What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?

A friend stopped by my house last Friday with a unusual conveyance. He normally drives a 2008 F-150, which serves him well in his construction work, but today he dropped his other car to a dealer and ended up with a loaner for the day. How lucky of him, then, for the dealer to hand him the keys to a 2020 X5 Xdrive40i fresh of the carrier. obamanotbad.gif. After a couple of hours he got a call from the dealer saying that his car was ready to go and asked if we’d like to go and get some food along the way. Why, sure, who wouldn’t want to spend some time riding in a fancy car. “You’ll drive,” he said. Oh, shit.

Illustration for article titled 2020 BMW X5 Mini Review and DOTS
Photo: Aremmes
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Illustration for article titled 2020 BMW X5 Mini Review and DOTS
Photo: Aremmes

Black on black on black doesn’t look bad from a distance, but up close one quickly notices discrepancies. The bumpers have at least three different finishes, flat textured black, piano black, and body color black, along with what might be intended to look like unpolished metal but instead looks like silver plastic. The flat black plastic trim runs from the rear bumper, along the wheel arches, and under the rocker panels to reach the air dam up front in an apparent race to monopolize the world’s supply of black acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. The rockers get a dollop of chrome trim on top of the flat black plastic, perhaps to keep the chrome trim on the fake side vent company, or perhaps to help the driver and passengers notice that the door sills are right there, or perhaps the artist responsible went on vacation, had a case of chrome withdrawal after having worked on the grille design, and returned to work with a vengeance. That might also explain the hectares of chrome trim around the side windows, which look quite jarring and out of place amongst the unlight vastness of the rest of the car. I think, though, that this wouldn’t look so bad if the car didn’t have black wheels; silver or gray wheels would provide some visual balance. The General RoadBeater® tires don’t help matters, and likely are detrimental to fuel economy as well given that these cars will spend most of their time going to and from the mall.

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The interior has less chrome (hallelujah). Also, as long as the panorama roof remains closed, it’s very dark. Kind of like a Garfield comic without Garfield. It’s good mood lighting that lights up the center stack and console and the door handles when a door is opened whether it’s the middle of a midsummer day or the middle of a midwinter night just to prove how dark the interior is. It also has way too many electrodoodads to distract the driver from the task of avoiding peasants on the road (though if your goal is to drive over peasants, you do you). I counted at least four full-color graphical displays on the dashboard: one resides under the instrument binnacle, another larger one sits on top of the dashboard, and two teensy ones sit between the center HVAC vents to display the temperature of the air that you directed towards your balls, you weirdo. Then, instead of making use of the flexibility of electronic displays to consolidate controls and reduce button count, BMW added MORE BUTTONS all over the place. There are like ten buttons just to control the lights even though Karen will never switch away from auto mode. There’s an army of buttons surrounding the iDrive knob and the center console sex toy gear selector lever. Even the stubby gear lever has buttons for your pleasure. The instrument panel and the infotainment display have lots of little flashy animations to ensure that you never look at the road. There’s a map in the instrument cluster. THERE’S A MOTHERFUCKING ELECTRONIC MAP OF THE ROADS WHERE I’M AVOIDING TO DRIVE OVER THE PEASANTS ON THE MOTHERFUCKING INSTRUMENT CLUSTER. What the fuck, BMW? You’re supposed to build the ultimate driving machine, not the ultimate attention-deficit machine.

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The instrument cluster attempts to justify its LCD panel by displaying different information according to the drivetrain mode selected. When in Comfort mode, it lights up in red and displays speed, RPMs, instantaneous fuel economy, average fuel economy, and distance to empty, while the Eco Pro mode replaces the tach with a larger fuel economy gauge and adds what seems to indicate economy gain over Comfort mode. I didn’t try Sport mode, but I guess that would remove the fuel economy information from the screen. In either case, the map hogs the middle third of the screen, and also gets to steal a bit of land from the left side to display the current speed limit.

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The cruise control is quirky. Pressing SET doesn’t set the cruise speed; you have to press + or - instead. There’s a LIMIT button that one would imagine sets the cruise speed to the current road’s speed limit, but no, that’s what SET does.

Another quirk: that the fuel filler neck has a blank for the plug-in hybrid charging port. The fuel filler cap also has a pointy bit on the inside part; you stick that into the hole on the fuel filler door’s arm to hold the cap there while refueling.

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Dad pants alert!
Dad pants alert!
Photo: Aremmes

So how does it drive? It doesn’t drive. It MOVES. The twin-turbo I6 has seemingly no lag at all, and responds to throttle inputs before you have a chance to prepare your anus for the oncoming thrust. In Eco Pro mode it’ll waft lazily but predictably, inconspicuously relocating the environment around you and leaving the froth on your PSL undisturbed. Comfort mode, however, restores the accelerator’s tip-in, though I think it’s still got too much of it. Any accidental stab of the go pedal in this mode makes the car lunge forward like your mom arriving at the Golden Corral. It’s great for highway on-ramps: line up with the ramp, stab the pedal, lift off, rotate to 90°, start pitching back as you near 10,000 meters altitude, press the spacebar to jettison the first stage and light up the second stage... er... I meant to say, it’ll go fast if you tell it to go fast, no questions about it.

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Would I pay $60k for one of these? I dunno. The price seems in line with the feature list, and if you like its style and have the monetary means, then I guess it’s OK. I certainly wouldn’t spend that money on something that I can’t enjoy looking at and has the potential to distract me into a tree, no matter how easily it’ll let me launch Jebediah into the Mün. For that money, BMW has other products that could better pique my interest.

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Exempli gratiā, the Zupra in Bavarian attire looks better to me than its Japanese twin, even with the beaver-tooth grille, which admittedly looks a lot more restrained here than in the X-mobiles.

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Also nice, the M235i Gran Sedan Coupe, even if it looks like a Corolla from behind.

Illustration for article titled 2020 BMW X5 Mini Review and DOTS
Photo: Aremmes
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In all, it was a good day. I even got to see this AW11 being driven with a lead foot on the turnpike. Nice.

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