The X5 M is a remarkable dynamic achievement. In its sportiest settings, this is a full-size SUV with levels of grip, agility and body control that some sports saloons would struggle to match, and it demonstrates that Porsche doesn’t have a monopoly on bending the laws of physics to suit the size, shape and mass of an SUV.
But if that’s all you require of a £88k luxury 4x4, we suspect you’re in the minority. If it’s not, there are undoubtedly ways that this sporting leviathan could leave you wanting.
Your first job is to negotiate the aforementioned operating modes of the steering, damping, engine and gearbox, some of which make the X5 M feel leaden and unyielding on most UK roads.
Comfort preferences for everything but the engine and gearbox put the X5 M on a stronger footing, allowing enough chassis compliance for a reasonably fluent ride and apparently optimising the active anti-roll bar and power steering settings for the most consistent steering weight.
But even thus configured, there’s little delicacy about the way the car deals with uneven surfaces and only a fleeting sort of tactile feedback in evidence through the wheel – little to keep you interested in the driving experience at everyday speeds, in other words.
The handling is always very precise and stable – except over rough roads, with the stiffer damper settings locked in and during hard cornering, when the suspension’s refusal to yield can begin to throw the car off its line.
But attempts to dial some feedback into the steering with the Sport and Sport+ settings more often lead to a deterioration in simple predictability, as resistance fluctuates and hysteresis interferes.
Rolling refinement in the car could be better; our test car’s optional 21in wheels and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres created notable road noise.
Too much, perhaps, for a customer looking for the ultimate blend of luxury and performance to put up with.