All the small things...

With the new BMW X5 dimensions sitting around the 5mx2m mark, having ‘small things’ in the headline could obviously be deemed an oxymoron. However, it’s the little things that this big SUV does, that makes it such a big improvement – are you still with me?

Since its initial release at the turn of the millennium, BMW fans have embraced this loveable SAV, yes SAV due to its Activity rather than Utility, so much so in fact, that it’s the marques number one seller. This is no mean feat, as along with its size comes a rather large price tag. But luxury SAVs are all the rage in BMW world and now, with the release of the 4th Generation, I know why.

The new X5 sits on a CLAR (Cluster Architecture) platform, and is longer, wider but a little shorter than the previous model. It has sharp shoulder lines that chicane up near the rear arches, has a kidney grille that you can spot from Mars and my xDrive 30d came with the laser light option so I could probably turn the red planet white in return. Plus 22” feet.

I was handed the keyfob to the 30d xDrive and immediately put it on my pocket, not to be seen again until I returned the vehicle several days later. BMW’s ‘Comfort Access’ meant that the X5’s doors unlocked as I approached the vehicle. No buttons to push, no doors to touch, (not to unlock at least) Howard Hughes would be in his element.

Once inside, I was greeted with a plethora of technology (which I’ll get to in a moment) all encased in next level BMW luxury. The Leather furniture is comfortable and seemingly hard wearing (good for those of us with kids). The centre console came with an attractive Aluminium Tetragon finish, the dual cup holders can be heated or cooled depending on your beverage choice and the gearstick is ‘crystal-like’ with a floating X encased inside.

The instrument cluster is completely digital, clear and easy to read, the head-up display is massive, ideal for those (like me) with slightly less than 20/20 vision and the semi-merged 12.3-inch infotainment screen can be controlled via touch, buttons and dials on the centre console and steering wheel, gesture control or voice and it’s the latter I wish to expand on.

For new X5 owners ‘Hey BMW’ will soon become your goto phrase before asking anyone anything. This simple phrase awakens the all-knowing BMW genie who is more than happy to do your bidding – well almost.

Too hot or cold? ‘Hey BMW’ will sort that for you and separates voice control from either of the front seats. Change radio stations? Again ‘hey BMW’ to the rescue. Want to know when your next service is? You guessed it, ‘hey BMW’. Destinations, calls, even global weather all delivered at your request. Look, it’s not perfect yet and is the prequel to the even more advanced system in the new 3 series but it’s easy to use and understand and was a hit with my 8-year-old.

On the road, the 3L turbo diesel engine performed admirably. It sounds like I diesel shouldn’t, delivers power (196kW) and torque (620Nm) well and feels great underfoot. The suspension set up is firm (much softer than before I’m told) and the steering is very precise.

The new BMW is still a large SAV, maybe even more so, but it’s the small things, the comfort opening, the drink temperature buttons, the interior and exterior finesse, the 360-degree parking camera with surround vision, the crystal gear knob and the ‘hey BMW ‘ that really do make the difference.

Thanks for the input and help fellow Drivetriber Matthew D'Souza

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