Stepping-stone hot SUV occupies absent X5 M’s niche – for now
The BMW X5 M50d is proof that, in spite of what your primary school teacher told you all those years ago, four into six does in fact go. In fact, when four turbochargers are forcing hot air into the six inline cylinders of the BMW X5 M50d’s diesel engine, there is much that seems to go – and go really rather well.
This is the M Performance ‘caretaker boss’ of Munich’s new fourth-generation X5 range, all set to take charge of the big SUV line-up until M division lets loose another X5 M wide boy. It’s pretty wide itself, mind you, the ‘G05’-generation X5 having put on just over 60mm in overall width and now taking up more side-to-side lane space than even the new X7.
On the spec sheet the M50d engine only makes about 100lb ft more than an X5 30d’s straight six, but on the road it feels like it has a much bigger relative advantage. The M50d’s real-world performance level falls somewhere between ‘brisk’ and ‘very fast’. It’s got pretty brutish thrust between 2000 and 3500rpm but doesn’t take off with the abandon of an equivalent performance V8 petrol engine thereafter – although, at least by diesel engine standards, it’s a remarkably free-revving unit.
The M50d is the only X5 in the new range to come on adaptively damped steel coil suspension as standard. Air suspension is an option, but only the coils can be combined with both active anti-roll bars and ‘integral active’ four-wheel steering, with which our test car had been specified.
Looming 22in alloy wheels come as standard, and they do thump and thud a bit over sharper edges. In tighter bends the X5 M50d corners really keenly, particularly so should you need to dial in extra off-centre steering angle in the middle of a corner. But it much prefers smoother surfaces to uneven ones – sequences of bigger bumps are dealt with in a restless, reactive fashion in this large 4×4’s sportier driving modes.
There is certainly a place on the performance SUV class’s Venn diagram for the X5 M50d. It’s pacey yet undemanding to drive and offers 30mpg real-world fuel efficiency and vigorous handling – and yet , even at it’s best, I suspect it’s a car that would leave a really keen driver wanting more.
Engine 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, diesel
Power 395bhp at 4400rpm
Torque 561lb ft at 2000-3000rpm
Gearbox 7-spd automatic
Kerb weight 2275kg
Top speed 155mph (governed)
CO2, tax band 179g/km, 37%
Rivals Audi SQ7, Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid