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Good news - the car that gave the world the sports activity vehicle keeps getting better

Our Verdict

The big BMW X5 SUV may be getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s still one of the best all-rounders in its class

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's 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

30 August 2013

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.

30 August 2013
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!! ...

31 August 2013

Yes Norma agreed

The default woman driving it who immediately parks in the children and toddler bay in the supermarket whether she has a child or not. The woman has tan similar to those orange leather seats in the car and definitely dyed blond hair and sun glasses (even when it rains) The woman tends to look incredibly irritable and impatient.

Stereotypes maybe - but by God you see how many times I am right.

Of course it is essential tool for dropping off the kids and going shopping you never no when you need that 4 wheel drive.

As for the car - unfortunately it is actually spoiled by the type of people who drive it.

30 August 2013

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.......

30 August 2013

[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!

30 August 2013
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.

30 August 2013
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

30 August 2013

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.

30 August 2013
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.

Indeed it is boring. As yet you have no evidence, in respect of the BMW here, on which to base your silly claim.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

30 August 2013

Duplicate post due to problem posting.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

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