2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive by autoevolution

2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive 6 photos
Photo: Original image by autoevolution
2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive2014 BMW X5 M50d Test Drive
The latest monster-toy from BMW comes with a rather unusual badge on the tailgate that has plenty of letters and numbers in it to make you feel confused. And rightfully so. The “X5 M50d” badge on the back side of the car we just tested was introduced just 2 years ago and it’s already claiming hooligan status.
This car is part of the 3rd generation of BMW SUVs that the Munich-based company made, following in the footsteps of cars that were received properly by the audience. The E53 started the whole Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV as Bimmer fans like to call it) madness, only to be followed by the E70 model that is still regarded as the best BMW ever made, despite the new F15 taking over right about now. Let me explain.

We had the new model for a test drive but we weren’t as impressed as we hoped for. Maybe the expectations we set before even getting inside were too high or maybe that BMW truly lost its way, we’re not really sure right now but nonetheless we can share the experience.

One thing is for sure though. When it comes to engines, few people are ahead of the Bavarians. The engine fitted to this M50d version has 3 turbos and 3-liters in displacement but that doesn’t mean it falls into any of the usual ‘diesel’ stereotypes.

This beast sounds and feels exactly like a petrol engine. It has 381 HP and 740 Nm of torque but that huge amount of force is so well sent throughout the car and through the 8-speed gearbox that you actually feel like you’re in a race car. Ignoring the size of the thing, of course.

Talking about size and stuff like this, we should mention that the interior space is at least on par with the previous generation whilst the exterior grew by a few millimeters. However, looking at the car from outside, you get a really ‘massive’ feel and you don’t feel like joking around anymore. That’s because the M50d is dead serious and looks more than aggressive.

It has that specific ‘WOW’ factor too. Driving it down the street I noticed that everyone was turning their heads to get a glimpse of the new ‘Boss’ as BMW like to call it. It’s a massive car that demands respect. And it receives it. It wasn’t seldom that people let me pass or do rude things in traffic without saying a word or giving me odd looks and that makes you feel rather... different.

The main complaints about this model will be restricted to the suspension and the steering. I’m not the first one to say this but the steering is really confusing. It’s not that it’s bad because for the inner, busy cities, (that's where it’s flawless) but it’s just not providing the needed feedback you’d like.

Take this bad boy hard through a corner and you’ll notice that you don’t know how much correction you have to put in. At no given point you know exactly what the front axle is doing and where the wheels are pointing, forcing you to constantly adjust the steering wheel to make sure you’re on track. It’s really hard to describe.

Onto the suspension then. After 3 days of hard riding on this platform, I found myself suffering from back pain. At this point I should explain that it wasn’t because I drove the poor thing only in the Sport+ mode but mostly on ECO PRO or Comfort, to see how they do inside the city. That says a lot. However, you should expect a harsher suspension if you decide to go for an M Performance vehicle and especially an X5 (renowned for their hard suspension setup).

The most troubling thing about this suspension was the way it felt in the back. The M50d comes with air suspension for the rear axle as standard. That means that it should be more comfortable back there for the passengers. Most of the time it is but push the car a bit and it starts to wobble and send uncomfortable jolts to your spine that are  simply unexplicable.

On top of that, the whole car feels like it’s made of two separate bits: the body and the chassis and that there’s a gap between them. Not the most reassuring feeling. The 'upside' is that you only feel this way in the back. The front seats feel a lot more connected.

Bottom line, the new X5 is a step up from the E70 model. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend the M Performance version just yet. It seems to be it needs a bit more refinement and, at the moment, the 40d version with 313 HP makes more sense.

Make no mistake though, this SAV will do everything you want it to, with pleasure. It’s comfortable when you need it to, offers security like no other model and makes you feel special. That’s if you have the money, for it, of course.

For more details, you should check out the full test.
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