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    BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    After a wait time of almost 5 months, I was very happy when I picked up my X5 M at my local dealer. The car looks stunning in my opinion, the black exterior is exactly how I expected it and the black front grille (optional) adds a more aggressive look to it. Overall I’m happy with the exterior, I just wish BMW would have made the backlights a tiny bit darker.



    The interior (criollo brown) fits the black exterior perfectly, I haven’t seen it when I ordered it, so this is a very pleasant surprise.

    Before you read this little review, please keep in mind that the car is new and not run-in yet. I will deliver an update to this report as soon as I run it in.


    I don’t want to bore you will too many stories, so I cut it right to the chase:



    The engine feels very powerful but throttle response is only sporty and direct when the „M“ button is active. Activating the „M“ button (which is situated conveniently directly on the steering wheel) doesn’t actually do the job, you need to configure the „M“ button functions in the Navigation System setup menue. I chose to use the SPORT setting for all functions and also activated MDM (M Dynamic Mode) which enhances the functionality of the DSC (ESP), making it less „intrusive“ when driving fast. I actually prefer driving with the „M“ button active all the time because even on slippery roads, the Sport/MDM mode is pretty safe, the DSC is still working but it allows the car to slide a little bit with the rear for example. I wouldn’t use this mode on snowy/icey roads though.

    As powerful as the engine might be, the exhaust/engine sound is barely noticeable inside the car. Outside the car, things are different. When pressing the „M“ button, the sportier mode also activates the claps in the exhaust system, making the exhaust tone louder and throatier. This results in a pretty loud exhaust sound outside the car but if you expect this sound to be V8-like with a deep growl, you’re going to be very disappointed. Instead, the exhaust sounds like the one of a tuned 4-cylinder Turbo engine. Very disappointing. Not sure why BMW M GmbH chose this sound, maybe the twin-turbo system really doesn’t allow a better sound but maybe they didn’t want to have that deep V8 growl on a M model, I really don’t know. Fact is: it isn’t what many people would expect from a powerful SUV.

    There is no real turbo lag but sometimes, especially when you accelerate only a little bit at a higher gear with a low rev figure, there is some sort of lag which is pretty noticeable. For track driving or very dynamic street driving, manual mode is more recommended to overcome turbo lag in certain driving situations.

    My X5 M is equipped with the optional M Driver's Package, which unfortunately is only available to certain markets. This optional feature raises the top speed limit from 250 kph (156 mph) to 275 kph (172 mph) and also includes a one day specific M Driving Ed event with instructors. The M Driver's package costs a steep 2400 EUR incl. 19% VAT in Germany, so it is difficult to recommend this option. For the german Autobahn, it makes sense but for other countries...probably not. It is a lot of money.

    Top speed of 275 kph is reached in 6th gear at around 5500 rpm, so the last 6th gear is a pure driving gear, something were are not very likely to see again on a modern SUV because of emissions/environmental laws.




    The X5M automatic tranny is a treat, it shifts fast and in manual mode, it feels like DCG. Some people may not like the harshness of it’s very spontaneous shifting but I actually think that it fits perfectly for such a high performance SUV. The auto mode works very well, there isn’t really the need to use manual mode under normal driving conditions.Only when you want to achieve record lap times, changing to manual mode could definitely help because this is the only way to avoid turbo lag under certain driving situations by keeping the rev figure high enough to provide sufficient turbo boost.



    With „M“ active and all settings set to Sport, the steering feels very direct and sporty. Unfortunately it also feels a little bit „synthetic“, I can actually feel how it changes steering parameters from firm to soft and vice versa. The same feeling I had during my Panamera Turbo testdrive. I didn’t have the chance to drive the X5M very fast but during normal and sporty driving, there is no understeer, just a slight oversteer. As soon as the run-in is over, I’m going to be able to shed some more light into the steering behavior.



    The chassis setup is firm, for some comfort loving people maybe a little bit too firm. The ride comfort isn’t very good, it is just acceptable and this comes from somebody who really loves firm rides. On normal streets, the suspension setup provides sufficient comfort but as soon as the streets get bad, so does the ride comfort. What worries me actually more than the ride comfort is some sort of a brake dive: when coming to a stop, the whole car bounces slightly forward and then backwards. It feels like being in a boat. It is a pretty subtle feel, not very strong but still feelable enough to be annoying. Otherwise, the chassis really allows high curve speeds and it feels safe and surprisingly sporty. Expect an update on the chassis setup as soon as I get over the run-in period.





    The brakes seem to be OK, I didn’t have a chance yet to try them out in a more aggressive manner. The brake feel could be slightly firmer and more linear but I got used to it. No brake squeal so far. Apparently BMW uses more comfort oriented brake pads fort he X5 M, this could be one reason for the soft brake feel.



