When the X5 first appeared in 1999, it took the SUV world by storm.Now, in its fourth generation, it has evolved.
By Bill McCarthy
Still offering that four wheel drive, soft road capability, with commanding driving position and badge kudos, it is an altogether more sophisticated machine, with cutting edge technology, even more refinement, better driving dynamics and, oh, a starting price of £57,495.
It offers a choice of TwinPower and M Performance petrol and diesel engines, matched to a new eight-speed Steptronic gearbox and the latest version of xDrive all wheel drive system.
Connectivity is a key upgrade with the firm’s Open Mobility Cloud, which interfaces the car with the customer’s digital devices. These could include an iPhone and Apple Watch, smartphones and smartwatches running the Android operating system, Alexa-compatible smart devices and Google Home.
The integration of Microsoft Office 365 turns it into a mobile office. Users are able to access their email account from their car, so there is no need for them to use their smartphone while driving. Drivers can have emails read out to them and are able to use voice commands to dictate and send new messages while on the move.
All cutting edge stuff, but there is much more. You either love the huge kidney-shaped grille and blue propeller logo, or you don’t. But it is instantly recognisable on this slightly bigger version of an already large vehicle, which now has more room for passengers and luggage.
The M Sport specification, features wheel arch trim for the 20-inch alloy wheels, bumper trim, integrated roof bars, rear underguard and side skirts painted in body colour, plus extra-large air intakes at the front end.
The exterior looks good, but the interior is a styling delight with all sorts of innovations and interesting options.
The M Sport touches throughout include M sports steering wheel, individual headliner in Anthracite, M-specific pedals, driver’s footrest and piping on the sumptuous electrically operated seats, plus exclusive interior trim in BMW’s classy Aluminium Tetragon finish. The interior also features ambient lighting and a neat optional touch are the cupholders which can heat or cool drinks.
The large digital tscreen dominates the dash, controlling connectivity, navigation and infotainment, operated by the now familiar iDrive controller in the centre of the console.
Another classy, but optional, touch is the CraftedClarity glass for selected controls including transmission lever, the controller, the start/stop button and the volume control button for the audio system. It looks like cut glass crystal, further enhancing the upmarket feel, but at a price of more than £450.
The vehicle is an upmarket, comfortable place to be and quiet, thanks to the excellent soundproofing, aided in this case by the optional accoustic glasskeeping noise from the outside world at bay.
On the road it can be as quiet as a church mouse when cruising, but floor the pedal and the V6 roars into life and the car effortlessly slips through the gears.
It should be a given that the three-litre, V6 diesel on this vehicle is smooth and refined. It is, and it also offers plenty of pace, with more than reasonable economy for such a big engine powering such a deceptively big beast.
The unit employs a twin-scroll turbocharger to generate its maximum output of 258hp, while the peak torque of 450Nm is available giving it power to pull just about anything.
Mated with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission, it can hit the 60mph mark in just 6.8 seconds.
The adaptive suspension means the ride is comfortable, but stiffens up when switched to sport mode.
Ground clearance can also be altered in Sport mode at higher speeds or when going off-road. The four wheel drive switches power automatically to each axle dependent on conditions, splitting the drive torque between the front and rear wheels.
It is also practical with folding down the 40/20/40 split rear seat backrest increases boot capacity from 650 litres to a maximum of 1,870 litre and two-section tailgate for ease of loading.
An array of chassis systems available make it possible to boost the off-road performance, sportiness or comfort helps the vehicle in heavy traffic.
Standard kit is as you would expect of a £60,000 car, with a whole host of luxury toys, but in true BMW fashion, optional extras can add thousands.
BMW X5 3.0d M Sport
Mechanical: 258bhp,2,993cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 6.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 40.3
Insurance Group: 42
C02 emissions: 162g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles