Nearly all of the car blogs I read get updated each day (apart from weekends maybe), and usually there is a post about some new model; whether it be a new launch, a refresh, a facelift or merely a new trim level to lure in unsuspecting customers, all are news worthy to a degree and I try to give them a moment of my attention. There are some days though that are bigger than others, and today has been one of those days…yes ladies and gentlemen the new BMW X5 has officially been unveiled!
Well I say unveiled, but effectively all that has happened is that official pictures of the car have been issued by BMW…a few of these pictures were leaked months back so what has been shown is not a massive surprise, and nor is it massively pleasing for me. Any new BMW or SUV is big news for me but the X5 in particular has a special place in my heart, not least because the car is currently the front-runner in my search for a new car. In fact the second generation car is even my favourite potential car to replace the one I have not yet bought, so you can see why this third generation is of special interest.
For anyone who needs a refresh on the history of the X5, well the original was launched in 1999 and was built on the 5 Series saloon platform. Marketed as an SAV (Activity rather than Utility), the car won critical acclaim for its car-like handling and powerful engines. This E53 model was facelifted in late 2003 and in 2007 the E70 model replaced it; larger inside and out and more sophisticated, the current X5 really grew on me after a couple of years and also saw the launch of an ‘M’ version and the X6 coupe-esque sister model.
The new model is an evolution of the second generation in almost all ways, and encompasses lots of new BMW design cues such as an enlarged kidney grille, headlights that merge with said grille and an upright LCD infotainment screen inside. There is still the option of 2 rear seats hidden in the boot and although I’ve not seen pictures I would guess that the split tailgate remains. Big changes have happened under the bonnet too…for the first time ever there is a 2WD version of the X5 being offered, and also a 4 cylinder diesel! The small diesel should return over 50mpg and is joined by a 6 cylinder diesel in three states of tune, plus 6 cylinder and V8 petrol engines. All of these will no doubt be miraculously clean, fast and will help the car to handle much like a slightly heavier saloon car…after it all it has lost a lot of weight.
Why don’t I like it then? Well I guess it’s more that I am reserving judgement until I see more pictures or one in the metal. The shots that I have seen show a car that is very similar to the current model, but with some aggressiveness and squat-tish shape replaced by a taller model more similar to the updated Mercedes ML. The larger grille does suit the character of the car, but the massive headlamps are a little too much like the smaller X1, as is the smaller glass space and overall it looks more compact; something which may appeal to some buyers but not to me. Inside is completely fine, but I’d have liked to have seen BMW take a few more risks, or at least made it bigger in the rear as I suspect that the extra 6th and 7th seats are likely to be as tiny and cramped as ever.
It’s been a long time since BMW has missed the mark with one of it’s new models (even the X6 sells pretty well!), and I doubt very much that buyers will stop buying X5s because they look a little softer…hopefully with the right wheel and colour combinations it will look better, but as things stand the only one of this new wave of luxury SUVs that appeals is the new Range Rover Sport!