The demands of the Chinese car market are very different to those here in Europe. That’s why BMW produces various China-only long-wheelbase curios, including one based on the ‘G20’ 3-series. And now, there’s a new stretched offering for the country - the X5.
It’s available in two guises - as an X5 xDrive30Li or xDrive40Li. Either way, you get a wheelbase lengthened by 130mm, providing what BMW describes as “unrivalled space in the second row and commensurately high levels of passenger comfort.”
Curiously, the wheelbase now exactly matches that of the X7. The priciest X-series car is still a little larger, though, since its shell needs to accommodate a third row of seats.
As for the X5 Li models, they get longer rear doors to make ingress and egress easier, and a standard spec designed with the Chinese market in mind. Features include rear seat backrests that tilt further, a panoramic glass sunroof, ambient lighting and a new smartphone tray. We’ll have to just imagine how all that looks, as the press release is missing a shot of the second row of seats.
We don’t have any performance stats, but these shouldn’t differ from the regular wheelbase X5. So, the 30Li’s 2.0-litre inline-four should be good for 258bhp and 295lb ft of torque, while the 3.0-litre inline-six in the 40Li will kick out 325bhp and 33lb ft. As denoted by the ‘xDrive’ bit slapped on the end of the model names, the elongated X5s are exclusively all-wheel drive.
Both cars get adaptive dampers as standard, with xDrive40Li customers given the chance to take the comfort up an extra notch with optional air suspension.
As well as only being sold in China, the X5 Li models will be built in the country too - a first for one of BMW’s posher SUVs. Each will be made at a plant in Dadong, Shenyang, run via a joint venture between BMW and Brilliance Auto. They’ll be available from April.