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BMW X5M 2020 review: Competition

The X5 M Competition is a monster in more ways than one.
EXPERT RATING
8.3
The X5 M makes a lot of sense in 2020. Buyers are increasingly turning towards SUVs, but they also don't want to forgo high performance. Well, BMW M has gone ahead and done them one hell of a favour: the new Competition is family friendly and piping hot.

Way back in 2009, the X5 was the first SUV to get the go-fast treatment from BMW’s high-performance M division. At the time, it was a crazy thought, but in 2020, it’s easy to see why Munich went down the (then) road less travelled.

Now in its third generation, the X5 M is better than ever, partly thanks to BMW Australia’s insistence on forgoing its ‘regular’ variant for the piping-hot Competition version.

But just exactly how good is the X5 M Competition? We had the unenviable task of putting it to test to find out.

BMW X5 2020: M COMPETITION
Safety rating
Engine Type4.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$209,900

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

In our humble opinion, the X5 is one of the best-looking SUVs on the market today, so it’s no surprise the X5 M Competition is a knockout in its own right.

Up front, it cuts an imposing figure thanks to its version of BMW’s signature kidney grille, which has a double-slat insert and is finished in gloss-black like most of the exterior trim.

  • Up front the Competition cuts an imposing figure thanks to its version of BMW’s signature kidney grille. Up front the Competition cuts an imposing figure thanks to its version of BMW’s signature kidney grille.
  • Laserlight headlights add a touch of menace. Laserlight headlights add a touch of menace.
  • At the rear, the visual aggro is most apparent thanks to the sculpted bumper. At the rear, the visual aggro is most apparent thanks to the sculpted bumper.
  • The X5 M Competition measures 4938mm long, 2015mm wide and 1747mm tall. The X5 M Competition measures 4938mm long, 2015mm wide and 1747mm tall.
  • A chunky diffuser plays host to the bi-modal exhaust system’s black chrome 100mm tailpipes. A chunky diffuser plays host to the bi-modal exhaust system’s black chrome 100mm tailpipes.

That said, it’s the front bumper that sucks you in with its large air dam and side air intakes, all of which have honeycomb inserts.

Even Laserlight headlights add a touch of menace thanks to their integrated dual-hockey-stick LED daytime running lights, which look plain angry.

Around the side, the X5 M Competition is a little more restrained, with the 21- (front) and 22-inch (rear) alloy wheels the obvious giveaway, while the more aggressive side mirrors and air breathers are a lesson in subtlety.

The X5 M Competition comes with the 21- (front) and 22-inch (rear) alloy wheels. The X5 M Competition comes with the 21- (front) and 22-inch (rear) alloy wheels.

At the rear, the visual aggro is most apparent thanks to the sculpted bumper, which incorporates a chunky diffuser that plays host to the bi-modal exhaust system’s black chrome 100mm tailpipes. Utterly delicious, we say.

Inside, BMW M has put its best foot forward to make the X5 M Competition feel that little bit more special than the X5.

The eyes are immediately drawn to the multifunction front sports seats, which manage to be super supportive and super comfortable at the same time.

The middle and lower dashboard, door inserts, armrests, knee rests and door bins, are covered in supple Merino leather. The middle and lower dashboard, door inserts, armrests, knee rests and door bins, are covered in supple Merino leather.

Like the middle and lower dashboard, door inserts, armrests, knee rests and door bins, they’re covered in supple Merino leather (Silverstone grey and black in our test vehicle), which even has honeycomb insert stitching in some sections.

Black Walknappa leather trims the upper dashboard, door shoulders, steering wheel and gear selector, with the latter two unique to the X5 M Competition, alongside the red start-stop button and M-specific seat belts, scuff plates and floor mats.

A black Alcantara headliner adds some more luxury to the equation, while our test vehicle’s gloss carbon-fibre trim ensures there’s some sport in it, too.

Technology-wise, there’s the 12.3-inch touchscreen, which is powered by the now-familiar BMW Operating System 7.0, although this version gets M-specific content. That said, it still has gesture and always-on voice control, but both fall short of the rotary dial’s greatness.

The 12.3-inch touchscreen is powered by the BMW Operating System 7.0. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is powered by the BMW Operating System 7.0.

The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and windshield-projected head-up display get the biggest M makeovers, though, with the new M Mode giving them a focused theme (and turning off the advanced driver-assist system) for spirited driving.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

Measuring 4938mm long, 2015mm wide and 1747mm tall, the X5 M Competition is well and truly a large SUV, and that means good things for its practicality.

Cargo capacity is generous, at 650L, but can be increased to a truly massive 1870L with the 40/60 split-fold rear bench stowed – an action that can be done via the boot’s manual-release latches.

  • Cargo capacity is a generous 650L. Cargo capacity is a generous 650L.
  • The boot has six tie-down points for securing loads. The boot has six tie-down points for securing loads.
  • The boot can be increased to a massive 1870L. The boot can be increased to a massive 1870L.
  • There is a spare wheel under the boot. There is a spare wheel under the boot.

