BMW X5 xDrive30d

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The first BMW X5 launched almost 20 years ago and has sold over 2,2 million SAVs.

Our butch test unit caused some fluttering eyelashes with its deadly looking off-road package that was clearly more than just window dressing. Ample ground clearance, short overhangs, two-axle adjustable air suspension, off-road tyres and an electronically controlled rear differential lock means only the toughest can follow. The Off-Road package offers four driving modes, namely Sand, Rock, Gravel and Snow. You can also change the ride height, the xDrive system, accelerator response and transmission control.

Electrically adjustable and heated sports seats are standard and four-zone air conditioning maximises comfort. A massive panoramic glass roof can have optional ambient lighting with LED lights spreading across the glass surface to create the effect of a starlit sky. If you wish to raise the roof, 20 speakers and 1 500-watt output obliges willingly.

The punchy six-cylinder in-line twin turbo diesel engine teamed to perfection with a divine 8-speed Steptronic transmission and all-wheel grip is phenomenal wherever you dare. Torque is split faster and more precisely between the front and rear wheels and full power can be sent to the rear wheels when all-wheel drive is unnecessary. Should you adopt a particularly dynamic style at the wheel, a rear-biased set-up occurs which makes twisty roads irresistible.

The 2-axle air suspension system with automatic self-levelling, controls each wheel individually, using an electrically driven compressor with a pressure reservoir, to balance an unevenly loaded vehicle. This harmonises with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, so the vehicle load registered by its sensors can be factored into braking calculations. Ride height reduces by 20mm if the SPORT driving mode is engaged or the vehicle’s speed exceeds 138 km/h. It can also be increased for off-road driving by up to 40mm. A loading mode lowers the vehicle by 40mm and can be set with the engine switched off.

Reversing Assist is unique to BMW and assists manoeuvring in a confined area by taking over steering to reverse the vehicle along a path recently negotiated forwards. An incredible mind-boggling experience!

All-round visibility is superb, thanks to the rear-view camera and the Top View, Panorama View and 3D View functions of Parking Assistant Plus, which create a 360-degree image of the vehicle and its surroundings in the Control Display. Use your smartphone to see the live Remote 3D View feature of your car and surroundings.

The BMW Live Cockpit Professional combines a new display and control concept and the intuitive multimodal interaction between driver and vehicle has been refined allowing a choice between touch control using the Control Display, the familiar iDrive Touch Controller, the controls on the steering wheel, voice control or BMW gesture control, depending on the situation at hand.

Intelligent connectivity capabilities use a built-in SIM card with unlimited data allowance to provide access to vehicle apps and Emergency Call automatically summons swift assistance.

BMW Connected is the digital and personal mobility assistant for drivers that seamlessly connects smartphones and digital devices.

A Digital Key uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to allow the vehicle to be locked and unlocked with up to 5 different smartphones. Once your phone has been placed in the Wireless Charging tray, you can start the engine. Mercedes and BMW are leading the quantum leaping technology race for now. I think, Volvo was ahead two years ago. Thanks to this, race cars have never evolved this fast. Keeping up can be challenging financially, though.

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