So we got a 2010 BMW X5 M
There was a time when BMW said they refuse to make an M version of the 7-Series because it would be too far away from the concept of the ‘M’ cars. They still believe that, so there is no M7. And then they went ahead and created the BMW X5 M. While the death of the original ‘M’ philosophy is lamented, the new ‘M’ philosophy opens the door to a whole new range of physics-defying vehicles that can finally take the fight to AMG, while butt-slapping Audi back to the hole they came out from.
The X5 M has an attractive body-coloured kit around the lower half of the 4×4, while the suspension seems to be lower than usual. A bit more visual oomph would’ve been appreciated by anyone spending this much on an SUV, especially since it looks too close to BMW’s own “M-Sport” kit for regular X5 models.
Indeed, even the ‘M’ badges are understated. We’ve seen X5 3.0i wannabes with larger ‘M’ fake badges.
There isn’t much to look at from the rear either, beyond the big exhaust tips. However, the X5 was already one of the most attractive SUV designs, so it is harder to make it look better anyway.
The interior is typical BMW. While simplistic in design, things look spicy due to the red leatherette wrappings on every surface, flanked by fake carbon-fibre “patterned” trim. Stuff in our tester included the iDrive computer, that BMW-specific joystick gear shifter, heads-up display, top-view cameras, keyless start and an electronic parking brake. Unique to the ‘M’ are proper pull-back paddle-shifters, instead of the pull-push stubs that regular BMW models get.
The leather seats are tall and fully power-adjustable, but not as bolstered as we thought a “sports” vehicle should have.
Rear space is excellent, although climbing on isn’t too elegant with the lack of side-steps.
The rear gets full a/c controls as well as nicely-hidden cup-holders for two.
Luggage space under the power-operated tailgate is also immense.
There is a large storage cubby below the trunk floor too, made possible by the lack of third-row seats and spare tyre.
The 60:40 second-row folds to create an almost flat cargo floor. Also seen here is the panoramic glass roof option, which can also open halfway to become a huge sunroof.
Even with our non-love for non-offroading “crossovers,” the BMW X5 M is extremely desirable by virtue of its handling, luxury and performance. But in our testing, we noticed that we weren’t getting the numbers we should be, matching the X6 xDrive 50i at best. We got into some research and found out the cause.
It turns out that the understated ‘M’ button on the steering wheel, easy to dismiss as maybe a mute function for the stereo, is really the switch to performance mode. We tried this ‘M’ mode for a few minutes within city limits and were surprised at the additional kick it offered in first gear. But then we had to return the car.
While we attempt to get the X5 M for a second round of proper performance testing, we can’t help but wonder at how the ‘M’ brand has evolved in just ten years. Our 2000 BMW M Roadster comes with a proper manual, no electronic aids beyond ABS, simple shocks and a unique hand-built engine. The BMW X5 M comes with an automatic, 3 electronic driving modes, air suspension and a turbo engine derived from the base models. The X5 M is still exceedingly amazing, but not as unique or involving any more. More in the full review.