    The navigation system (Professional) is really capable, the display is nice and the new system uses even a satellite view, unfortunately not as detailled as I wish it would be. This is definitely no Google Earth but the next best thing close to it. The software seems to be a little bit buggy though. When driving in reverse, the display sometimes doesn’t switch on the rear view camera. Sometimes the song/interpret names aren’t displayed, just the numbers. These aren’t major bugs but it is annoying. It is however a mystery why BMW doesn’t use 3G for it’s internet access through the Navigation System Professional but the much slower EDGE or even GPRS (when EDGE isn’t available) instead. We are in the year 2010, 3G is already a couple of years old. I also ordered the DVD changer in the glove compartment but to be honest, I’m not quite sure why I did it. Right now, I’m not using a single DVD in it and I wonder if I’m ever going to do that. Since the Nav System display turns off any video playback when starting to drive, it doesn’t make sense to use DVDs.


    So the CD changer would have been the cheaper and more logical choice. The HiFi BMW Individual package for aprox. 1500 EUR sounds good but not as good as expected and definitely not as good as the Burmester sound system on the Panamera Turbo I testdrove. The X6 35d loaner I drove had the regular HiFi system and I’ll be damned if I can hear a real difference between the two sound systems. Maybe the BMW Individual system sounds better when turning it louder but thats it. A slight disappointment. The rear entertainment system is great but I wish the display would be larger.

    The kids complaint about the viewing angle, it is good but they always need to turn their heads and this sucks on longer trips. A seperate display for each seat would have been the better solution.

    Good thing: kids can watch movies and even digital TV in the rear, using headphones, while me and my wife can listen to music in the front. The digital TV reception is very good, even at higher speeds. The bluetooth connection to my iPhone 3GS works great, there don’t seem to be any compatibility issues so far. Voice command also works very well, nothing to complaint here.




    As much as I try to like it, I don’t. Sorry. Nice gimmick and maybe useful on a fighter jet where the pilot needs to concentrate on the fight and not getting blown out off the skies but in a car, I just don’t get the point. The display actually distracts from driving, I can’t understand why BMW thinks that it improves safety. I don’t see that at all. It works well but I have no use for it, it is annoying.



    There is only one word for it: HUGE, lots of space. There is even another deep compartment under the trunk floor, absolutely great. The lower part of the two part rear hatch can withstand up to 250 kg according to my salesperson. My kids love sitting on it and believe it or not but this could be a great feature for a picknick.





    There is a lot of interior room in the X5 M. The rear passengers have lots of leg room too and the comfort seats in front are very comfortable but at the same time provide enough sidegrip for dynamic driving situations. The overall quality impression is good to very good and at least at par with the direct competition. The front dash doesn’t look as modern and sporty as the one on the new Cayenne but some people may actually like this.







    Absolutely great option, our kids love it. It can't be opened the whole way but it provides a very nice view to the sky.




    The X5M is an outstanding performer, a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Some people may not like the subtle look of the car but I love it.

    Most people don’t have the slightest clue what this high performance SUV is capable of, the perfect understatement car for certain countries where you don’t want to show off your financial wealth.

    Unfortunately the X5M is not perfect and while I’m willing to accept some flaws due to it’s attractive price tag (after rebate) compared to the competion, there are a couple of things BMW could have done better in my opinion. The „brake dive“ I mentioned is unacceptable for such a high performance SUV and the firm ride may not please comfort oriented drivers. The biggest disappointment however is the exhaust sound, the X5M sounds horrible and not how people expect a high performance SUV to sound like. Imagine a lion roaring a „meeoww“ instead of a „roar“, you get my point. The interior also looks a bit boring but it is functional and this is what counts. For those looking for a luxury SUV, the X5M might not cut it. For those looking for a high performance SUV with some minor flaws, the X5M is just perfect. It may not be the perfect performer or daily driver but it definitely is the perfect high performance family transporter. Daddy should be happy.



    Update(s): Today I realized how well programmed the automatic transmission is, very similar to DCG. When you're driving in manual mode, the auto tranny changes itself from 1st to 2nd gear if you accelerate very slowly, this enhances driving comfort a lot. If you accelerate more aggressive and/or use more throttle, the 1st gear stays in place and the auto tranny doesn't upshift. Same when slowing down: the auto tranny downshifts automatically. This really came as a surprise to me.

