New four-cylinder diesel X5 offers up impressive economy and stout performance without overly compromising on refinement

What is it?

A frugal new diesel version of the third-generation BMW X5, badged the xDrive25d.

It's among a growing number of premium SUVs to be offered with four-cylinder power in a move that not only endows it with impressively low combined cycle consumption and emissions but also lowers its purchase price and running costs – to a level that is sure to make it an attractive proposition for private buyers.

According to BMW’s official figures, the Mercedes-Benz ML250 BlueTEC rival returns 47.9mpg and emits just 156g/km of CO2. Running BMW’s widely used turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine, it offers 215bhp and 332lb ft of torque, channelled through the same eight-speed automatic gearbox found on other X5 models.

BMW's new BMW X5 is to be sold in both standard sDrive rear-wheel drive and optional xDrive four-wheel drive guises – the latter of which is driven here. Prices for the sDrive SE models start at £42,940, rising to £45,245 for the xDrive SE variant.

The question is: can the new four-cylinder diesel provide convincing performance and refinement in an SUV as luxurious as the latest X5 while delivering on the promise of almost 50mpg and emissions of less than 160g/km?

What's it like?

Predictably, the BMW X5 xDrive25d is no rocket ship, but its comparatively small engine manages to accelerate it from standstill and haul it along at typical motorway cruising speeds in a highly respectable manner, thanks in part to a solid slab of low-end torque and some very well chosen gear ratios.

It might not be exciting but the new BMW provides a creditable level of performance that makes it totally acceptable in real-world driving conditions and betters its four-cylinder SUV rivals for pace away from the traffic lights.

This is evidenced by an official 0-62mph time of 8.2sec, which sees X5 xDrive25d outsprint the Mercedes ML250 BlueTEC by 0.8sec to the traditional benchmark – as well as through the gears.

Even more impressive is the X5 xDrive25d’s refinement. With newly developed engine mounts and a good deal of sound deadening material concentrated within the front bulkhead, the four-cylinder engine is better mannered than in many other smaller BMW models, with low levels of on-throttle mechanical chatter and only mild vibration even at higher revs. You can tell it is a diesel, but the noise it makes is well isolated from the cabin.

Dynamically, the new four-cylinder gives little away to its more expensive six- and eight-cylinder siblings on the road. A commanding driving position offering good vision to each corner, firmly weighted but direct response from the electro-mechanical steering and excellent body control with firmly damped qualities combine to make the X5 xDrive25d a genuinely engaging car despite its obvious lack of firepower.

Steel spring suspension is standard, coupled with adaptive dampers that offer the choice between comfort and sport modes. Our test car, however, was fitted with optional air springs – which provide automatic ride height control. As with other BMW X5 models, there is an inherently firm feel to the underpinnings even in Comfort mode. However, an abundance of wheel travel and excellent rebound control ensures even nasty bumps are smoothed out in an effective manner. 

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And what of that official consumption figure? On a varied test route, we saw over 40mpg. While not quite up to the claimed 47.9mpg, this is outstanding for such a large and well-equipped SUV and certainly reason enough to place the X5 xDrive25d on the short list of many potential luxury SUV buyers.

Should I buy one?

This latest version the third-generation BMW X5 is hardly the last word in performance and accelerative ability. But it is far from disgraced in real world driving conditions with highly efficient and well-refined qualities that will suit many prospective buyers down to the ground.

Granted, the X5 xDrive25d may not drip with excitement. However, there is a relaxed gait to its on-road manner and sufficient engagement in its handling properties to make it an appealing alternative to the more expensive X5 xDrive30d, to which it gives nothing away in terms of comfort, space, versatility and quality. Remove the badge and no one will know.

