It’s 10pm and Orchard Link is all jammed up — unusual considering it is a Sunday evening. While my irritation levels will usually be mounting, I am, instead, completely unfazed. Sitting at the wheel of the BMW X5 xDrive50i, I am almost 1.8m above the road and have a clear view of what’s causing the pile-up.
Attempts to start roadworks (speaking of which, has anyone noticed the sheer amount along our streets these days?) along Bideford Road have caused one lane to be blocked by a group of cone-clutching migrant workers. Fortunately, the manager has caught sight of the congestion they are causing and has recalled his team. As the traffic starts to flow again, I hit the accelerator and with a throaty growl, the car propels me homeward.
Newly launched in Singapore in January this year, the third-generation X5 remains unchanged in height and size, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating this hulk of an SUV (or SAV, as BMW prefers to call it, with “A” standing for “activity”) — “tank” is the most common description given by green-eyed petrolheads whom I parade the car in front of.
That means there is lots and lots of space inside, allowing passengers to slip and slide over the ultra-soft leather. It has the capacity to expand from five to seven seats via a third row concealed in the boot, which also makes this the perfect vehicle for the car-pooling soccer-mum who might also need to load up on bags full of groceries in between school runs.
Late in picking up the kids? The new-generation V8 engine, with 10 percent more power than its predecessor, guarantees that when the light turns green, you can charge ahead of the pack and quickly overtake those annoying road hogs. The cherry on this cake is its 16 percent more fuel-efficient nature so you can floor the accelerator happily.
Aside from that, the X5 will definitely appeal to the executive who enjoys lording over the road; all this while swathed in a cabin of Dakota leather with contrast-stitching, the colour of which you can choose from a palette of nine options. A panoramic sunroof makes the journey literally a breeze but what is even easier is the driving itself.
The head-up display projected on the windscreen directly in front of me — for my eyes only — tracks my speed and, if the navigation is on, tells me when to do what to get to my destination in the shortest time. Then there’s the free-standing 10.25-inch Control Display upon which a surround view function activates automatically when I’m in tight spaces, giving me a complete aerial view of the car and the obstacles around it (this one really impressed the passengers), thanks to sensors fitted all around the exterior.
The display is where the BMW standard-fitted iDrive operating system is connected to, linking functions such as the radio, telephone, GPS and even voice recording so I can dictate notes and thoughts on the go. It even allows the surfing of the Internet, though in our smartphone age, the feature seems rather redundant.
iDrive is accessed via the Touch Controller knob located next to the gearbox, itself containing a new feature that is worth highlighting — the ability to “write” with my finger, letter by letter, on the touchpad integrated into the top. This comes in handy, for example, when I need to enter the address of my destination.
A slightly more superfluous but fun function is that which lets me choose the ambient lighting colour combination — blue, white or orange, depending on your mood — within the cabin to create a lounge-like experience. LEDs are positioned in spaces, such as the dashboard, foot well and doors, so the experience is pervasive.
But what’s a lounge without a solid sound system? The X5’s poison of choice is from Bang & Olufsen, comprising a 1,200-watt amplifier, 16 speakers and an automatically extending centre speaker on the dashboard with the purpose of providing consistent sound quality in all the seats.
On the outside, the X5 has a more aerodynamic look to it, but without losing its robust and muscular edge. Standing tall at 1.76m in height and stretching out at 4.8m in length, I can imagine it’s truly a sight to behold from the rear view mirror of the car in front of it — which probably explains why I find many vehicles giving way to me as I roam the roads.
Yes, the queen has truly arrived.
BMW X5 xDrive50i
Engine: V8 petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology
Transmission: Eight-speed sport automatic
Power: 450bhp at 5,500-6,000rpm
Torque: 650Nm at 2,000-4,500rpm
Top speed: 250kph
Performance: 0-100kph in 5.0 seconds
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km