The next-generation BMW X5, set to land as a 2019 model, has been spied undergoing testing in base, and potentially, performance-oriented guises.
As with previous spy images of the SUV, the prototypes pictured are bathed in camouflage and some of the styling changes are hard to pick. With that being said, a number of obvious changes immediately catch the eye, none more so than the kidney grilles which are significantly larger than those of the current model. While it’s a little too early to judge, we think the enlarged grilles look a little odd.
Nonetheless, there are some more convincing elements of the 2019 X5’s exterior, including different headlights with LED DRLs, horizontal taillights drastically slimmer than the current model, and squared-off tailpipes.
One of the prototypes spied is also sitting on a set of sporty wheels and could very well be an M-branded variant.
A brand new interior with a different center console layout
Like most German premium carmakers these days, BMW follows a strict evolutionary path when it comes to both exterior and interior redesigns. So color us a bit surprised to see a few changes taking place inside the new X5. Beyond the more rectangular (instead of oval) instrument panel cowl over the digital gauges, there’s a new layout on the center console with different air vents than what we’ve been accustomed to the past decade – yes, we know how that sounds, but remember, this is BMW we’re talking about.
In what could only be characterized as a seismic shift for traditionalists, the Bavarian designers swapped the position of the audio and climate controls, with the former now sitting up high. And like those TV infomercials yell at you at 3am in the morning, but wait, there’s more, because BMW has replaced the ergonomic air-conditioning knobs with what appear to be small toggle switches placed under an equally small digital screen positioned between the central vents. The 5- and 7-Series-sourced steering wheel hinders our view, but we’re hoping that at least one knob has made it out alive for the audio system volume on the left side.
Further back on the lower console between the seats, BMW has revamped the design of the automatic gearbox shifter that looks more compact in size, while adding a plethora of buttons on the left side, including what looks like the start-button. There’s also new toggle switches, one of which is for an off-road mode, as well as the familiar iDrive controller.
Different underpinnings should drastically alter the X5
While the interior and exterior design of the 2019 X5 will likely be all that many customers think about, the most drastic upgrades from the current model will come under the skin. Like the latest-generation 5-Series and 7-Series, BMW’s cluster architecture (CLAR) will underpin the X5.
This will make the SUV longer, lighter, and more rigid than the current model. In X5 M guise, those latter two characteristics could bring about fundamental handling and performance improvements, particularly if a reported weight cut of 250-300 kg (550-660 lbs) comes to fruition.
Another thing to be borrowed from the 7-Series is expected to be the two-axle air suspension, albeit as an option, with lower trim models making do with steel springs and available adaptive dampers.
Plenty of engines to choose from
BMW customers will have a plethora of engines to choose from depending on their location. Included in this range are bound to be a number of 2.0-liter four, 3.0-liter six and 4.4-liter eight-cylinder petrol and 2.0-liter four and 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel units from the 5 and 7-Series. Given BMW’s interest in electrification, it’s probable that a plug-in hybrid mixing a 2.0-liter turbo four with electric power, like the current xDrive40e, is also being developed. In news that will surprise no one, the range-topping X5 M is tipped to use twin-turbo V8 engine delivering up to 600 hp.
A global premiere for the 2019 BMW X5 is expected for later this year, likely at the Paris Motor Show in September.
Additional reporting from John Halas