The good members of the Owaka Golf Club, a nine-hole course in the midst of the South Island's Catlins coastline, didn't quite realise that the big BMW that had turned up in their carpark was something special.
All they knew was the bloke behind the wheel was famous. He was none other than former New Zealand Open champion, five-time British Open competitor and 15-year Japanese Tour veteran David Smail, who'd arrived to play golf with them. On their course.
It was all part of a BMW New Zealand sponsorship association with golf in this country, and Smail had agreed to play at Owaka for a television golf show on a course said to be the most southern on the South Island mainland.
The tall Hamiltonian was promptly teamed up with Muzz the Fuzz (local cop), Round Boy (named that when he was born) and Joe 90 (golfers will understand where that nickname comes from), and off they headed to enjoy the wonders of this little layout on DOC land along the banks of the Owaka River.
BMW X5 M50D
POWER PLANT: 3.0-litre M Performance TwinPower common-rail direct-injected diesel engine with three turbochargers, 280 kW at 4000-4400 rpm, 740 Nm at 2000-3000 rpm.
RUNNING GEAR: xDrive all-wheel drive. Eight-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic. Double-track control-arm front suspension, rear is air suspension with automatic self levelling. Hydraulic rack- and-pinion steering with M-specific Servotronic.
HOW BIG: Length 4857mm, width 2010mm, height 1766mm, wheelbase 2933mm
HOW MUCH: $167,900
WHAT'S GOOD: Massively flexible performance potential thanks to those three turbochargers.
WHAT'S NOT: Hard to keep at 100 kmh!
OUR VERDICT: This BMW X5 M50d will provide sensational motoring for the limited number of well-heeled motorists who can afford it.
They were followed by almost the club's entire playing membership of 10 ladies and 30 men, thus leaving behind the special BMW that the golf pro had arrived in.
But David Smail knew what it was all about though. He had already experienced the performance potential of the new BMW X5 M50d, a triple-turbo diesel-powered sports activity vehicle that has just been added to the marque's lineup of M Performance models.
Under the bonnet of this SAV is a new 280 kW six-cylinder, in-line diesel engine with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology, which BMW claims is the most powerful volume-produced six-cylinder diesel engine in the world.
The 3.0-litre engine's unique triple turbocharging technology delivers a whopping 740 newton metres of torque in the 2000 to 3000 rpm range, and its maximum power of 280 kilowatts is reached between 4000 and 4400 rpm.
A maximum engine speed of 5400 rpm and a specific output of 93.6 kW per litre of engine capacity all underlines a level of performance potential previously unheard of in a diesel power plant.
At low revs, only a small turbocharger with variable turbine geometry is active. Above around 1500 rpm this is supported by a second, larger, turbocharger. Then, when the revs move upwards through 2600 rpm, a third and much larger turbocharger kicks in to boost pressure and power output right up to the 5400 rpm red line.
It all adds up to fantastic performance for a vehicle that weighs in at close to 2.2 tonnes. Its sprint from standstill to 100kmh is just 5.4 seconds and it is capable of keeping on accelerating to a top speed of 250kmh.
And yet, thanks to various new-age fuel efficiency measures BMW calls Efficient Dynamics, the X5 M50d's average fuel consumption is 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
The vehicle's body shell and powertrain mountings, springs and dampers, and mapping of the hydraulic steering, have all been modified to give it M characteristics.
M-specification tuning of chassis components extends to electronically controlled dampers and active anti-roll control of BMW's Adaptive Drive, which is available as standard on this X5. It also has air suspension with automatic self-levelling at the rear axle.
This new model is also quietly visually distinctive, with a special front apron with large air inlets and horizontal trim bars, big 20-inch wheels, and V8-styled tailpipes.
Standard specification includes the M-tuned servotronic steering, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, head-up display, and satellite navigation. The interior also gets M-designation door sill finishes, an M leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, and sports seats with contrast stitching in white and M lettering.
It all adds up to one impressive BMW. Not that the Owaka golfers really cared though. By the end of the day they were just happy to line up with their new mate David Smail and pose for a photograph with the big SUV.
Oh - but there was one other person who took a real interest in the X5 M50d. That was the lawman who nailed this writer for travelling too fast in the vehicle the following day. Not Muzz the Fuzz, though ...
- © Fairfax NZ News