BMW first launched the X5 M for 2010, joining the BMW X6 M as one of the first all-wheel-drive models to be built by BMW M GmbH, blending BMW xDrive and Dynamic Performance Control with all the specific requirements and qualities of a high-performance vehicle in typical M fashion. The characteristic highlight of both new M models is their driving dynamics combined with driving stability and enhanced traction. Spirited driving enjoyment is further enhanced by a level of agility unparalleled in this segment and the unusually neutral steering behavior.
BMW’s intelligent all-wheel drive system provides variable distribution of drive power front-to-rear, while Dynamic performance control, varies power distribution between the two rear wheels allowing dynamic acceleration when exiting a turn. BMW xDrive, Dynamic Performance Control, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Servotronic and Adaptive Drive are all coordinated by Integrated Chassis Management as the central control unit, resulting in a high standard of driving dynamics and motoring safety in terms of agility, traction and driving stability.
Power for both of the X Series M models comes from a 4.4-liter, DOHC, 32-valve twin turbocharged V8 with High Precision Direct Fuel Injection. The powerful V8 cranks out 555 horsepower at 6,000 rpm while generating an impressive 502 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,500 to 5,650 rpm. The engine is coupled to a six-speed Sports Automatic transmission with Steptronic, featuring an electronic gear select lever and steering wheel – mounted paddle shifters. The engine is positioned longitudinally up front, and serves to drive all four wheels via the M-tuned xDrive all-wheel drive system.
As one would expect, the X5 M displays the basic styling characteristics of the more mundane standard X5, just as the X6 M’s basic form is derived from its base model. In addition to special “M” badging however, the “M” model exhibits more specific and aggressive cues that allude to its enhanced performance nature – the proportions are more upright, while the stance manages to display a lower, bolder persona, with unique ground effects fore and aft, as well as extended rockers. The front side panels feature distinctive gill intake units with an integrated side indicator and “M” logo. The vehicle’s athletic character is communicated in the rear by a rear diffuser and twin dual tailpipes.
The “power of M” is to BMW what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz, and the S-line is to Audi. The first M version was created in 1985, by transplanting a race-bred inline 6-cylinder from their M1 supercar into a 5 Series BMW sedan along with enhanced suspension and brakes, resulting in the BMW M5, which redefined sedan capabilities. The 2013 BMW X5 M continues to represent a positive progression in the history of M-powered BMWs. Note that the X5 is termed an SAV – Sports Activity Vehicle.
Our review here is of the BMW X5 M, which rides on 20-inch wheels with performance rubber. My test X5 M wore an exterior finish of Melbourne Red metallic, while the interior was executed in Bamboo Beige Extended Marino and Black, with brushed aluminum trim accents. The base price was set at $88,850 with the final sticker totaling $96,495 after factoring in the following extra costs: Cold Weather Package, Driver-Assistance Package, Premium Sound Package, full LED lights; Comfort Access keyless entry, satellite radio with 1 year subscription, BMW Apps and Destination charge.
The BMW X5 M is a spirited performance machine that delivers outstanding characteristics across the board in normal settings, but takes on supercar attributes when the M Dynamic mode is engaged. The new M Sports Automatic is commanded by an electronic selector on the center console offering the driver not only the Drive mode, but also Sport and M Manual modes for absolute control of gear selection. Standard equipment changes incorporated in last year’s model included: an IPod/USB Adapter added to the X5 M and X6 M; an Automatic Tailgate added to the X5 M. Package changes included a reduced price for the Premium Sound Package due to the addition of the IPod adapter as standard fare.
Aluminum pull-style paddles on the steering wheel exclusive to BMW M allow manual shifting (Right for upshifts, Left for downshifts). In the M Manual mode, each chosen gear is held up to redline giving the driver perfect throttle-steering control of the vehicle in demanding driving conditions. The transmission will not upshift or downshift automatically in this mode.
An added feature of the M Manual mode is Launch Control, which enables the driver to accelerate from a standstill with maximum performance. To activate Launch Control, the driver must stop the vehicle, move the gear selector into the M/S position and activate the Sports Power mode, as well as the M Dynamic mode, or respectively, the DSC-Off mode. Then, with the transmission in stage M1, the driver must press down the brake pedal and press the accelerator to at least 60% throttle, setting Launch Control to standby. Standby status is confirmed by a “starter’s flag” symbol in the instrument cluster. As soon as the driver releases the brake pedal, the vehicle will accelerate with full power. In the process, the M Sports Automatic transmission automatically upshifts at the ideal points, with the fastest possible shifts and optimum wheel spin control. Launch Control may be terminated at any time by reducing the throttle position.
The ride quality is firm, but comfortable. The technology level is state-of-the-art, but unless driven to extreme levels, such technology will probably never come into play – and, if it does, the driver and vehicle occupants are not likely to readily notice it.
Controls and switchgear, once inside are well placed for optimum user friendliness, and the seating is both supportive and comfortable. The clamshell opening glovebox and the folding and removable rear cargo cover both offer nice touches along with added convenience.
Bottom-line, the exterior styling gives just enough of a hint at the performance capabilities, and are just what the racing enthusiast might order anyway. The design form of the X5 M is less radical than the BMW X6 M, and will perhaps appeal to a broader audience. It is possible with either, to satisfy one’s need for speed with particular attention given to heightened response and handling characteristics