    Update(s) 2: Today I tried to move some of my music files onto the X5 M's Navigation Professional internal hard drive. There are 12.5 GB left for media files, so one can fill up this baby with hours of music. First, I tried to transfer over 112 MP3 files, almost 1GB of data. Transfer took around 5-6 minutes, they played nicely and the tags were also intact. Then, I tried something more challenging, copying iTunes music files (.m4a AAC files). There is no DRM protection anymore, so basically all music files from iTunes have the same standard. No problems here either, the BMW Navigation Professional recognizes the iTunes files without a sweat, copying them from the USB stick to the internal hard disk and playing them without any problems. I am impressed because it saves me a lot of time to convert them to another format like MP3 for example. Playback quality isn't perfect but good enough to listen to and definitely not worse than 128bit MP3 files. The 192bit MP3 files I copied though seem to sound a tiny bit better than the Apple iTunes music files.

    Update(s) 3: Today I just realized that by adjusting the HiFi system's Equalizer settings, the sound improves substantially and I can tweak it to my audio needs. Whoever has issues with the BMW HiFi Individual System sound, should adjust the Equalizer settings, it makes a difference. 


    RC (Germany) - Rennteam Editor 997 Turbo, BMW X5 M (April 9th, 2010), BMW M3 Cab DKG, Mini Cooper S JCW

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks RC Smiley.  Awesome pictures and report loved reading it.

    Happy Driving

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks, Ron. I could do it much better in German...I guess sooner or later, we need a professional translator. 


    RC (Germany) - Rennteam Editor 997 Turbo, BMW X5 M (April 9th, 2010), BMW M3 Cab DKG, Mini Cooper S JCW

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Nice report and a very stealthy-looking SUVSmiley. It would be interesting if you could get another X6M to compare the brake-dive behavior between the vehicles.

    Don't worry about translation though, the report is well-written as is.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

     Congrats ! Stunning car ! I would be interested in the day to day fuel consumption. Wonder how much you bring it down from the 20 Liters respectively above in spirit drive mode...

    As for my cars I am always above the official figures no matter how hard I try - but then I drive little "autobahn" 

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Nice, tks!

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    A very nice car RC! 

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks RC..Great write up and I look forward to reading more after the run-in.

    2006 987S, Artic Silver, Cocoa, Cocoa Top 2006 Cayenne S Lapis Blue New York

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Great review, thanks!


    997 GT3 RS

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks for a great write-up Christian, no need for a translatorSmiley

    Any news on the exhaust sound fix that BMW was going to come up with?


    10 PRINT "997.2 Carrera S rules"

    20 GOTO 10

    30 RUN

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report has something to unlock the DVD lockout :)

    X5's trunk is big, but is still a few inches too narrow for proper golf clubs. First gen X5's trunk was wide enough but smaller overall. So between the first gen and this version BMW made the car wider but the trunk narrower while making it bigger overall.




    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Very, very good review Christian!Smiley

    And Congrats!Smiley

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

     Your reviews are getting better and better Christian. and the pictures really helped get all the details across. Thanks for taking the time to do such a good job.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Many congrats Smiley Car looks great!

    P.S.: Don't be too critical with the car. Although I know what you mean the car is still a great package SmileySmileySmiley 

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Christian, many thanks for this great and well balanced writeup.Smiley
    Before I read your report, I was afraid you would "kill" the X5M, because of your first comments.Smiley
    But now I read you are a happy owner as well.
    The pictures are really great and detailed.
    I must admit that the black colour with the black grill is so good looking that I'm  beeing a little bit jealous that I don't have chosen this combo...Smiley

    Kind regards, Conny 

    Porsche 997.2 Turbo S (Jun 10) *  BMW X5 M

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report



    There is no try. Just do.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

     Great review Christian. Thank you for sharing it with us.



    09 Audi TTS Ibis

    07 997 Carrera S / 05 M3 Coupe / 03 M3 Coupe / 96 M3 Coupe EVO (ALL BUT HISTORY)


    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks, guys.

    Did I mention that so far, nobody has asked me about the new car, how much I paid for it, how much fuel it consumes, etc. etc. etc.? I'm in heaven.

    My wife's friend, the woman who made the comment about my 997 Turbo being some sort of p.n.s substitute, admired the car this weekend. She and her husband had the older model two years ago. She mentioned that I must not be too happy that I don't have the Cayenne anymore because the BMW is surely much slower. I didn't plan to tell her but at that moment, I told her how much power the car has and even put the car document under her nose, so she can read the 275 kph top speed. Two hours later, in the evening, she called my wife to ask her if I made a joke because her husband told her that the most powerful X5 has only "300 HP or so".  My wife confirmed it to her but later on was kind of mad at me because I told her. To be honest: I don't give a damn. Smiley With "friends" like this, you don't need enemies.


