Automakers spend lots of time and money trying to convince people that their SUVs are seriously capable in off-road situations. On the flip side, these people movers – especially those with posh nameplates – have a reputation as being shopping mall warriors that might only see dirt when it washes across the pavement after a storm. BMW wanted to leave no doubts about what its X5 can do when the tarmac turns to sand, because it literally turned tarmac to sand by recreating the legendary Monza racing circuit in the Sahara Desert of Morocco.

In a press release with no less than 47 photos documenting the adventure (all of which you can peruse in the gallery below), BMW described the herculean process of bringing the sweeping curves and straightaways of the famous Italian race track to the desert. A team of 50 people spent two weeks surveying, measuring, and ultimately building the course, faithfully matching the iconic corners on a proper 1:1 scale. The work included moving over 3,500 cubic meters of sand, which may sound a bit like cheating on BMW’s part but trust us, when you see the video above and the photos below you’ll realize there’s still all kinds of sand left to play in.

Gallery: BMW X5 At Monza Desert Track Replica

Why go through so much trouble? That’s a good question, because we reckon the same thing could’ve been accomplished by just clearing an improvised course in the sand. Lest we forget, however, that BMW doesn’t build a Sport Utility Vehicle. It builds a Sports Activity Vehicle, which is really the same thing but with aspirations of greatness on-road as well as off. By the same token, driving on a sandy replica of Monza is surely just as thrilling as driving the actual tarmac course, right? Are you following this? Yeah, we aren’t either.

Here’s another theory: BMW went to considerable effort to recreate Monza in the desert because it could, and because you would absolutely do it too if you had the means. Did you see the video at the top of the page? Thrashing an X5 through the desert looks like 100 levels of fun, and we love the idea of going through the motions as if we were at Monza.

And oh yeah, the X5 looks like it’s plenty capable off-road as well – especially the models depicted here with the xOffroad package. Come to think of it, that was probably the real goal all along. Well played, BMW.

Source: BMW

Hide press release Show press release

The iconic bends of Monza traced in the ancient sand of the Sahara.

The new BMW X5 challenges the rugged desert of Morocco. The Monza circuit, one of the most famous in the world, reproduced on a 1:1 scale in the Sahara Desert for an incomparable undertaking. The new BMW X5 challenges one of the most hostile terrains on the planet. Between sand dunes and rocks, the Bavarian SAV has proved its ability off-road.


Munich/San Donato Milanese. For the launch of the new BMW X5 (fuel consumption combined: 11.6 – 6.0 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 264 – 158 g/km; provisional figures), BMW Italy has created an undertaking like no other: bringing the iconic bends of Monza into the secular sand of the Sahara. The historic Monza circuit was reproduced in Merzouga, in one of the most desert areas of Morocco: a route of 5,793 meters that stands out among the sands and rocks of the Sahara. Every bend, every straight section, every chicane has been faithfully reconstructed on a 1:1 scale, both in the radius of curvature and in the distances.

For two weeks, more than 50 people including engineers, surveyors, technicians, workers and pilots have worked and contributed to realize this incredible project. It took 4 days of study and preparation with surveyors, engineers and architects, with 8 post for topographic design and simulation. For 9 days, 4 bulldozers and 4 trucks dug 24 cubic meters at a time to prepare the soil and remove excess sand; while 2 graders and 2 compactors have defined and compacted the track. Over 3500 cubic meters of earth have been moved to give life to the off-road track.

A monumental work that culminates in an unprecedented challenge: the new BMW X5, after having crossed Europe on a journey in stages, has reached the circuit of "Monza, Sahara" in the impervious Moroccan desert where, in the dunes of sand and rocks, has challenged one of the most hostile terrain on the planet and faced Lesmo, Ascari and Parabolica, giving evidence of its off-road ability, thanks to the new xOffroad package, which makes its debut on this model. The new BMW X5 was welcomed in Morocco by the new BMW R 1250 GS, the enduro motorcycle par excellence of BMW Motorrad, recently renovated with a new boxer engine, which was the forerunner in this undertaking.

The new BMW X5: the xOffroad package is an absolute news. 
The BMW X family originated from the BMW X5 and today, in its fourth generation, this model stands out as it has never done before, both in terms of aesthetics and its modernity. The new BMW X5 impresses with its wealth of innovations and represents the most convincing incarnation to date of the familiar Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) model: the ability to venture off-road perfectly combined with the pleasure of dynamic driving. Like its predecessors, the BMW X5 will be built at the Spartanburg BMW plant in the United States. The launch on the Italian market will be on 24 and 25 November 2018.

The new design of the Bavarian SAV enhances safety and solidity, conferred by the bigger dimensions, if compared to its predecessor, that contribute to the impressive appearance and an enviable interior space. The new BMW X5 maintains the typical proportions of a SAV, clean surfaces and precise lines that accentuate the robustness, safety and grandeur of the car. Even the interiors, cared for in every detail, are characterized by a modern design and an exclusive atmosphere.

The new chassis systems improve the off-road performance, sportiness and comfort of the new BMW X5. The SAV is equipped as standard with Dynamic Damper Control while the Adaptive M Professional suspension with active anti-roll stabilization and Integral Active Steering (making its debut in a BMW X model) guarantee extremely agile and dynamic driving characteristics. The air suspension of the two axles satisfies those looking for maximum driving comfort and allows the vehicle height to be adjusted by 80 millimetres by pressing a button or using the BMW Display Key.

An absolute novelty for the model is the possibility for customers to choose the xOffroad package. A specific button gives the driver the choice between four off-road driving modes (xSand, xRocks, xGravel, xSnow), which automatically determine the ideal vehicle height settings, xDrive system, acceleration response and transmission control, and corrective inputs of the DSC system when you need to drive on sand, rocks, gravel or snow.

For all information on the project and the new BMW X5, visit