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Range-topping SUV arrives with a 616bhp petrol V8 borrowed from the M5 super saloon. Is it just as engaging?

The BMW X5 M50i is perhaps all the car you and I are ever likely to need.

It’s roomy, well equipped, rapid enough to outrun all but the most focused of sports cars and compliant enough to be used every day. And if its CO2 credentials are a concern, there’s always the X5 M50d.

Still, there remain those with the necessary financial means who will always seek even greater exclusivity. It is this small group of customers that M division is aiming at with this, the new, third-generation X5 M.

As with the latest X6 M, the 2020 X5 M is available in two distinct forms. Both run the same twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 from the M5. But while the standard model sold in other countries has 592bhp and 552lb ft, the range-topping Competition model that will underpin UK sales gets 616bhp plus the same 552lb ft. That’s 89bhp more than the twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 used by the X5 M50i, which again produces the same 552lb ft.

The X5 M sends its reserves through an upgraded version of the X5 M50i’s eight-speed torque converter-equipped gearbox and multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring function at the rear wheels, delivering effortless part-throttle traits in town and rabid acceleration on the open road. It’s all accompanied by a compelling baritone exhaust note, which is played through the speakers for added effect.

A wide range of chassis tweaks, including a brace across the front suspension towers to add rigidity and a mix of 21in front and 22in rear wheels, shod with 295/35 ZR21 and 315/30 ZR22 tyres respectively, bring a more sporting feel in comparison with the X5 M50i in any one of the driving modes. It’s quite direct in character by SUV standards and feels more agile than its 2300kg kerb weight suggests. However, the speed-sensitive steering wants for real feel and the ride is way too firm, even in its most relaxed mode, to be classed as comfortable on all but the smoothest roads.

The interior, with its own unique digital instruments and sports seats, is superb. It’s also a good deal more practical than the sloping-roofed X6 M, with the boot offering 650 litres of luggage space.

The X5 M should be commended for its explosive performance and outstanding road holding. But at £110,610, you pay handsomely for the privilege.

At £74,620, the X5 M50i offers almost as much performance but with more relaxed driving traits and the sort of comfort that makes it more suitable as an everyday car. It’s the one I’d have.

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