BMW X5 Review: M50d delivers power and economy

26 August 2013 - Shawn Jooste


Unlike the BMW 3 series, BMW have chosen not to update the X5 every time there is a new moon. Which means the X5 we got to test wasn’t the new X5 we’re expecting next year. Rather, it was the BMW X5 facelift we’ve seen on the road for the last 5 years.

But it does have a new engine, and that’s what makes it special. BMW have developed the M50d, which is a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder engine, that produces 280kW, and 740Nm of torque. Which is a whoppingly big amount!

What’s also fairly special about this car, is that despite being a diesel, BMW have seen fit to give it an ‘M’ badge.


So with that amount of power, how does the engine handle a 2 ton X5? Very well actually. The X5 M50d gets from 0-100km in less than 6 seconds, which is very impressive for a 2 ton beast.

740Nm of torque means the car has no problem accelerating, whether you’re trying to get up a steep hill or overtaking on the open road, you simply put your foot flat and the X5 vaults into action.

Being a diesel, the torque develops very low down, so from about 1200rpm, you’ve got more than enough power and torque on demand. Which really is lovely.

As an added bonus the X5 makes a lovely growl when you push it, despite being a diesel.


The biggest party trick the X5 has is the staggeringly good fuel economy. Despite being a biggish engine, and producing lots of power, it manages to average just below 10 l/100km, which when compared to other “performance” cars is quite astonishing.

With a tank capacity of 85l we managed to get 800km’s from the tank before we had to head for the garage.


On the inside the tech isn’t as dated as you’d think for a 5 year old car. Sure, the optional head up display is only amber, and newer models are full colour, and sure, the layout isn’t what you’d find in the new 6 series Gran Coupe, but it’s still pretty good.

We had the optional DVD player in the back which kept the kids quiet and occupied for ages, and the optional radar guided cruise control is brilliant, especially on the open road.


Standard wheels are 19”, we had the optional 21” wheels though, which are a little lower than the standard, but still very very good at providing a comfortable drive.

Inside you’re treated to a dose of sheer luxury, with Alcantara seats front and rear. The ergonomic layout of the car is fantastic, and despite it’s size it’s incredibly easy to drive.

Parking is made easy with a reverse angle camera, and entry to the boot is fully electronic. Simply click a button on the remote and the boot opens, hold the same button for 3 seconds and the boot closes.


SUV’s are generally quite practical. The X5 is no different. We packed up for a weekend away, and I managed to get everything we need to take, for a family of 4 in the boot quite comfortably. The boot has a split tail gate, so the bottom 1/4 of the boot folds down. There are also rails with dividers in the back which makes putting something smaller in the boot quite practical. The rails can be removed quite easily.

Inside the spaciousness continues. The rear seating arrangement makes it completely practical for 2 adults to be very comfortable, and the kids had space to play in the back.

In the front it’s more of the same; space, comfort, practicality. It’s a pretty good car.


I’m dying to see what the new X5 will give us, because the existing one is so brilliant already. It looks good, and draws a fair amount of attention when driving or parked in public. The sheer size of the X5 demands attention.

It’s comfortable on the inside, easy to drive, and practical as an everyday and family car.

It’s got a fantastic engine, enormous amounts of power and torque all while staying relatively economical.

I’ve never wanted to own an X5, but after a week with the M50d, I gave it back with a heavy heart.

It really is a fantastically well rounded car. If you’re on a bit of a budget, then a second hand X5 40d might suit you better. New the M50d is R991,000, if you add a few optionals you’re over a Million Rand, which is pricey, but totally worth it if you have the cash.  If you're looking for a used BMW X5, your'e in luck!