Australia should have a diesel future within six years.
BMW Australia boss Guenther Seemann believes the local car industry will follow Europe and become 80 per cent diesel, but only if Holden and Ford produce oil-burning Commodores and Falcons.
“If I were CEO of these companies I would develop a diesel V8,” Seemann says.
His comments come after BMW's own sales of diesels hit 33.1 per cent in January as the brand expands its diesel line-up.
Seemann believes diesel will continue to grow because “there is no way down for petrol prices”. The other factor in diesel growth, he says, is the advances in performance.
BMW has entered the high-performance, four-wheel-drive fray with its new X5 3.0sd, a twin-turbo version of its six-cylinder diesel.
It is aimed at taking on the sports-orientated diesel four-wheel-drives, including the Audi Q7 V8 TDI, Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI and Range Rover V8 Turbo Diesel.
Though BMW reps concede the new model will take some sales from its current X5 3.0d, they are adamant the new car is crucial to the growth of the X5 and BMW's diesel future.
“X5 business is very important to us,” the product and market planning manager for BMW Australia, David Lederer, says.
“There's potential to grow that business by having a diesel that can get additional incremental sales.”
He says thanks to the fuel efficiency of the diesels now being matched by performance, customers no longer see them as a compromise.
“That's what our figures are showing. Diesel offerings are so good in terms of torque that I don't think people are buying them just because of efficiency. I think people are responding to the torque and dynamism.”
On the road, the new X5 3.0sd is as expected. The strong chassis still stands out and the new engine provides even more of a chance to exploit it.
BMW's solid reputation for building superb powerplants remains intact. The X5 is smooth and has plenty of torque to get the two-tonne four-wheel-drive up to speed.
With 565Nm on tap from 2000 revs, the X5 isn't sluggish to accelerate, but it does lack some of the punch of the Touareg with its 750Nm.
BMW's claimed consumption figure of 8.8 litres for 100km in combined city/country driving was optimistic during our test drive. Over the course of four hours of spirited driving on country roads, we averaged 11.7 litres for 100km.
Given that this is another addition to the X5 range, BMW has kept the model line-up simple with only two variants; a standard 3.0sd and the option of a sports package.
Prices for the entry-level 3.0sd start at $102,800 and the sports package begins at $107,300.