BMW X5 M50d review

19 Oct, 2013 9:00am Tom Phillips

Is the BMW X5 M50d worthy of the company's M badge?


THE M50d’s quick powertrain is wrapped in a practical body. Yet while that’ll appeal to some, it doesn’t have the sharp drive to match its engine thanks to its odd steering, plus weight and size. It’s well kitted out and at its best as a cruiser – if you don’t go for adaptive dampers. Ditch them and you can opt for the third row of seats; but then you may as well buy the £49,985 xDrive30d M Sport.

Right now, the BMW X5 M50d is the only M Performance model in the new BMW X5 line-up. It combines the butch bodykit of the popular M Sport spec you can choose on lesser versions with pace approaching that of the forthcoming range-topping X5 M.

BMW X5 review

While it’s not a fully fledged product of BMW’s M Division, the mighty triple-turbo 3.0-litre diesel is certainly worthy of the badge. 
It develops 740Nm of torque between 2,000-3,000rpm, which makes it extremely flexible – so much so, third gear is all you’ll need on a twisting B-road.

But what you don’t expect is that the maximum 375bhp, which arrives at 4,000rpm, encourages you to explore the higher reaches of the engine, just like a petrol car. This is backed up by a very nicely engineered gurgle that’s somewhere between V8 petrol and large-capacity diesel.

The standard eight-speed auto is extremely smooth, slicing through the ratios on its own, or responding quickly to plastic paddles on the rear of the steering wheel’s spokes. You can’t fault the grip from the four-wheel-drive system and very wide Dunlops fitted to our test car’s optional 20-inch alloys, either.

However, while the powertrain is every bit as impressive as you want from a car with an M badge, despite being a diesel, the M50d doesn’t deliver a sporting drive to match. In the most aggressive Sport+ mode, the steering is overly heavy when you turn into a corner, and then is over-eager to self-centre again on the way out. It feels very artificial and you must make constant tweaks through corners, as if the car’s computers can’t keep up with controlling its mass.

The X5 never has physics on its side. At 2,265kg the M50d is the heaviest car in the range, and even though the optional Adaptive Dynamic suspension (£2,495) keeps the car flat and stable in bends, the big SUV’s response to steering inputs and the torture it dishes out to the brakes don’t encourage you to drive hard. It’s strange, then, to report that the best way to drive this M-badged car is in its Comfort setting. That gives a more forgiving ride, too, and lighter steering that responds more faithfully to your inputs. When you’re cruising the engine quietens, and you won’t be fussed by wind or road noise.

This also leaves you to enjoy the fact that while the cabin’s design is fussy, it’s much plusher and more spacious than the outgoing model’s. BMW’s latest iDrive sets the standard for in-car infotainment and ease of use, too.

Finally, it allows you to ponder the fact that while the M50d can’t match the drive of the Porsche Cayenne Diesel S, it’s more practical and better equipped. Finally, it might not quite have the designer looks of the Range Rover Sport SDV6, but it’s nearly as quick as the pricier 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 Brit.

Disqus - noscript

Just awful looking those under bumper vent would frighten a GUPPY fish ! Interior a bit samey to. LR do it with class not Tonka toy looks

42 mpg? Yeah don't believe it will get even close to that figure, you'll be lucky to get low 30's.

Also £2500 for the Adaptive Dynamic suspension, so you buy the car but if you want it to ride properly you need to shell out a further £2.5k?

On the flip side the performance is pretty epic.

BMW X5 M50d
This is an Intercontinental cruiser - to take on the worst of Roads that Europe (or USA) can throw at it - in Winter or Summer.

What concerns me most is how quickly the X5 M50d will empty its tank whilst cruising at:-
a. 160 kph
b. 175 kph

Then to compare this data with a Range Rover Sport Supercharged.

I could not care less about Fuel consumption per se. What I care about is:-
How many times do I need to refuel the vehicle on a 2000km trip. (Each refuelling stop costs between 10-15 minutes)

I can never forget a little Lancia Fulvia 1.6HF that I once owned (and loved). 7 Gallon Tank and a consumption that dropped to 15mpg @ 110mph.

A cruising range of 110 - 120 miles was toatally inadequate.

Today, I am looking for a Cruising range of 500 miles per Tank.

Why can't you Journalists give more consideration to Range at various (high) cruising speeds.

Everything about this car makes me sad.

Key specs

  • Price: £63,715
  • Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl tri-turbodiesel
  • Power: 375bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-60mph: 5.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 42.2mpg
  • CO2: 177g/km
  • Equipment: 19-inch alloy wheels, climate control, sat-nav, parking sensors, sports seats

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