At its heart, the BMW X5 is still the sporting SUV that it was back in 1999. Perhaps too much so aesthetically, because this restyle is certainly short of imaginative flourishes.
It's certainly more polished, however; the X5’s mix of big cabin comfort, luxury trimmings, sporting performance, all-weather security and accomplished manners is a compelling draw, despite the V8’s lazy step-off and its somewhat flawed steering feedback.
The BMW X5 M50d proves that the diesel-fuelled performance 4x4 has some potential, but its justifications aren’t as clear-cut as they might be in a saloon. We’ve demonstrated that the X5 M50d can be quick enough to stand credibly next to a Porsche Cayenne Turbo or Mercedes-Benz AMG ML.
It can also consume fuel almost as savagely as a petrol counterpart. Again, though, we've found the active chassis systems that manufacturers like BMW now use to hold off the laws of physics in such fast, heavy and tall machines need to be very carefully deployed to make for a coherent, natural-feeling drive.
Mighty powertrain aside, this particular model is a long way from being the equal of our chart-topping Range Rover Sport.
Buyers looking at the more conventional versions, however, will undoubtedly find them to be very comfortable, very capable, premium off-road cruisers.