Once again with the orange M3 Lime Rock edition in the background, another cool new BMW is sighted for the first time at the Nurburgring Test Center. This time, it's the all-new X5 M, a performance SUV that seems to have stepped out of the limelight in recent years.
18 photos The X5 M did much of the foundation work for the performance SUV road all automakers drive on. It proved that a big 4×4 could be fun on the track, not just fast a straight line like a Range Rover Sport.
The current generation of X5 will be the shortest lived yet. It's derived from the platform of the old one and went into production in 2013. BMW is going to skip the mid-life refresh (LCI) and just launch an all-new model with the technology from the G30 5 Series.
By next year, we should have a brand new X5 M50i and M50d. They will be faster, more agile than before, but not as fast as the X5 M. This is the first time the performance model has been spotted, suggesting it's a year or more from being launched. Most of the front end is unchanged, and it's wearing mismatched wheels, perhaps an indication that the rears are changed more often.
The only clear sign that this is the M car comes at the back, where quad exhaust pipes have been provisionally installed. While the powertrain hasn't been launched on any other car yet, it is already known – the 600 horsepower twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 from the M5 and M8 Coupe. Of course, it's going to send power through permanent xDrive, but a rear-biased differential setting might be available as well.
As for the design, this takes some getting used to, but the current F15 generation is no beauty either. A man called Calvin Luk made this X5 in the image of the X3, and he seems to think kidney grilles should almost look like circles. From the back, it's almost like an oversized X1, thanks to new taillights that no longer have that L design element.
And if this isn't big enough for you, BMW is likely to make an X7 M in a few years. An X7 M50i for sure!
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