The X5 M’s cabin satisfies most of the conflicting demands made of a fast SUV with consummate ease.
Buyers will expect a supportive, cocooned driving position and plenty of performance flavour, but also a lavish, luxurious, high-tech ambience and outstanding comfort and convenience. Put simply, fast SUV owners want it all – and this BMW makes a fine fist of providing it.
There’s no mistaking the raised driving position that you slide into from the kerb for anything other than an SUV hallmark, but it’s also a little more recumbent than in some rivals. The multi-adjustable seats have generous under-thigh support and good shape and bolstering, and they’re excellent over long distances.
The standard equipment on the X5 M is impressive as you would expect of a range-topper, with it getting a 20GB iDrive infotainment system with sat nav, Bluetooth, USB interface and wireless charging all as standard. There is also the addition of heated front sports seats, a leather upholstery, wifi hotspot preparation, and a powered tailgate.
The Mugello Red merino leathers and carbonfibre inlays of our test car may look a bit crass, but they’re optional. More important, the hide is beautifully supple, soft and attentively finished, and it can swathe the entirety of the dashboard and doorcards should you want it to.
BMW’s M-specific steering wheel and instruments strike a familiar impression of clarity and purposefulness. They’re partnered with a standard head-up display that comes into its own when you put the car into its Sport+ driving mode, relaying additional speed, gear position and rev counter information closer to your natural line of sight.
The centre console is populated by BMW’s stubby M-specific gear selector and a slightly fiddly array of buttons for individually configuring the car’s stability control, gearbox, engine, power steering and damping systems.
BMW’s position on all this is that M division clientele aren’t discouraged by such complexity; rather, they embrace the opportunity to endlessly tailor and tweak. While the two ‘M’ preset buttons on the wheel at least allow you to save a set-up you like, we prefer a simpler control philosophy and a more discreet approach to the integration of so many active systems.
The car’s case is strengthened by strong practicality. The load bay is both longer and taller than that of the Range Rover Sport SVR and has generous underfloor storage, while the rear cabin is spacious.
Meanwhile, a split tailgate adds to the load bay’s ease of use – something that its British rival doesn’t have in its armoury.