The boot has six tie-down points for securing loads, as well as two bag hooks and two side storage nets. There’s also a 12V power outlet, but the best part is the power-operated parcel shelf, which stows itself underfloor when not in use. Awesome!

There are plenty of genuine in-cabin storage options, too, with both the glovebox and central bin of the large variety, while the front door bins can carry an astounding four regular bottles. The rear door bins can fit three apiece.

The two cupholders at the front of the centre console actually have heating and cooling, which is pretty hot/cool (bad pun intended).

The second row’s fold-down armrest has a pair of basic cupholder as well as a shallow tray, which joins the small driver-side cubby as the two most random storage spaces on hand, while map pockets are attached to front seat backrests.

Given the size on offer, it’s no surprise the second row is nice place to sit in. Behind my 184cm driving position, more than four inches of legroom is on offer, while headroom is also generous, at two inches, despite the standard fitment of a panoramic sunroof.

The second row is nice place to sit in, with plenty of room behind the driver. The second row is nice place to sit in, with plenty of room behind the driver.

Better yet, the transmission tunnel is quite short, meaning there’s plenty of footwell to go around, which will come in handy given the rear bench can accommodate three adults abreast with relative ease.

Child seats are also a cinch thanks to the outboard seats’ top-tether and ISOFIX anchorage points – and the generous aperture of the rear doors.

Connectivity-wise, there’s a wireless smartphone charger, a USB-A port and a 12V power outlet ahead of the aforementioned front cupholders, while a USB-C port is found in the central bin.

Rear occupants only get access to a 12V power outlet, which is below their central air vents. Yep, the kids won’t be happy with the lack of USB ports to recharge their devices with.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Priced from $209,900 plus on-road costs, the new X5 M Competition is $21,171 dearer than its non-Competition predecessor and commands a $58,000 premium over the M50i, although buyers are compensated for the extra spend.

Standard equipment not already mentioned includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-folding side mirrors with heating, soft-close doors, roof rails, a hands-free power-operated split tailgate and LED tail-lights.

Inside, satellite navigation with live traffic, wireless Apple CarPlay support, DAB+ digital radio, a 16-speaker Harman/Kardon surround-sound system, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable front seats with heating, a power-adjustable steering column, four-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and ambient lighting feature.

Standard equipment includes LED tail-lights. Standard equipment includes LED tail-lights.

Our test vehicle is finished in stunning Marina Bay Blue metallic paintwork, which is one of several no-cost options.

Speaking of which, the options list is surprisingly short, but a highlight is the $7500 Indulgence Package, which bundles in some features that should be standard at this price point, such as cooled front seats, a heated steering and heated rear seats.

The X5 M Competition’s main rivals are the wagon versions of the yet-to-be-released second-generation Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S and Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($241,600), which has been kicking around for a couple of years now.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The X5 M Competition is motivated by a monstrous 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, which punches out a formidable 460kW of power at 6000rpm and 750Nm of torque from 1800-5800rpm, with the former up 37kW, while the latter is unchanged.

The X5 M Competition is motivated by a monstrous 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine. The X5 M Competition is motivated by a monstrous 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine.

Once again, a near-perfect eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission (with paddle-shifters) is responsible for swapping gears here.

This combination helps the X5 M Competition sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in a supercar-scaring 3.8 seconds. And, no, that is not a typo.
 

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

The X5 M Competition’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 12.5 litres per kilometre, while its claimed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 286 grams per kilometre. Both are a little keen considering the level of performance on offer.

In reality, though, the X5 M Competition really likes a drink – a very large drink. We averaged 18.2L/100km over 330km of driving, which predominately took place on country roads, while the rest was an even split between highways city and traffic.

Yes, there was plenty of spirited driving, so a more balanced real-world figure would be lower – but not by much. Indeed, this is a vehicle you buy if you don’t care how much it costs to fill up.

Speaking of which, the X5 M Competition’s 86L fuel tank takes 95RON petrol at minimum.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Surprise, surprise: the X5 M Competition is an absolute hoot in a straight line – and around corners.

The level of performance on tap is unhinged, with the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 serving up body shot after body shot.

Off the line, the X5 M Competition hunkers down and then delivers its 750Nm just above idle (1800rpm), holding it all the way to 5800rpm. That’s a staggeringly wide torque band, one that ensures it will relentlessly pull in any gear.

And just as the torque curve springs back into action, peak power arrives at 6000rpm and reminds you that you’re dealing with 460kW underfoot. Make no mistake, this is a truly epic engine.

A lot of the credit has to go to the eight-speed torque-converter automatic, though, as it is almost flawless. We particularly like its responsiveness – it literally kicks down a ratio or two before you think you’ve pushed the accelerator pedal hard enough.

That said, it often has a hard time recognising when the fun is over, holding onto lower gears for longer than required before eventually upshifting.

The X5 M Competition is an absolute hoot in a straight line – and around corners. The X5 M Competition is an absolute hoot in a straight line – and around corners.

And while it’s smooth, it is still quick in operation. Just like the throttle, the transmission has three settings, which progressively up the ante. For the latter, the softest setting is too soft, while the medium setting is just right, and the hardest setting is best left for the track.

Needless to say, we adore this combination, but one word of warning: the bi-modal sports exhaust system doesn’t serve up enough aural pleasure. There’s no mistaking this for anything but a booming V8 soundtrack, but characterful crackles and pops are absent.

Now, put your hand up if you assume every M model has a bone-crunching ride… Yes, us too… But the X5 M Competition is surprisingly the exception to the rule.

It comes with Adaptive M Suspension Professional, which consists of double-wishbone front and five-link rear axles with adaptive dampers, which mean there’s bandwidth to play with, although BMW M usually targets sportiness over comfort, even for their softest setting.

Not this time, though, as the X5 M Competition rides a lot better than expected, no matter the setting. Simply put, it’s compliant when other M models are not.

Does this mean it deals with all road imperfections with aplomb? Of course not, but it’s more than liveable. Potholes aren’t nice (but when are they?), and its firmer tune makes speed bumps more challenging to deal with as a passenger, but they’re not deal-breakers.

Despite the apparent focus on in-cabin comfort, the X5 M Competition is still an absolute beast through the bends.

When you’ve got a 2310kg kerb weight, physics are well and truly working against you, but BMW M evidently said, ‘To hell with the science’.

The results are mind-boggling. The X5 M Competition has no right being this agile. In the twisty stuff, it feels like a much smaller car to drive.

Yes, there’s still body roll to contend with in the corners, but most of it is cancelled out by the stunning active anti-roll bars, which do their best to keep things balanced. Handling is also improved by the chassis’ increased torsional stiffness.

Of course, the X5 M Competition’s electric power steering also deserves a shout-out here. It’s super direct, so much so that it’s almost twitchy, but we really love how sporty it feels. Feedback through the wheel is also excellent, which makes cornering even easier.

As always, the steering has two settings, with Comfort well-weighted, while Sport adds a little too much heft for most drivers.

This set-up goes a step further with all-wheel steering, which adds a lot of the agility. It sees the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to their front counterparts at low speed to improve manoeuvrability, and in the same direction at high speed to optimise stability.

And, of course, the rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel-drive system provides prodigious grip alongside the Active M Differential, which makes the rear axle a better performer when powering out of corners with earnest.

As we found out on some very icy country roads, the electronics let the driver get away with just enough fun (or terror) before stepping in and keep things on track. M xDrive also has a looser Sport setting, but needless to say, we didn’t explore due to the prevailing conditions.

Given the outputs on hand, the X5 M Competition comes with an M Compound Brake system that consists of massive 395mm front and 380mm brakes discs with six- and single-piston callipers respectively.

Braking performance is strong – and it needs to be – but of greater interest is this set-up’s two pedal-feel options: Comfort and Sport. The former is relatively soft from the get-go, while the latter gives plenty of initial resistance, which is right up our alley.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

ANCAP awarded the diesel versions of the X5 a maximum five-star safety rating in 2018. As such, the petrol X5 M Competition is currently unrated.

Advanced driver-assist systems impressively extend to autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, speed-limit recognition, high-beam assist, driver attention alert, tyre pressure and temperature monitoring, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, park assist, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, among others. Yep, there’s not much missing here…

Other standard safety equipment includes seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain plus driver’s knee), the usual electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and brake assist (BA), among others.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Like all BMW models, the X5 M Competition has a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is well behind the five-year standard set by Mercedes-Benz and Genesis in the premium segment.

That said, the X5 M Competition also comes with three years of roadside assistance.

And its service intervals are every 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first. Several capped-price servicing plans are available, with the regular five-year/80,000km version costing $4134, which, while expensive, is not surprising at this price point.

Verdict

After spending a day with the BMW X5 M Competition, we can’t help but wonder if it’s the ultimate vehicle for families.

On one hand, it nails the practicality brief and is loaded with standard equipment, including the key advanced driver-assist systems. On the other, its performance in a straight line and around corners is otherworldly. Oh, and it looks sporty and feels luxurious, too.

That said, we could absolutely live with the high fuel bill if this was our daily driver, but there’s only one problem: does anyone have a spare $250,000?

Is the new BMW X5 M Competition the ultimate family vehicle? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
 

Pricing guides

$154,900
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$99,900
Highest Price
$209,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
M COMPETITION 4.4L, PULP $209,900 2020 BMW X5 2020 M COMPETITION Pricing and Specs
M50d 3.0L, Diesel $151,900 2020 BMW X5 2020 M50d Pricing and Specs
M50i 4.4L, PULP $151,900 2020 BMW X5 2020 M50i Pricing and Specs
M50i PURE 4.4L, PULP $136,900 2020 BMW X5 2020 M50i PURE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Design9
Practicality9
Price and features8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption6
Driving9
Safety9
Ownership7
Justin Hilliard
Deputy News Editor

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