Although the exterior has submitted itself to notable reinterpretation, the X5 is closely related to the previous model underneath. With a 2993mm wheelbase, the platform is much as it was before.

Instead, BMW claims to have focused on cutting some excess weight from its unibody by making extensive use of ultra-high-tensile steels in the structure and introducing an aluminium bonnet along with thermoplastic side panels.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
BMW described the first X5 as a Sports Activity Vehicle

The near-2.4-tonne kerb weight of the xDrive M50d that we tested suggests there is still some way to go on that account, but the five per cent gain in rigidity is a useful attribute, given that improving the X5’s ride quality was also high on the fix list.

Entry-level cars will get a fettled steel set-up as standard, but many buyers will benefit from the adjustable dampers and self-levelling air springs that appear higher up the trim list. Adaptive Comfort – with two damping modes accessed via the (new-to-X5) Dynamic Damper Control – will appear in all SE models.

In the UK, where a penchant for M Sport is predicted, most will have the Adaptive M Suspension that adds Sport and Sport+ to the setting list. Beyond these, there are two more optional packages: Adaptive Dynamic, which significantly beefs up the active roll bars’ resistance to lean, and Adaptive Professional, which includes all modes in one integrated bundle.

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The engine choice, mercifully, is a little more straightforward. The X5 benefits from the evolution of BMW’s TwinPower Turbo line-up, which has already been upgraded to forthcoming Euro 6 emissions standards across the board.

BMW will offer six X5 powertrains, starting with a new two-wheel-drive 215bhp sDrive 25d, a four-wheel-drive xDrive version of the same, and xDrive 30d (255bhp), 40d (309bhp) and M50d (376bhp) diesels. The sole petrol option is a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8, producing 443bhp, badged the xDrive 50i, and 567bhp for the X5 M. There is also an hybrid option in the form of xDrive40e iPerformance driven by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and an 110bhp electric motor.

BMW’s efficient dynamics mission and the use of the latest eight-speed automatic gearbox means the xDrive 30d's motor gains 13bhp and 15lb ft of torque, and sprints to 62mph 0.7sec quicker, despite emitting 33 fewer grams of CO2 at 162g/km. BMW can also claim substantial economy gains for the 4.4-litre petrol V8, which has an official combined figure of 27.2mpg.

Attempting to stay as true to its natural dynamic as possible, the X5 was conceived with a rear-wheel-drive bias. The original, E53 generation of the X5 sent about 60 per cent of the torque to the back axle by default, and so does this new one, the F15 generation.

However, the latest xDrive system is now capable of sending almost 100 per cent of available power to either end if the Dynamic Stability Control senses a dramatic loss of traction. In the interests of efficiency, the set-up – which uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch to shuffle drive between nose and stern – has also had 1.4kg subtracted from it. Every little helps.

In the case of the M50d, the rear differential is supplemented by Dynamic Performance Control, the limited-slip-diff-mimicking function previously seen on the previous-generation X5 M, which vectors torque between the wheels as its sensors see fit.

Clearly, this is intended to enhance cornering, but BMW also provides the X5 with an Automatic Differential Brake, a driver aid that brakes a spinning wheel so that peak torque only finds its way to a corner with purchase.

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