REVIEW | Drive the 2020 BMW X5 M50i before buying an X5M

16 September 2020 - 15:48
Pricing for the BMW X5 M50i starts at R1,684,989.
Pricing for the BMW X5 M50i starts at R1,684,989.
Image: Supplied

Not long ago BMW launched the full-fat M Competition versions of its X5 and X6 sport-utility vehicles. The astounding acceleration ability of either model had us awestruck.

The prospect of a 3.8-second claimed 0-100km/h sprint time is wild for any machine – never mind one that weighs as much as a town house development.

But what underwhelmed was the meekness of the acoustics, a consequence of stricter regulations in markets abroad. Legislated quietness, basically. After a session behind the wheel of the X5M, one likened it to a brawny wrestler with a tiny voice.

And then there was the obvious absurdity of something so hefty trying to evince the dynamism one expects from a product birthed by the Motorsport division. Then again, the M badge is no longer as exclusive and focused as it may have been before. The letter can be applied to virtually any BMW model in the stable, starting with a garden variety 118i.

The cabin of the X5 M50i is the epitome of luxury.
The cabin of the X5 M50i is the epitome of luxury.
Image: Supplied

Enter the M50i derivative of the X5. It serves a particular demographic for whom an X5M would be a little too excessive.

You get the same 4,395cc, twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine as you do in the genuine M car. Except this one produces 390kW instead 460kW. Fun fact: the torque figure of 750Nm is the same for the M50i and the X5M. It is marginally slower in the run to 100km/h, at 4.3 seconds. But anyone could learn to live with that disparity.

Working in tandem is a silky eight-speed automatic, whose reflexes are barely felt. In fact, the whole affair of momentum is hushed and cosseting, even when you do plant the power pedal down. It translates into rapid pace, yes, but not so violently as to spill your coffee.

And the distinctive rumble of the cylindrical octet is audible, not intrusive, but definitely there – here you can forgive a somewhat muted character because it is the lower-case M after all.

Performance is almost identical to that of the considerably more expensive BMX X5M.
Performance is almost identical to that of the considerably more expensive BMX X5M.
Image: Supplied

Inside, little has changed since this G05 version of the X5 was launched in 2018. Which is excellent, because there was not much wrong with it in the first place. Except, maybe, for that crystal shifter knob, which still looks like a cheap piece of costume jewellery.

From the sumptuous upholstery, with its classy quilting, to the leather-lined surfaces of the dashboard and other panels, the X5 M50i envelopes occupants in a manner that truly befits its status as a luxury sport-utility vehicle.

And then there is the pricing aspect to consider. Now, we are not for a second suggesting that the M50i is some kind of bargain. At R1,684,989 (starting), this is a costly brute any way you cut it. But then you notice that the X5M kicks off at R2,605,900!

Nearly a million bucks more, for a product that goes only a tiny bit faster and sounds very nearly the same as your M50i. You could take one of these and spend the change on a very, very well-equipped example of that stellar G30 3-Series.


X