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.

Top 5 Sports SUVs

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    26 April 2017
    The compromises of adding a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to the 5 Series make the new 530e iPerformance tough to recommend
  • 2017 BMW 440i Coupé
    First Drive
    26 April 2017
    The assumption was that a few minor tweaks to the 2017 BMW 440i Coupé wouldn't make much of a difference. It turns out they do
  • Porsche 911 GT3
    First Drive
    26 April 2017
    Brilliant new Porsche GT 911 GT3 picks up where the previous GT3 RS and 911 R left off
  • Honda Clarity Fuell Cell
    First Drive
    26 April 2017
    You can't buy the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, but the innovative hatchback does enough to show that hydrogen models deserve a more mainstream future
  • Nissan Micra
    Car review
    26 April 2017
    Has this much-needed reinvention turned it into a real contender once again?