Many car enthusiasts bemoan luxury SUVs, and think that they’ve ruined the luxury car segment. Regardless of whether or not this is true is irrelevant, because the luxury SUV is here to stay, like it or not. Are they a bit pointless? Sure, but as I’ve said before, any car that isn’t a Toyota Camry is technically pointless. Cars are emotional purchases, so if someone likes a big BMW SUV, even though they’ll never use its cargo capacity to anywhere near its fullest or go anywhere off tarmac, they should buy one.
The kinds of luxury SUV people seem to complain about most are the performance versions. BMW X5 M/X6 M, Mercedes-Benz GLE AMG and Porsche Cayenne Turbo are all labeled as pointless, expensive and unnecessary vehicles.
However, despite the auto journalists who whine and complain about such topics, these hyper-SUVs sell faster than car companies can make them. There’s something inherently desirable about a two-ton elephant that can sprint like Usain Bolt, so they sell.
Now, though they are desirable, like all unnecessary luxuries in life, are they good value?
Let’s look at the X5 M in comparison to the standard X5 50i. Both can carry five to seven passengers, both have more luxury than one could ever need, both have enough active safety features to make them feel like the Millenium Falcon and both have twin-turbo 4.4 liter V8s. The difference comes by the way of performance. The X5 xDrive50i can hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, which is massively quick for a vehicle weighing in at a pavement crushing 5,306 lbs. The X5 M does the same sprint in 4 seconds flat, due to its 122 hp advantage. That’s mighty impressive, especially considering that the X5 M actually handles very well. Very well for a 5,300 lb SUV, that is.
So the X5 M seems to be just a better version of the X5, right? Well, considering that the ride quality suffers quite a bit over the standard car, so it can have all of that rubber scorching performance, it isn’t exactly as good of a luxury SUV. The standard X5 is supremely quiet and comfortable as well as being fast. It can’t handle nearly as well as its M tuned brethren, but it isn’t exactly bad, either. So the X5 M trades a bit of comfort for some added performance. That seems fair.
Where the X5 M starts to fall down, in comparison to the standard X5 xDrive50i, is the price. The X5 xDrive50i starts life at $70,000, whereas the X5 M starts at $98,000. That difference is the cost of a well-equipped Volkswagen GTI. That $28,000 price difference is a lot of money and I’m not so sure the X5 M is $28,000 better than the X5 xDrive50i. So who would spend the extra money on it, if it isn’t necessarily worth it?
Someone who can and wants to, and it’s that simple. The X5 M isn’t almost $30,000 better than the xDrive50i. But it’s that much more desirable. It looks cooler, inside and out, has enough power and handling chops to take on most sports cars and it makes a great exhaust noise.
The X5 M is pure indulgence and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most Porsches can hang with most Ferraris, but given the choice, almost everyone in the world would take the key wearing a Prancing Horse. Desire plays a huge factor in cars of this nature. The X5 M is pointless, there’s no denying it. But it’s cool, and if you can afford its massive price tag and want one, go get it and laugh at the people who’ll just never understand.