From £43,830
Do subtle changes to the X5 improve the overall package?

Our Verdict

BMW X5
BMW X5 is unashamedly road biased, though it will be acceptable off-road

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

  • First Drive

    BMW X5 xDrive50i SE

    Highly desirable, but you'd have to be spectacularly uncaring about running costs to buy one
  • First Drive

    BMW X5 xDrive40d

    Do subtle changes to the X5 improve the overall package?
14 April 2010

What is it?

Say what you like about the X5, but don't accuse it of being a flop. With production of the upmarket off-roader set to top the one million mark in June it's been hugely successful, continuously beating sales forecasts since the original's 2000 launch.

Now a subtle mid-life makeover of the current generation has brought it the potential for even more sales success, with some mild styling changes, minor chassis revisions, an extended list of options and, most significant, a second six-cylinder diesel engine.

What's it like?

You'll have to look hard to spot the styling tweaks, which include revised body-coloured bumpers along with new LED headlamps and tail-lights. It's not a lot, but given the popularity of the old model it seems smart not to go messing with the looks of the X5 too much. Step inside and the changes are even more subtle.

BMW has carried over all the existing engines to the new X5, but it's the new 302bhp, twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel in the confusingly named xDrive40d that warrants most attention. Already available in a host of other BMWs, it is a gutsy device with a flexible delivery and excellent refinement ­ all of which makes it perfectly suited for duty in a big luxury 4x4.

The new engine's prodigious 442lb ft of torque arrives early in the rev range to make light work of the xDrive40d's considerable 2110kg kerb weight, endowing it with excellent step-off, solid in-gear shove and a good turn of speed.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard and operates in a more decisive and intuitive nature than the older six-speed unit, particularly on downshifts, which are noticeably smoother than before.

Those extra couple of cogs maximise the 40d's cruising potential ­ 100mph is achieved at just 2500rpm in top gear ­ while modifications to the steering have made it more linear and better in a straight line.

Should I buy one?

At £46,310, the new xDrive40d is £2330 more than the reworked xDrive30d, but £8770 less than the only petrol model left in the UK line-up, the xDrive50i. Given its impressive blend of performance and economy, it's the X5 to have.

Join the debate

Comments
10

16 April 2010

That engine sounds awesome. (not literal sound)

Those are some pretty good stats for a car that size/weight.

16 April 2010

There is something very appealing about the X5, And i am someone who cares little for German cars or SUV`s.

16 April 2010

Funny thing is, the X5 could perfectly be propelled by a 2 litre diesel engine as in 123d and with over 200 bhp it wouldn't be slow

16 April 2010

ok in my eyes the X5 is a really good car a much better car than the merc and audi equivalents however they will always fail against the range rover its the daddy of the 4x4'w even if it will be unreliable after a few years

16 April 2010

Many thanks for the short review - I've been waiting for a while to hear what the 40d is like to drive, and good to hear that you're positive. One thing that I had been apprehensive about was the standing start issue that afflicted the previous X5 i.e. put your foot down, wait ... and then off we go, which I know I would find annoying. By the sound of things this has gone now, and I look forward to test driving one when they are released for sale.

One question I don't know if anyone has an answer for is the lack of an NCAP score. The 5 star score relates to the 2003 X5 which is a completely different car. You can probably take the view that it is a very safe car, just slightly suspicious as to why it doesn't have one ? Just very safety conscious with the family ....

DKW

16 April 2010

The NCAP tests should not be given too much credibility, and can in some cases be a triumph of bureaucracy over reality. Witness the 5* Fiat 500 meeting an Audi Q7 in the classic front 3/4 collision test:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pVF1Wr7GLQ

If you were in that 5* rated Fiat they would be slopping out what's left of your legs with a sponge.

I once saw a Bentley (proper, not Conti) backend an Astra estate. The Astra was compressed by 2 foot, I assume written off. I could not see any damage to the Bentley beyond the front bumper.

Safety is still largely about mass and size.

16 April 2010

DKW - point well made. I was shocked to see that it looks like the crash dummy in the Fiat 500 loses its head !! Although probably down to camera angles ...

17 April 2010

"BMW has carried over all the existing engines to the new X5"

The 4.8 has not been carried over and neither has the entry level 3.0-litre. They are being replaced with the new 4.4 twin-turbo and 3.0 twin-scroll turbo engines respectively. A rather large omission I feel.

19 April 2010

[quote DKW]

The NCAP tests should not be given too much credibility, and can in some cases be a triumph of bureaucracy over reality. Witness the 5* Fiat 500 meeting an Audi Q7 in the classic front 3/4 collision test:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pVF1Wr7GLQ

If you were in that 5* rated Fiat they would be slopping out what's left of your legs with a sponge.

I once saw a Bentley (proper, not Conti) backend an Astra estate. The Astra was compressed by 2 foot, I assume written off. I could not see any damage to the Bentley beyond the front bumper.

Safety is still largely about mass and size.

[/quote]

Which is why I will resist all calls from the Greenies to downsize. I won't risk my life for a bunch of screaming loony-lefty liberal ecomentalists who have long, braided hair and eat nothing but lentils.

Come to think about it, I do care about the environment, I do rather like lentils and have almost shoulder-length hair. However, I do eat meat and I'm no loony lefty liberalist, and I'm not 100% convinced that climate change = environmental catastrophe, or that CO2 = climate change. However, we all want clean air and rivers and whatnot, I'm sure.

Mind you, to get back to cars, you should see that video Fifth Gear produced showing a Renault Modus make absolute mincemeat of a Volvo 940...

19 April 2010

[quote Rover P6 3500S]I won't risk my life for a bunch of screaming loony-lefty liberal ecomentalists who have long, braided hair and eat nothing but lentils.[/quote]

I don't understand why, when someone feels their taste in cars is questioned (if it is, and not merely in their head) they resort to a mouthful of crude cliche. It's not as if it's even mildly humorous.

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