamiliar area.

There has been an increase in the number of things car manufacturers are getting cars to do automatically.  These can be helpful or at times they can be annoying.  Given the increasing capability of our computing systems there is more room for you to adapt the car to suit your needs and idiosyncrasies. On the new X5 you can program things ranging from the amount of steering assistance you get if you wander from your lane, right down to the tailgate button on your key fob: do you want to just unlock and raise the back tailgate or unlock the doors as well.

The M50d gives a few additional things including:

M Sport brakes, blue painted brake callipers with ‘M’ designation

BMW Laserlight including BMW Selective Beam

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Drivetrain and Engine

On the launch we drove the two diesel variants. The base diesel is a 3 litre, straight six, single turbo producing 195kW and 620Nm and rated at 7.2 l/100km and a 0-100km/hr time of 6.5sec. I think this gives plenty of performance.

But if you are keen to get more grunt, there is the M50D based on the same 3 litre block but with four turbocharges and a few other improvements producing 294kW and 760Nm and rated at 7.5 l/100km with a 0-100km/hr of 5.2sec.

2018 COTY BMW X5

Both models come with:

  • 8-speed sport automatic transmission, Steptronic with gearshift paddles
  • Driving Experience Control: Sport, Comfort and ECO PRO modes
  • Dynamic Damper Control
  • xDrive, permanent all-wheel drive system with fully variable torque split
  • Brake Energy Regeneration
  • Performance control: optimal torque is distributed to the individual wheels depending on the driving situation

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – What is it like to drive

 While the more powerful M50d gives a marvellous surge of power both cars were immensely satisfying to drive. You can overtake with confidence and no hill had any worry for you.

An air suspension is optional and with a very good eight-speed automatic gear box, it tours the open road beautifully with competence, smoothness and quietness even on secondary roads.

At the launch we covered a series of regional roads in the highlands of Australia near Mt Kosciusko. This provided a wonderful environment of roads that twist and flow through some beautiful scenery.

The vehicles stuck to the road very well for an SUV without the suspension making you uncomfortable as a compromise for good handling. They turned into corners with great confidence but not too aggressively in their sharpness. These are certainly cars that offer grand touring in its truest sense even though they are an SUV.

Both vehicles do not show turbo lag including the high performance M50d whose four turbos make instant response possible.

The only thing missing was the sound of a good petrol engine.

The driver assist technology is well developed. I found the lane assist was set to pull you into line quite firmly but it now keeps the car in the middle of a lane.  The old system only reacted when getting close to a lane marker and so you could meander on the road as it first detected one side and then moved to the other.  It also meant you felt uncomfortable when the vehicle came close to the line and was thus near to vehicles in the adjacent lane. This is most disconcerting when

We did take the cars off-road on some well graded dirt sections. This did not suit the road tyres and the cars tended to skate a bit. Nonetheless they did cope with bumps very well.

BMW does offer an off road package. I think of the drive system as being more all-wheel drive that rough and tumble four-wheel drive a thought that is enhanced when you consider the luxury and quality of the finish of the vehicle!

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Dimensions

The size and the increase in dimensions over the previous model are as follows:

Height 1745 mm (+19)

Width 2004 mm (+66)

Length 4922 mm (+36)

Wheel Base 2975 mm (+42)

2018 COTY BMW X5BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Safety

The BMW X5 has been rated as 5 stars in the safety test which were carried out in 2018. This is very credible as the requirements to get five stars have been getting tougher and more comprehensive over the years.

The new X5 has 5 radar sensors; 12 Ultrasonic sensors: and 7 Cameras (or 8 with Night Vision camera). Clearly, they are committed to providing as much help to the driver as possible.

