BMW Builds 'Monza Sahara' In Desert So X5 Can Play In Sandbox
19 November 2018 - motor1
The famous Italian race track is faithfully recreated in every way, but with sand instead of pavement.
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.
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.