Richard Bremner
29 August 2013

What is it?

The third generation of the BMW X5. Rather than presenting too many changes, the success of the previous models is why the styling of this new X5 simply ‘refines and reinforces the X5’s look of presence and elegance’ says designer Olivier Heilmer.

And, technically, the X5 is more a substantial update than wholesale reinvention, says project leader Siegfried Muller. The platform is essentially the same, but the upgrades are significant and go to the core of the X5, its body-in-white being reworked for strength and lightness. The shell is now five per cent stiffer without piling on weight, and the car itself is significantly more refined. 

What is it like?

Muller’s toughest mission was tackling criticisms of the outgoing model’s ride, refinement and aura of quality, without adding heft.

He's done well, with reductions to the bulkhead, glasshouse and wheel-well noise transmission improving refinement by a useful 2.5dB, while new seats have reduced vibration, and the subtly softened suspension smothers sharp bumps more effectively.

Steering feel changes noticeably, too, for being electrically rather than hydraulically assisted to save fuel, as does the drag coefficient which drops from 0.34 to 0.31.

More obvious, though, is the classier cabin. Its subtly curving decor, superior materials and adjustable mood lighting enhance an architecture that’s still familiar; and improved rear space, a bigger boot and the third-row option, now split 40:20:40, complete the upgrade. 

BMW’s efficient dynamics mission sees the xDrive30d motor gaining 13bhp and 15lb ft of torque while sprinting to 62mph 0.7sec faster despite streaming 33 fewer grams of CO2.

You’ll also enjoy this oil-burner’s much-improved manners, its clatter and growl now buried in background hum. Lots of low-rev urge and the eight-speed auto’s excellent anticipatory skills make for authoritatively brisk and effortless performance that, at lower speeds, shades the petrol xDrive50i. 

So the essence of the 1999 X5’s mini-revolution is preserved intact, and this latest edition is pleasingly nimble and precise when the going gets twisty. The keen will enjoy such roads in sport setting, which enlivens the drivetrain, girds the dampers and weights the occasionally uncertain steering to produce a well-resolved driving experience. 

And the ride? It swallows most small bumps whole, as promised, although the odd clatter across ridges and potholes in sport suggests that it’s the comfort damping mode you’ll mostly want on Britain’s roads. Given how well the rest of the system performs, it’s unfortunate that in Sport mode setting the steering turns over-light - and you can’t mix and match the steering, drivetrain and suspension settings. 

Should I buy one?

The sports steering is, however, is one of the few flaws in this plush, practical and decently powerful set of family wheels. The X5 formula is unchanged and, steering apart, its mix of sporting edge and refined, big cabin comfort remains a compelling draw.  Buyers will undoubtedly find this to be a very comfortable, very capable, off-road cruiser.

BMW X5 xDrive30d

Price £47,895; 0-62mph 6.9sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 45.5mpg; CO2 164g/km; Kerb weight 2070kg; Engine 6cys in-line, 2993cc, turbocharged diesel; Installation Front, longitudinal, 4wd; Power 254bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 413lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Join the debate

Comments
31

Gaudy Driveway Ornament Ahoy!

50 weeks 5 days ago

Coming to a supermarket near you, complete with redundant sports spoilers, absurdly big wheels, personalized plate and pushy school-run Mum at the controls.

Hope they offer the leather in St Tropez orange this time and beef up the plastics to be nail extension-proof. As this has ruined many an X5 before.

Won't be classed as being

50 weeks 4 days ago

Won't be classed as being better than a Range Rover Sport though will it Autocar, even if the BMW was genuinely the better car.......

Give it a rest

50 weeks 4 days ago

[quote=Lanehogger]Won't be classed as being better than a Range Rover Sport though will it Autocar, even if the BMW was genuinely the better car.......[/quote

Give it a rest on this Autocar loves JLR over everything else thing..... it is getting boring now!

Burtonez][quote=Lanehogger

50 weeks 4 days ago
Burtonez][quote=Lanehogger wrote:

Won't be classed as being better than a Range Rover Sport though will it Autocar, even if the BMW was genuinely the better car.......[/quote

Give it a rest on this Autocar loves JLR over everything else thing..... it is getting boring now!

It may be boring to you and others, but just making the point. If you find such comments boring, just ignore it. Simples.

Lanehogger][quote=Burtonez

50 weeks 4 days ago
Lanehogger][quote=Burtonez wrote:
Lanehogger wrote:

Won't be classed as being better than a Range Rover Sport though will it Autocar, even if the BMW was genuinely the better car.......[/quote

Give it a rest on this Autocar loves JLR over everything else thing..... it is getting boring now!

It may be boring to you and others, but just making the point. If you find such comments boring, just ignore it. Simples.

This road test for this new X5 was quite glowing from what I have read so there really was no need for any sly little digs on whether the Range Rover is the better car or not

Bmw Vs Range Rover

50 weeks 4 days ago

I agree averageman. You don't know if it would be better than a Range Rover stop assuming....Autocar are an inbiased magazine, we will find out soon enough if the Range Rover is better.

Hmmm ...

50 weeks 4 days ago
Norma Smellons wrote:

Coming to a supermarket near you, complete with redundant sports spoilers, absurdly big wheels, personalized plate and pushy school-run Mum at the controls.

Hope they offer the leather in St Tropez orange this time and beef up the plastics to be nail extension-proof. As this has ruined many an X5 before.

Unfortunately, SO true!! ...

My search goes on...

50 weeks 4 days ago

Looks have taken a turn for the worst. Still lacking three seats on the second row. My search for a 4wd with seven (5+2 good enough) seats goes on.....

Fingers Crossed for the Facelift

50 weeks 4 days ago

Sounds like a very well engineered car, but it looks worse than the previous generation which has always looked good in standard SE trim imo. The detailing on this new one is too fussy and it lacks a simple elegance - something that the Range Rover achieves (providing it's not blinged up with the usual large alloys and excessive chrome).

If I were in the market for a large SUV, I'd take a trip to my local BMW dealer and haggle over a current shape model - given my parents managed to knock over £5k off the price of a brand new factory order 320d Touring this month, there must be some cracking deals on the current X5.

Search for 3 seats in the second row

50 weeks 4 days ago

Agree wholeheartedly.

The Merc GL and the Range Rover Discovery are pretty much all that is out there (in Europe) if you really want 3 seats in the second row - 3 seats being defined as each seat has equal comfort. Maybe a Toyota Land Cruiser (I never looked).

Practically no other car has a true 3 seat second row these days. Not even the big limos. I know - I have a family of 5 and looked hard for one to replace my ageing X5. Anyone know why? Large cars are for large families aren't they? The width is there, it's just the way designers choose to divvy up the space...

My current X5 still carries 5 people on holiday twice a year over 750km - but the children vye for the 'window' seats at every stop. BMW did nothing in subsequent versions. I presume families of 5 are going out of style.

Regarding this X5.

I like X5s and I am trying hard to like this - but failing so far. Maybe I will like it when I see it in the flesh. Right now, the day I replace my 12 year old X5, I will do so wth a Range Rover or Range Rover Sport - even though they too do not give equal comfort to the second row 3 seats. Or maybe I'll just wait for the Discovery replacement.

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