With the original X5, BMW virtually invented what we now know as the sports utility vehicle.

The cross-pollination of clunky 4x4 and Bavarian driving machine ought to have been as silly as mountaineering stilettos, but it turned out to be the answer to modern motoring: slyly involving when necessary, a quarantine of elevated solitude when not.

However, while profligacy and power were conspicuously at the heart of the X5, BMW failed to take it to its inevitable conclusion, leaving others – notably Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – to sweep in and build supercar-fast versions of their contemporary SUVs.

Realising its error, BMW instructed M division to hollow out the X5 and X6 and remake them in its own image.

The results, equipped with the firm’s new twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 motor, were among the quickest SUVs ever built. But they were unforgiving machines to live with and run, and were ultimately overshadowed by better-known rivals and less-compromised stablemates.

Now, with the latest F15 variant of the X5 a little over a year old, M division has returned with a second run at what it thinks a fast SUV should be.

First and foremost, it has been keen to point out that the revised V8 makes the M-badged model more efficient than ever – claiming a 26% improvement in range. But this being M division, it hasn’t forgotten to make it yet more powerful either, with a 10 per cent rise in peak torque making the Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo look positively limp-wristed. However, in the same breath the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S has a 10bhp advantage over the BMW

Nevertheless, the SVR came scandalously close to delivering everything we could want from an anti-socially fast 2.5-tonne SUV. To equal its five-star score, the BMW must live up to the Land Rover’s rich and usable charm, as well as its speed. Onward.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Sports SUVs

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the BMW range

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK