BMW’s bonkers new performance SUV
BMW's X5 M Competition is faster than any SUV needs to be.
Powered by a thumping V8, the new BMW X5 M serves up 460kW of thrust when required. That's more grunt than a V8 Supercar, more than its Mercedes-AMG arch rival, Porsche's Cayenne Turbo or Audi's RS Q8 super-SUV.
Bragging rights are the point. How you use it is another point entirely.
The German brand claims its latest wagon is good for a 3.8-second dash to 100km/h and a top speed of 290km/h. This is the same 4.4-litre engine found in the range-topping BMW M8, and its racing cousin Australia's Chaz Mostert steered to victory at the Daytona 24 Hour.
But unlike two-door supercars, you can't possibly justify the likes of the X5 M as a track day weapon. Crushing the scales at 2.3 tonnes, the big Beemer would melt $700-a-corner Michelins faster than you can feed $20 notes into a shredder.
You will see plenty of cars like the X5 M, Porsche Cayenne or Audi SQ7 at circuits - usually hitched to a trailer with something more appropriate in tow. Forget about four-wheel-drive adventures, as the X5 M rides low on the same rubber found on Ferraris.
Though it could be fun on gravel or a racetrack, the consequences of damaging a car worth $209,900 plus on-road costs (about $225,000 drive-away) give pause for thought. Equal parts performance machine and luxury conveyance, the X5 M is loaded with just about all the gear BMW can throw at it.
Hardware such as a twin-turbo V8, torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive and enormous 395mm brakes meets laser headlights, a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control and heated Merino leather seats.
There are huge screens in the dash and centre console, plus a high-resolution head-up display, inductive phone charging and wireless smartphone connectivity linking your device to a 16-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo.
Finger-wagging gesture control is fun to play with, as are voice-activated features along the lines of "Hey BMW, please make the ambient lighting blue".
But tech lovers might be disappointed by connectivity issues with BMW's less than fantastisch infotainment system which lost its connection to my iPhone several times over the course of a week. The problem isn't isolated to any one vehicle or handset.
Better news comes from an appropriately spacious back seat and enormous 650-litre boot.
As is the case with most BMW M products, there are myriad settings for the engine, transmission, steering, suspension and other drive elements, and you can save favourite combinations to red shortcut buttons on a fat steering wheel with gearshift paddles.
We configured the car with naughty and nice modes.
One had everything in its quietest, most comfortable setting with driver aids turned up to the max to take the edge off traffic snarls. While it's never as quiet or luxurious as dedicated luxury cars that aren't trying to be action heroes, the X5 M is easy to live with.
But the big tyres are noisy on the road. And BMW's driver-focused decision not to fit plush air suspension means that the ride quality isn't as smooth as it could be.
The other shortcut highlighted the wagon's wild side, with a tail-happy approach to cornering and a thunderous exhaust note to please enthusiasts.
Nimbler than you expect from a car this size, the BMW's enormously wide, 22 inch-tall rear tyres are like Shaquille O'Neal size 22 Reeboks in that they make unlikely feats of athleticism possible. It goes, stops and turns with surprising poise. Shockingly quick and surprisingly fun to steer, the X5 M is a cracker.
Fast and focused, the BMW X5 M delivers what buyers should expect from a high-performance SUV.
BMW X5 M COMPETITION VITALS
Price: About $225,000 drive-away
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, 460kW/750Nm
Warranty/Service: 3 years/unlimited km, $4134 for 5 years
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, active cruise control, lane keeping assistance, traffic jam assistance
Cargo space: 650 litres
Spare: Space saver
Originally published as BMW's bonkers new performance SUV