Safety features include:

  • Attentiveness Assistant
  • Airbags for driver and front passenger,
  • head airbags for 1st & 2nd seat row,
  • side airbags with seat occupancy detection for driver’s and passenger side,
  • side impact protection
  •  knee airbag on driver’s side
  • Dynamic braking lights
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC),
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and
  • Dynamic Traction Control (DTC)

The new model adds a number of features that show the development of active and passive safety in modern vehicles:

  • automatic speed limit assist,
  • person and cyclist braking function and an evasion aid
  • Brake-pad wear indicator

If you do have a serious accident the BMW Intelligent Emergency Call TeleServices knows that you have had a crash and will contact you immediately via a phone connection arrangement that has better coverage than your normal smart phone provider.

2018 COTY BMW X5

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Fit for Purpose

As a prestige performance vehicle that is comfortable in urban driving and delightful on the great open road (including some of Australia’s great open roads that are hardly motorway alignment) the BMW X5 is very much fit for that purpose). It strives hard to keep you comfortable and safe. The diesel engines are excellent especially the M50d that will give you as much feeling of power as you need.

Given its price and it luxury features I don’t think the BMW X5 is intended, or will be often used, for rough four wheel driving.

BMW X5 xDrive30d and X5 M50d – Summary

BMW does all the right things with its latest X5 large SUV.  It is slightly bigger, it has great engineering and the technology, especially with the interface between the driver and the vehicle, which continues to improve.  It is very comfortable to drive and add to that the distinctive feature of remembering the way you approach a parking spot and being able to automatically steer you back out, which is clever and very practical and it is the sort of thing that you can show off to your friends

Good Bits

  • Top class diesel engines
  • Improved interface between driver and vehicle
  • More things are now adaptable to your own personal preferences

 Not So Good Bits

  • “Comfort Seats” don’t hold you well
  • Looks are better up close but hard to tell at more than 50metres
  • The long-term costs of technology such as four turbocharges is not known

Others to consider

In 2018 the BMW x5 lead the sales race for 4×4 utilities.  The next best-selling vehicles in the large SUV luxury category are:

Range Rover Sport: $105,400 – $157,500

Lexus RX (Petrol):  $81,040 – $99,500

Land Rover Discovery $84,528 – $125,428

More prestige models in the class include:

Maserati Levante (Diesel versions): $ 139,990 – $ 159,990

Audi Q7 and SQ7: $97,800 – $161,900


ModelBMW X5



Model Price$149,900
Engine6 Cylinder, 3L

iDrive 30d – Single turbo

M50d – Four Turbos

Drivetrain8 Speed Automatic – AWD

8 Speed Sport Sutomatic – AWD

Power195kW @4,000 rpm

294kW@4,400 rpm

Torque620Nm @2,000 – 2,500 rpm

760Nm @2,000 – 3,000 rpm

Safety5 star rating (tested 2018)
CO2177 g/km

198 g/km

Economy ADR6.7 L/100km

7.5 L/100

ServicingVariable unless you buy
Tow Rating2,700 kgs
Tow ball ratingN/A
Warranty3 years unlimited kms
Behind the Wheel9
Fit for Purpose9
Towing Ability7
Off Road Ability7
Ride & Handling9
Value for Money7


Total – 82



BMW does all the right things with its latest X5 large SUV.  It is slightly bigger, it has great engineering and the technology, especially with the interface between the driver and the vehicle, which continues to improve. 

About David Brown 607 Articles
David’s boyhood passion for motor cars did not immediately lead to a professional role in the motor industry. A qualified Civil Engineer he specialised in traffic engineering and transport planning. What followed were various positions including being seconded to a government think-tank for the planning of transport firstly in Sydney and then for the whole of NSW. After working with the NRMA and as a consultant he moved to being an independent writer and commentator on the broader areas of transport and the more specific areas of the cars we drive. His half hour motoring program “Overdrive” has been described as an “informed, humorous and irreverent look at motoring and transport from Australia and overseas”. It is heard on 22 stations across Australia. He does weekly interviews with several ABC radio stations and is also heard on commercial radio in Sydney. David has written for metropolitan and regional newspapers and has presented regular segments on metropolitan and regional television stations. David is also a contributor for AnyAuto