With the original X5, BMW virtually invented what we now know as the sports utility vehicle.
The cross-pollination of clunky 4x4 and Bavarian driving machine ought to have been as silly as mountaineering stilettos, but it turned out to be the answer to modern motoring: slyly involving when necessary, a quarantine of elevated solitude when not.
However, while profligacy and power were conspicuously at the heart of the X5, BMW failed to take it to its inevitable conclusion, leaving others – notably Mercedes-Benz and Porsche – to sweep in and build supercar-fast versions of their contemporary SUVs.
Realising its error, BMW instructed M division to hollow out the X5 and X6 and remake them in its own image.
The results, equipped with the firm’s new twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 motor, were among the quickest SUVs ever built. But they were unforgiving machines to live with and run, and were ultimately overshadowed by better-known rivals and less-compromised stablemates.
Now, with the latest F15 variant of the X5 a little over a year old, M division has returned with a second run at what it thinks a fast SUV should be.
First and foremost, it has been keen to point out that the revised V8 makes the M-badged model more efficient than ever – claiming a 26% improvement in range. But this being M division, it hasn’t forgotten to make it yet more powerful either, with a 10% rise in peak torque making the Range Rover Sport SVR we tested last month look positively limp-wristed.
Nevertheless, the SVR came scandalously close to delivering everything we could want from an anti-socially fast 2.5-tonne SUV. To equal its five-star score, the BMW must live up to the Land Rover’s rich and usable charm, as well as its speed. Onward.