So I’m sitting here at George Airport thinking to myself what an incredible personal journey I’ve had thus far. It’s my first time in George and I owe it to BMW South Africa for inviting me to the launch of the fourth generation X5. The trip was short, but it led me to think how we just don’t even attempt to explore portions of our country that we’ve always shown interest in. Maybe it’s because we think we always have time but in actual fact we need to make time for those personal journeys.
Upon arriving in George, myself and other media guests were shuttled to Fancourt Hotel which is situated not too far from the airport. While driving there I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful and green the place was with breath taking mountains partially covered in moody grey clouds. Concealed in the heart of the Garden Route, Fancourt is a golfer’s dream with its pristine and well-manicured grass that surrounds the lake and other water features.
Day one was all about getting that much needed information about the car. Edward Makwana really went in depth regarding the car specs including the new upgrades. A few things stuck out during his presentation, one being that in almost twenty years the X5 has sold over 2.1 million units throughout all the generations. The other point that stuck out was the ability to use your mobile device to gain entry to and start your vehicle. This is called the BMW digital key, which replaces the physical key and keys can be shared with family members via the BMW Connect App. Unfortunately, this is not available yet for iPhone users as it’s only available for South African Android users from the second half of 2019. However, don’t despair, developments are underway to get this functionality to iPhone users. This particular model possesses a new adaptive two-axel air suspension, making for a seamless drive both on and off road.
It was when I was walking up to the vehicle that I realized just how much the car had transformed. Aesthetically, the car really looked amazing. From the big grille, the blue “X” shaped laser headlights that allow up to 500m of visibility at night, to the sleek rear lights that add to the distinct X5 appearance. For the drive I partnered up with Sphe and our first leg of the test drive we rode in the xDrive30d. This model was fitted with the off-road tyres which are an optional extra from BMW. The cockpit has great detailing, simplified, modern and tech friendly. Two features I loved were the wireless charging to eliminate the use of cables. The other being cup holders in the centre console that can be adjusted to keep your beverages either hot or cold. Being a coffee lover this is great as my coffee will never get cold. When we moved over to the M50d one major step up was the new design of the gear knob, stop/start button (that has moved to next to the gear knob) and the menu button which is an optional extra. I’m not a flashy guy but I really liked how it was designed and put together. Obviously, this model has a little bit more power but I found that cruising at 60km/h in a suburban area is just as pleasurable as doing 120km/h on the highway. During the drive of both the xDrive30d and M50d the rain kept pouring, but this didn’t affect the control of the big SUV as it reminded us why it has been titled “The Boss”, it just consistently stuck to the road.
The X5 is spacious, handles well and I especially loved the M50d while driving through the suburbs. Both model variants reap comfort and it easily maintains critical features that make it quintessentially BMW with a little addition of much needed new features. The xDrive30d has a claimed combined fuel efficiency of 6.8 to 6.0 litres per 100km and the M50d a claimed 7.2 to 6.8 litres per 100km. The diesel engines in these cars make it reasonably fuel efficient. Pricing for the X5 is set to begin at R1 194 296 and reach R1 502 581 this being for the M50d.
Thinking back to this experience and before boarding my flight back to Johannesburg, a thought that kept springing to mind is how great it would be to do something else for the first time. Perhaps I should jot down a bucket list of sorts…
Writer & Photographer: Tshego Mmahlatji