Caraganza First Drive Review 2024 BMW X5 M Competition: A hippo on a sugar rush

In a world where sports sedans are vanishing quicker than daylight on a winter afternoon its good to see that those among us who still love the thrill of speed and power haven’t been swept aside.

Gaze down any row of suburban driveways and you’ll see nothing but SUVs and crossovers with only an occasional sedan hidden, almost secretly, among them.  Those few sedans are more and more plugged into cords running into the garage; even fewer of those are anything approaching “sports sedan” status.

Truth is sports sedans, with powerful engines under the hood and beefed-up suspensions, are becoming extinct, disappearing faster than ice cubes in a desert. Soon sports sedans will be nothing more than stories grandpas tell their grands at Christmas time.

So then, we need to adapt. Leave it to BMW, specifically the mad engineers in Bavaria who belong to the M Branch, to help us to just that: Behold the 2024 BMW X5 M Competition, an SUV with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. This beastly contraption from the M Branch is the automotive equivalent of a roided-up Arnold Schwarzenegger: bulging, aggressive, and absolutely unapologetic.

And I had a chance to spend a lovely week with one recently.

Let’s start with the looks. The X5 M Competition isn’t here to blend in. It’s a brick house on wheels, with gaping air intakes, flared arches, and enough muscular creases to make a bodybuilder weep. It’s the kind of car that makes other SUVs feel inadequate. The massive kidney grilles at the front could ingest a small animal, or a Prius, with ease. It’s a rolling statement that says, “Get out of my way,” and believe me, people will. It makes you wonder if the M Branch designers were binge-watching “Fast & Furious” during its conception.

Inside, it’s all about opulence and technology. The seats are more comfortable than a first-class lounge, with enough adjustability to accommodate Shaquille O’Neal. Every surface is either wrapped in supple leather or brushed metal giving it all a look and feel like a five-star hotel room that’s ready to eat other hotel rooms for breakfast.

BMW’s latest iDrive system is a tech geek’s paradise, with more screens, buttons, and gizmos than the Starship Enterprise. The infotainment system is intuitive, but let’s be honest, you’ll be too busy enjoying the raw power to fiddle with it too much.

Oh, and about that power.  Under the hood lies a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 mild hybrid engine that churns out an eye-watering 617 horsepower. It’s like strapping a rocket to a sumo wrestler. You have 553 lb-ft of torque at your disposal, meaning this SUV can launch from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. That’s quicker than most sports cars and nearly fast enough to bend time and space itself. It makes this SUV like a hippo on a sugar rush. And reminder, this is a 5,000-pound SUV.

But it’s more than just straight-line speed. It handles corners with the tenacity of a terrier chasing a squirrel. The adaptive M suspension is black magic, managing to keep this behemoth planted even when you’re pushing it to the limits. The steering is precise, offering feedback that’s more communicative than a talk show host, and the brakes are robust enough to stop a freight train. It’s a mix of sheer brilliance and mild terror.

Being an SUV, it also needs to be practical. And it is. The rear seats offer plenty of space for the kids, the dog, and enough luggage to stage a small coup. And if you fold down the rear seats, it becomes a cavernous expanse that could carry a small pony or double as an extra bedroom.

And despite all this, it still manages to return a semi-respectable fuel economy, though let’s be honest, if you’re buying a 617-horsepower SUV, you’re not overly concerned about your carbon footprint.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The ride is firm, perhaps too firm for some. On a smooth road, it’s a joy, but hit a pothole, and you’ll feel it in your spine. And all this comes at a price. A hefty one. The base model starts at around $122,000, and once you’ve ticked a few option boxes—my tester had the Executive ($3100), M Drivers ($2500) Packages and the 20-speaker Bowers and Wilkins audio system ($3400) —you’ll be well into six-figure territory. But what you’re paying for is the best of both worlds: the thrill of a sports sedan with the practicality of an SUV.

If I’m honest, trying to squeeze a portly 60 something year old frame into a true sports sedan is not an easy task, so I’m glad such things as the X5 M Competition exist. If you’ve got the cash and a penchant for speed, the 2024 BMW X5 M Competition is your ticket to defying the laws of physics, all while enjoying a massage from the heated seats. Just don’t let the neighbors see you smiling too much; they’ll know you’re having more fun than they are.

And I’ll have much more exciting stories to tell my grands at Christmas time.

The 2024 BMW X5 M Competition
MSRP: $122,300
MSRP (as tested): $ 141,445
Engine: 4.4-liter twin turbo gas mild hybrid 617 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, 553 lb. ft torque @1800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage: (EPA): 13 city, 18 highway, 15 combined
Fuel Mileage: (as tested, mixed conditions): 16 mpg
Base Curb weight: 5,455 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions
Length: 195.0 in.
Overall width with mirrors: 87.3 in.
Overall width without mirrors: 79.3 in.
Height: 68.9 in.
Wheelbase: 117.0 in.

Interior Dimensions
Front head room: 40.8 in.
Front leg room : 9.8 in.
Front shoulder room: 60
Rear head room: 39.4 in.
Rear leg room: 37.4 in.
Rear shoulder room: 58.1 in.
Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 33.9 cu.ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 72.3 cu.ft.

4 Basic Years / 50,000 Basic Miles
4 Drivetrain Years / 50,000 Drivetrain Miles
12 Corrosion Years / Unlimited Corrosion Miles
8 Hybrid/Electric Components Years / 80,000 Hybrid/Electric Components Miles
4 Roadside Assistance Years / Unlimited Roadside Assistance Miles
3 Maintenance Years / 36,000 Maintenance Miles

Greg Engle