    RC (Germany) - Rennteam Editor 997 Turbo, BMW X5 M (April 9th, 2010), BMW M3 Cab DKG, Mini Cooper S JCW

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report


    Thanks, guys.

     My wife confirmed it to her but later on was kind of mad at me because I told her. To be honest: I don't give a damn. Smiley With "friends" like this, you don't need enemies.


    RC (Germany) - Rennteam Editor 997 Turbo, BMW X5 M (April 9th, 2010), BMW M3 Cab DKG, Mini Cooper S JCW

    It is a great feeling when you get a chance to hum, "correct" self-righteos folks. The opportunity doesn't present itself often so you have to seize the moment.

    Nice "car", love the black grill and the interior colour combo.


    Slow In, Fast Out

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report


    Your X5M can leave your old Cayenne in the dust.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Some people need to get a life...unbelievable she would say something like that in front of you unless it was meant in jest and she was only trying to tease you. Smiley


    Great car. Enjoy it in good health!


    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report


    With "friends" like this, you don't need enemies.

    Smiley   ... by the way, great report!

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Great and honest report RC!! Very imformative and great pics. I hear you on the taillight redness. It does look very bright. I think you could easily change the exhaust system and a little tint for the lights and that would make the car more personal.

    I think it looks fantastic and was a very good move on your part, for the kids, for the bank account, and for the status in Germany.

    I see the kids already used the rear (SHOES OFF THE SEATS, my dad used to shout) 


    indeed shifting is ancient technology - so is a fuel burning engine..  I happen to like both :) 

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks for the summary, RC. Interesting read.

    May be the exhaust sound will improve over time, when car is run in? My PSE need some thousand kilometers to sound as it should sound. 


    BTW....I like the head-up display much, IMO its an improvement.  Do you have also the speedlimit recognition, which is shown on head-up or display? Thats a great tool and really working well...


    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Oh my GOD RC! Did you moved back to the "wild east" Smiley again and failed to mention that to me? Smiley Sounds SO familiar what you tell... I'm scared! Memories...


    There is no try. Just do.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Thanks for the report as usual a very nice report. Maybe she should consider writting for a German car magazine. Then more people would get the truth from people who drive the cars on a daily basis and not from journalists who drive them once in a blue moon. Once again great job. As for your "enemies" just enjoy your new toy and forget about them.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Great to see your review to be completely consistent with my initial review and everything I have said since.  To sum it up, I have said the following:

    - throttle response not good unless in M (sport) mode

    - sounds like a 4 cylinder turbo

    - brake dive is annoying, like driving a boat

    - a bit laggy at higher speed with low revs

    It is reassuring as sometimes I wonder if the other X5M owners also have the same complaint or if there is something that is not quite right about my car.  Also, something you mentioned that I haven't previously said on Rennteam is about the sometimes artificial feel of the steering wheel.  What I am starting to realise is that this happens when the electronics counter the lean of the car when cornering hard.  So if you were going slowly and you turn the wheel, the steering feels fine.  But if you do it at higher speed, you will get that artificial feel.  To prove this, if you do a "fake" but rather acute tug on the steering wheel before you actually do the proper cornering, you can feel the steering load up.  It's a bit of a weird feeling.

    I do disagree about the HUD though.  Where I live, it is an absolutely great tool and not just a gimmick because speed is enforced so strictly here (just ask Lewis Hamilton).  So instead of me constantly taking my eyes off the road to make sure that I am not 3kmh over (yeah that's right, 3kmh over the stupidly slow speed limit and you get a fine), I can just glace down slightly so see what my speed is.  I don't find it distracting at all, and I think you will find that after awhile, you don't even notice it's there unless you are looking for it.

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report


    I do disagree about the HUD though.  Where I live, it is an absolutely great tool and not just a gimmick because speed is enforced so strictly here (just ask Lewis Hamilton).  So instead of me constantly taking my eyes off the road to make sure that I am not 3kmh over (yeah that's right, 3kmh over the stupidly slow speed limit and you get a fine), I can just glace down slightly so see what my speed is.  I don't find it distracting at all, and I think you will find that after awhile, you don't even notice it's there unless you are looking for it.


    Why even own a C63 or X5M in Australia? Are there any places left in AUS where you can legally go faster than 100 km/h (excluding the racetrack) any more?Smiley

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report

    Yeah, interstate freeways are 110kmh.

    But being locals, we know of many mountain roads to take my sports cars! :)

    Re: BMW X5 M - preliminary driving report


    when i read between the lines, i have the feeling, that you try to like it ...but your guts still say PORSCHE.

    I know that feeling quite well ...





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