Published on July 31st, 2018 | by Subhash Nair0
The BMW X5: Unanswered by Benz and Audi Since 2016. Why?
Let’s start this off by saying that I’m not a big fan of SUVs in general. A lot of them are fine, they’re just not my favourite category of car. But the general consensus since the ‘90s was that SUVs are here to stay. They may, in fact, displace station wagons, sedans AND MPVs as they can be configured to fit those roles. Let’s also make a note here: I have never driven the BMW X5, so I can’t say with confidence what I think of the car.
But what I can say is this: it got no serious competition from its German rivals ever since it got a CKD variant in 2016.
Audi Malaysia hinted at the arrival of the 3rd generation Q5 on our shores by 2017 but that never came to be. Mercedes-Benz Malaysia on the other hand, brought in the GLE and its awesome Coupe siblings in early 2016, but have not really pushed the envelope since that launch.
The fully imported GLE 250d 4MATIC AMG Line (RM460K) and GLE 400 4MATIC AMG Line (RM569K) were really competitive in 2016, as BMW only offered the X5 xDrive30d (RM534K) and X5 xDrive35i (RM574K).
But by mid-2016, BMW began to locally produce a new plug-in hybrid variant called the X5 xDrive40e M Sport for just RM389k. And since then, neither one of the German rivals have offered anything to stop BMW’s success.
I find this very odd. Like we mentioned earlier, the potential growth for the premium, mid-to-large SUV cannot have been unknown. MAYBE, because the W166 chassis is on its way out (the thing has been around since 2011), Mercedes-Benz Malaysia saw no reason to start tooling for local production. And MAYBE because Audi Malaysia had made multiple costly mistakes, local production was just too expensive to think about.
Whatever the case, the BMW X5 ended up being a total success. We wouldn’t be surprised if BMW Malaysia sold more X5s in the last 2 years than they have throughout the model’s existence. This is the first time an X5 has been this cheap to buy AND run, about as cheap as the standard 5 series, perhaps.
In fact, the only real competition it got was from Volvo. And we really have to salute Volvo Car Malaysia for putting up a fight on not one front, but THREE. If you wanted a more luxurious SUV with even more seats than the X5, you could get the XC90 (RM381K). And though the XC60 is technically a segment below the X5, it’s still large enough to take away cost-conscious buyers at just RM315K. I mean, that XC60 T8 model is a world beater. Plus, if you were willing to overlook a few more things for the sake of a simpler, SANER powertrain option, the XC60 T5 is there for just RM282K.
So, yes, it would seem that for 2016, 2017, 2018 AND probably 2018 the BMW X5 is going to be the only viable German mid-sized SUV on the market.