Like the X6 M, BMW's X5 M features a high-output V8 under its hood. But unlike the X6, this Autobahn cruiser has a decidedly traditional SUV shape.
BMW put the M through extreme durability testing in the southwestern part of the United States, taking advantage of the hot temperatures, miles of desert roadways, and mountains with steep grades in order to prove the worthiness of the M badge.
The X5 M offers the same utility as the regular X5, with the addition of a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 delivering 555 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and peak torque is 501 pound-feet, available between 1,500 and 5,650 rpm. The crossover can sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, according to the automaker.
BMW is referring to the new 4.4-liter motor as its "M TwinPower Turbo" unit. The name reflects the fact that the motor features Twin Scroll Twin Turbo Technology and a common exhaust manifold encompassing both rows of cylinders.
The X5 M (and X6 M) are the first xDrive all-wheel-drive vehicles from BMW to sport the "M" badge. Coupled with special "M" air suspension featuring Adaptive Drive and the newly developed Servotronic power steering, the performance SAV promises very competent handling, despite it's serious heft.
Other high-tech features include launch control for maximum acceleration and an "M" six-speed automatic optimized for performance. Drivers can manually select gears using either paddles or an an electronic gear selector lever.
Electronically controlled, variable power distribution to the front and rear axle prevents even the slightest tendency to over -- or understeer right from the start, before DSC Dynamic Stability Control is even required to cut in.
Although traction control is standard, the M Dynamic Mode (MDM) greatly reduces the aggressiveness of the system. The MDM setting allows the driver to enter a controlled drift and push the vehicle's handling to the limit. There's also a DSC-Off Mode for drivers seeking a more purist experience.
Interior options are what would be expected from a true luxury maker such as BMW, and include an interior much more like BMW's 7-series sedans than a sport-utility. All materials are top quality, and the perforated upholstery is soft and comfortable. Second row seating is spacious, but the third-row seats are best left to the children. Climate and audio can be controlled independently, as well as by that iDrive single-knob computer-screen system (standard on both models) which has been the object of much criticism, but does make the navigation system easy to operate.
Also note that the iDrive system (4th generation) received substantial overhauling for the latest model year -- intended to improve user friendliness. The new iDrive system features new graphics, controls, improved menu structures, more functions and more intuitive function.
A lengthy list of options and features includes steering-linked headlamps, multi-adjustable front seats, satellite navigation, rear seat entertainment system, back-up camera, full-roof sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, driver's seat massage, front and rear climate zones and more.
Though the logic of building a performance version of a big, heavy and aerodynamically challenged SUV is questionable, that doesn't mean that the X5 M faces a dearth of competition. Far, from it, in fact. Rivals to the BMW include the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged and, at the lower end of the price spectrum, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.