BMW Wants You To Know The X5 Can Tackle The Desert At Speed

BMW Italy built Monza in the Sahara and raced an X5 round it because why not, you know?
By Wallace Castillo
Cover photo: via BMW.

A lot of people say that BMW's crossovers aren't like other crossovers. That beneath all that heft and functionality, there's a race car just waiting to come out. And if that's what you want to believe, you've got the numbers to back up your case; the X5 40i needs less than half a second more than the 540i 5 Series to reach 60 mph, and the top speed is, for all intents and purposes, the same. BMW's X Series crossovers really can hold their own against actual cars.

How would that straight line speed transfer to the track, though? Is it really realistic to throw a crossover round a turn without it flipping over?

BMW Italy seems to think that it is. And they're also keen to address that other doubt people have about crossovers: can they really handle themselves off-road, like a real SUV? Or at least that's the only possible explanation for them building a perfect replica of legendary Italian race track Monza out in the Sahara and putting an X5 on it. They were even kind enough to film it and put it on YouTube, so we'd all get to see.

Digging the track out of the Moroccan sand took two weeks, and judging by the aerial shots, it does seem to match the original Monza exactly, turn for turn. Which is a good thing; Monza's one of the most high-octane tracks on the F1 circuit, with long straights and fast bends, so a sand version is going to give plenty of opportunities to show an X5 speeding through the desert. That's what the people really want to see, after all.

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