Throwback review | BMW X5 is an insanely competent all-rounder that oozes opulence

2020 BMW X5. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
2020 BMW X5. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

Not too long ago, I was given the keys to the BMW X5. This wasn't just an ordinary X5. And by ordinary I mean it is a curb hopper, shopping centre trotter, low-profile tyre riding X5.

This one was a tad different in that it was fitted with off-road tyres. Proper, big off-road tyres.

At first I was a bit perplexed at the SUV's setup and wondered how a vehicle like this – that was made for life in the city – would cope with such a set of wheels. It's not like the X5 was made to get its boots dirty.

This is an SUV of status. Of prominence and opulence. You are not going to go bundu-bashing on your off-weekend or tackle an off-road course just a few minutes' drive from where you live.

I had no intention of doing the most with this SUV, just because of the tyres it came with. Best stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.


2020 BMW X5. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

Splendid interior

BMW has gone over and above with their latest-generation of interiors, and the X5, when it was launched, was one of the first to boast it. Naturally, buyers can specify and customise their X5's interior to their heart's content and be wholly satisfied with what they've chosen.

Our test unit's interior was decked in a creamy leather that complemented the blue hue of the X5. Wood inserts was used on the facia of the dashboard to create that sense of opulence and class. It merges quite nicely with the leather and promotes an ambiance of 'arrival.'

While the centre console has been freed from the array of buttons BMW loved so dearly, most of the technologies can now be operated from the control unit next to the gear lever. It's a simplified system with easy-to-read menus. One is never overwhelmed by the array of options, which is a nod in the right direction for a vehicle filled to the brim with technologies.


2020 BMW X5. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

No tyre noise?

Remember the concerns raised with the tyres? Well, it turns out that it could be this X5's trounce card. Out of the city and with the road freeing up, it was a pleasant surprise not to notice any tyre noise at 120km/h, even 130km/h. Sound insulation on the X5 has improved tremendously, and are you never confronted with either the tyres or wind deflecting from the side mirrors (often an issue on these big cars).

At 120km/h, the engine is hardly working. The turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel always has enough in reserve to react almost instantaneously to throttle inputs. 195kW and 620Nm are sent to all four wheels, but it's the latter, available at 2000rpm, that always comes in handy. The window in which the torque operates, however, is small: 2000 - 2500rpm.

Regardless, you'll always find yourself in the right gear as the eight-speed automatic will hook the next gear in near-pristine timing. Keep the engine in its sweet spot, and you should see it average around 7.0-litres/100km. 

But be warned: the surge of sudden power can be very addictive.


2020 BMW X5. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond


The BMW X5 is a leaders in the SUV market, and has been at the forefront of innovation and desirability since the late 1990s. This latest iteration is the finest yet and has very little to fault. While most of us will never be able to afford it, those that can attest to the fine (overall) craftsmanship.

Price: BMW X5 xDrive30d xLine - R1 237 282


2020 BMW X5. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

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