BMW's new X5 is sportier, cushier and almost clever enough to hold a conversation
BMW’s new extraordinary X5 The BMW X5, compared with its predecessor, is more stable, with less body roll around corners and less jiggle when driven over uneven surfaces. PHOTOS: LIONEL SEAH

BMW's first sport utility vehicle (SUV), the X5, made its debut in 1999 and is now into its fourth iteration.

Does it have what it takes to compete in a segment which has exploded in the last two decades?
To address that question convincingly, BMW has made the latest X5 sportier looking, more powerful and roomier and packed it with more tech.
The new car has a more chiselled and muscular design, with an over-sized kidney grille and wheels up to 22 inches in size.
It remains a hefty beast, with the 3-litre xDrive40i weighing 2,060kg. But with 340 horses under the hood, the X5 is amazingly quick, with the benchmark century sprint completed in 5.5 seconds.
That is a full second quicker than the previous X5 xDrive35i. More impressively, it blasts off with refined verve and quiet resolve, which can be attributed in part to its revised eight-speed autobox.
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Ride quality and road handling, too, are up a notch, thanks to dynamic dampers, air suspension and optional active steering with rear-wheel steer.
SPECS / BMW X5 xDRIVE40i
Price: $350,000 with COE (estimate)
Engine: 2,998cc 24-valve inline-6 turbocharged
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shift
Power: 340hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 1,500-5,200rpm
0-100kmh: 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 243kmh
Fuel consumption: 8.5 litres/100km
The X5 has always been among the most driver-oriented SUVs, but the new one is even better. It is noticeably more stable, with less body roll around corners and less jiggle when driving over uneven surfaces.
It is relaxing to drive despite its size, with a level of dynamism surpassed only by the Porsche Cayenne.
The Singapore-bound X5 will have Parking Assistant Plus, a hands-free parking system which will be a boon for such a big car. Included is the Reversing Assistant, which moves the car backwards automatically over a path it has just negotiated. It can do this for up to 50m.
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Also new is a fully powered split-tailgate (the lower portion was previously manual).
The car is bigger than its predecessor at 4,922mm long (+36mm), 2,004mm wide (+66mm) and with a wheelbase of 2,975mm (+42mm). This translates to more space within, especially for middle-row passengers.
Instead of the five-seater X5 tested here, Singapore gets the seven-seater version.
Inside, the cabin is lined with open-pore wood panels, more satin chrome, glossy big screens and knurled metal dials.
The X5 is the first BMW to get the latest Operating System 7.0, which runs the infotainment system and the virtual instrument panel - both displayed on 12.3-inch screens.
The system comes with a voice control system which caters to more commands. And it can be connected to a wide variety of mobile and home devices.
If you have a Samsung Galaxy S7 or newer model, you can unlock the car's doors and start its engine with the phone. This feature is not available for iPhone.
In essence, the new X5 is sportier, more comfy, classier and more futuristic. As such, it remains a frontrunner in the premium large SUV segment.
The car will arrive in the first quarter of next year and will be available in two trim versions.
Does it have what it takes to compete in a segment which has exploded in the last two decades?

To address that question convincingly, BMW has made the latest X5 sportier looking, more powerful and roomier and packed it with more tech.

The new car has a more chiselled and muscular design, with an over-sized kidney grille and wheels up to 22 inches in size.

It remains a hefty beast, with the 3-litre xDrive40i weighing 2,060kg. But with 340 horses under the hood, the X5 is amazingly quick, with the benchmark century sprint completed in 5.5 seconds.

That is a full second quicker than the previous X5 xDrive35i. More impressively, it blasts off with refined verve and quiet resolve, which can be attributed in part to its revised eight-speed autobox.

Ride quality and road handling, too, are up a notch, thanks to dynamic dampers, air suspension and optional active steering with rear-wheel steer.

The X5 has always been among the most driver-oriented SUVs, but the new one is even better. It is noticeably more stable, with less body roll around corners and less jiggle when driving over uneven surfaces.

It is relaxing to drive despite its size, with a level of dynamism surpassed only by the Porsche Cayenne.

The Singapore-bound X5 will have Parking Assistant Plus, a hands-free parking system which will be a boon for such a big car. Included is the Reversing Assistant, which moves the car backwards automatically over a path it has just negotiated. It can do this for up to 50m.

Also new is a fully powered split-tailgate (the lower portion was previously manual).

The car is bigger than its predecessor at 4,922mm long (+36mm), 2,004mm wide (+66mm) and with a wheelbase of 2,975mm (+42mm). This translates to more space within, especially for middle-row passengers.

Instead of the five-seater X5 tested here, Singapore gets the seven-seater version.

Inside, the cabin is lined with open-pore wood panels, more satin chrome, glossy big screens and knurled metal dials.

The X5 is the first BMW to get the latest Operating System 7.0, which runs the infotainment system and the virtual instrument panel - both displayed on 12.3-inch screens.

The system comes with a voice control system which caters to more commands. And it can be connected to a wide variety of mobile and home devices.

If you have a Samsung Galaxy S7 or newer model, you can unlock the car's doors and start its engine with the phone. This feature is not available for iPhone.

In essence, the new X5 is sportier, more comfy, classier and more futuristic. As such, it remains a frontrunner in the premium large SUV segment.

The car will arrive in the first quarter of next year and will be available in two trim versions.