Can a diesel be fun?

26w ago


BMW are on a roll. The cars they now manufacture are catapulting them into a brand new territory. Where the older, thicker models have now turned into the bell of the ball. Curvy, pretty looking and on par with todays standards of car beauty, if there ever was such a thing.

One of BMW's best selling engines is its three litre, straight six diesel which provides incredible performance while returning good fuel economy and many happy miles, but that's no secret because the base of its formula is a diesel engine. Anyone who doesn't have a clue about cars will know that a diesel car provides decent power but incredible fuel economy.

So what have BMW's M division gone and done? Well in this X5 and other models available they have given it the name M50d, and all you need to know is that a badge like that stands for the most powerful sporty diesel engine BMW currently make. The motor will get significant upgrades as well as the chassis, brakes and suspension in conjunction with sporty exterior cosmetic upgrades in the form of an M Sport package.

The heart of this car is basically 90% of its talking point. It is a three litre straight six diesel but with not one, not two but three turbos. The engine uses two smaller turbochargers and one large one, with the big turbo being used at precisely the time when it is most efficient. One of the reasons why three turbos are better than two is that the two small turbochargers are always ready to go, and the larger one fills the power gap, which means you do not suffer from a thing called turbolag, the moment when your foot is flat down and the car does not respond to power. The result that BMW have with this is continuous power delivery and zero hesitation.

The results are incredible. This X5 pictured here with M Sport kit will punch out 280kW and 740NM of torque. 5.4 seconds is all the time it needs to get to 100km/h and all while returning a claimed 7.5 litres per hundred kilometres which is very achievable in the right conditions but I myself however found it just over 9 litres per hundred in real world traffic and general usage. Driving vigorously saw me touch the upper 13 litres which isn't bad, I mean it is a performance diesel after all.

The cabin can be specced with very pretty interior choices, our particular model had a nice chocolate brown to compliment the super black exterior. BMW's adaptive LED lights with an incredible 800 metres of range can be chosen too which provide excellent lighting even in the darkest of conditions. The ride quality was good with excellent handling for an SUV, and paired with good cabin insolation provided a very smooth silky ride.

So is this car any good then? Well with prices starting at R1.3 million it is a bit hefty, however in the space of gas guzzling performance SUVs, this X5 M50d is very well worth it. The power and torque of a petrol engine and the frugal economy you would expect from a good diesel. The best of both worlds really. It's super fun and easy to drive and has plenty of space in the back for three comfortably as well as luggage.

The future of motoring is electric, we know this. All car makers are making smaller engines, lowering emissions and creating hybrids using joint petrol and electric powered cars. BMW have taken that concept and extended the life of the internal combustion engine with the use of performance diesels. It gives us everything we want right now but saves mother nature for just a bit longer. I like this idea and until electric cars become fun, its the thrill of a liquid going into an engine making it go faster that will forever be my pick at the end of the day.