BMW X5 xDrive25d SE

Price £45,245; Top speed 130mph; 0-62mph 8.2sec; Economy 47.9mpg; CO2 156g/km; Kerb weight 2040kg; Engine 4cyls, 1995cc, turbocharged diesel; Power 215bhp at 4400rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic

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spqr 8 May 2014

The continuing decline of BMW

4 cylinders and turbos can achieve great power outputs. But that is not the issue with a straight six there is smoothness, the responsiveness and that noise. I have owned 10 BMWs over 20 years and 8 have had straight sixes. From a 2.2 through the 2.5 to the last of the naturally aspirated 3.0s. The 330i coupe I drive now will the last BMW I will own. I have driven the supposed replacements for the N/A sixes, the 320i, the 328i and the 428i all with the N20 two litre four cylinder turbo. The N20 is a disgraceful effort from a company which takes pride in its engines. It sounds like a diesel on start up, is as rough and unrefined as any four cylinder on the market and does not rev high enough or sound interesting at all. Just a dull drone that gets louder. It is an engine for mere transport like a Diesel engine. And fuel economy was 0.1mpg better than the 325i I was replacing. As for Mercedes-Benz I briefly owned a CLS350 last year which tried to kill me twice by losing all power and safety systems once on an urban road and a week to the day after MB said it was fixed on a dual carriage way in rush hour. I narrowly avoided being in a huge accident. I got my money back and am having one last nostalgia trip with a last off the line 330i. The 1 Series is a bread van by the way. I drove a M135i for a 2 day test drive after the CLS incident. Rapid but badly made, too harsh a ride and when you stop honing around no good at being a hatchback with a tiny boot and even smaller rear seats. And dire fuel echo my too even driving like a saint. And each time I parked it I looked and thought UGLY. Subject thing looks but BMW seem to get it wrong with each new model at the moment. Audi seem to have one design they enlarge or miniaturise. Mercedes-Benz have nice looking cars that I will never ever buy again as long as I live. Which will be much longer if I don't buy one! Jaguars are virtually all diesel powered so I will never buy one. At a loss as to what I will get next as new cars are universally "beige" with 4 cylinder turbos or diesels or both. For a life long car enthusiast wanting 6 cylinders, good build, sleek looks and rear wheel drive with reasonable running costs there is nothing to buy. And yes I know the Z4 has a 3.0 six. I have had 3. An E85 2.5 roadster, an E86 3.0 coupe and an E89 2.3 sDrive23i roadster. None had a turbocharged engine and all could easily do 35mpg on a run. The only 3.0 sixes left are the sDrive 35i and the sDrive35iS both turbos and both incapable of handling the power of the engine.
NY_69 11 May 2014


You better get yourself down to the Kia dealership ASAP.
spqr 7 May 2014

The Continued Decline of BMW

This is a sad and depressing vehicle for those who have been loyal BMW customers for 20 years and more. A further indication that BMW is turning into a volume manufacturer of deeply average diesel rubbish. In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s a BMW was usually the best car in its class or close to it. The current range shows the signs of the complacency success has bought for BMW. The 5 Series is no longer the benchmark excecutive car and has to be specified with thousands of pounds of extras to make it drive well, the 7 Series is an also-ran, the Z4 is a mediocre hairdressers car with little four cylinder engines under an enormous bonnet, the 1 Series is ugly and outclasssed by the VW Golf, the 2 Series is a front-wheel drive van with windows (or a coupe?), the X models are useless off-road and all are ugly inelegant designs. The 4 series and 6 Series are reasonably good looking but massively overpriced and indifferent dynamically. Only the 3 Series seems to be OK but is not available with an inline 6 Cylinder petrol engine without a turbo. I expect the next generation of BMWs to be indistinguishable from Vauxhalls, Hyundais or Peugeots. Sad.
NY_69 8 May 2014


BMW has adapted to the market, why focus on producing 6-cylinder engines when advancements in technology has allowed for similar power ranges to be achieved using 4 cylinder engines? Ford has recently announced the Mondeo will be available with a 1.0 litre engine- that's generally the way forward. Also what the hell are you talking about? The 5-series is by far still the best in its class? What what suggest either-wise? You could argue the E-Class I guess.. again mostly sold with 4-cylinder engines, I drove the "small" E250 CGI petrol with a turbo charged 1.8 engine, I thought it was a great car.- more fun than the E350 CDI V6. I don't care what these UK magazines say the XF is nothing compared to the 5-Series, constant flag-waving rubbish. Also the 1-series with its M-Kit is hardly ugly, whenever I see a 14 plate Golf I'm not exactly taken in by its 'amazing' good looks, the most generic car on earth. , and no matter how good the Z4/SLK's are they will be always considered a hairdressers car by some, also the Z4 comes as a 3.0 you know.
NY_69 5 May 2014