The BMW X5 has a suppleness and maturity to the way it goes down the road that’s every bit a match for a Range Rover Sport or Mercedes ML, even when fitted with optional sports suspension.

It corners better than both the Merc and the Range Rover, too. BMW says the X5 is “a driver’s car” – which is stretching the point a bit for a 2.2-tonne, 1.8m-tall vehicle – but after the Porsche Cayenne it is probably still the best car in this class to punt down a twisty road.

The X5 is surprisingly capable on track. It grips hard and goes well

The double wishbone front suspension is said to respond to road inputs more quickly than the struts of the first-generation model, and the X5 certainly has a confidence and ability that you’d need a Cayenne to better.

It steers accurately, responds well and keeps its body movements under tight control. Although this is still no sports car, the grip and traction it found on MIRA’s wet handling circuit were quite remarkable.

What the X5 won’t do is go as far off road as some of its rivals. BMW doesn’t hide the fact that this car has been developed for on-road use, but it still has a 25deg approach angle, a 24deg departure angle and a 19.7deg breakover angle as well as a wade depth of 500mm. Look beneath it and you’ll see a virtually flat underbody, too, with the exhaust hidden in a cavity.

There’s even hill descent control, but BMW admits its xDrive four-wheel drive system, which features an electronic central clutch allied to the DSC system, is tuned to maximise on-road traction at the expense of off-road capability.

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