What do you do when you’re making an
that sells like hot cakes and you have to come up with a new model? It pretty simple, really: anything but a major change. This is the compressed story of the BMW X5’s third generation. Things weren’t always like this though.
When BMW came up with the X5, the company had to reinvent itself. At the time, BMW owned Land Rover, so it sought inspiration in the Brits’ work. Nonetheless, BMW was BMW, so it couldn’t simply release an SUV like Mercedes had recently done with the ML.
Instead, they invented their own segment, calling it a Sports Activity Vehicle. This is a moniker that, in one form or another, is used for BMW’s entire SUV range nowadays. We remember it as if it were yesterday - one of the press photos portrayed an E53 X5 on the beach, with a couple in scuba gear using the car.
BMW’s X5 was never as capable as its main rivals once taken off the road, but this was of little importance to most buyers. Thus, things didn’t change too much with the launch of the E70 second generation. This arrived in 2006 and saw the X5 move from the experimental area to the best-seller one.
Having established its pathway, BMW knew exactly what it had to do with the new F15 X5. By the way, X5s have always came to the world via BMW’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina and the company’s Mexican Toluca site.
This tells quite a lot about the North American flavor of the model. Notice the styling cues on our test car - these clearly show that they’ve gone a bit deeper with the American focus.
In spite of this, we’ll be driving a model that’s not offered in the US, the M50d. The X5 had already started its M Performance division adventure with the previous generation. The tri-turbo diesel hasn’t changed too much, but the engine only got to spend one year under the X5’s hood before the model went out of production.
We’re welcoming the N57S powerplant back to SAV life by starting off where it will spend most of its time: inside the city. In fact, we haven’t even set wheel on the road yet. We’re still amazed by how much more massive the new design makes the car look.