Munich - BMW’s fourth-generation X5 has taken more than just an evolutionary step. Not only is it bigger, bolder and highly digitised but it’s even more talented off the beaten track.

The new X5’s exterior design has taken a more distinctive and sporting direction, with its pronounced shoulderline, huge kidney grille, slim headlights and 3D taillights giving it a more menacing presence, further emboldened when the optional 22-inch wheels are fitted.

Buyers will be able to choose between two design packs for the X5:

The X5 has grown bigger in all three dimensions, with overall length having increased by 36mm, width by 66mm and height by 19mm, while the wheelbase takes a 42mm stretch to afford greater legroom. The X5 will be available with third-row seating, but those seeking superior practicality might be better off waiting for the new X7 flagship that’s set to come on stream later in the year.

The X5 goes on sale in South Africa this November, and local customers will have a choice between two diesel variants: M50d and xDrive30d.

The M50d flagship, with its quad-turbo straight-six diesel, is good for 294kW and a mammoth 760Nm of torque, while the more sensible 30d option, also with six cylinders, is rated at 195kW and 620Nm.

Certain overseas markets will also get an xDrive50i variant, featuring a newly developed 340kW/650Nm V8 turbopetrol, and an xDrive40i with BMW’s 3-litre six-pot turbopetrol, tuned to 250kW and 450Nm.

All engines are paired with an eight-speed Steptronic autobox as standard and BMW’s xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive with a rearward-biased torque distribution. Adaptive damping is standard, and customers wanting even better road manners can order two-axle air suspension, an electronically-controlled rear differential lock and Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering. 

For those wanting to venture off the tar, the X5 will be available with an Off-Road package for the first time, featuring the aforementioned air suspension with 80mm worth of ride height variance, front and rear underguards and multiple driving modes that optimise the vehicle’s systems for sand, rock, gravel or snow driving.

This X5 debuts a new operating system called BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which is fitted as standard. A development of the familiar iDrive, the new system includes a 31.2cm digital instrument cluster as well as a central touchscreen with situation-linked and customisable displays, and gesture control. Furthermore, the new generation head-up display features a larger projection surface, improved 3D graphics and additional content.

A raft of fancy new options include multifunction seats with massage function, four-zone climate control, Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, enhanced ambient lighting, heated armrests, a larger panoramic glass roof and rear-seat entertainment system with 26cm touchscreen displays.

An enhanced Active Cruise Control and Stop & Go system with steering and lane assist joins the long list of driver assistant gizmos, along with Cross Traffic Warning, Wrong-way warning and an Emergency Stop Assistant that can steer the vehicle to the side of the road if need be.

South African prices and specifications will be announced nearer to launch.

IOL Motoring