What is it?
This is the BMW M division’s take on an SUV, the X5 M, finally in the UK after an exhaustive build-up (releasing the X6 M at the same time probably didn’t help matters).
These models represent the M division’s first xDrive variants, and they both use the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine that could well form the basis of the next M5.
It’s a potent unit, sure enough, making the X5 M the most powerful M car to date. Its 547bhp sounds impressive enough; more startling is the 502lb ft of torque, which is available from just 1500rpm right up to 5650rpm. That’s enough for the X5 to crack 0-62mph in 4.7sec and reach a limited top speed of 155mph.
Other stats of note? It costs £76,110, returns a claimed 20.3mpg (combined) and emits 325g/gkm of CO2.
What’s it like?
Shockingly rapid, for starters. If the X5 M has an obvious rival it’s Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo, and it’s more than up to the task of taking it on. The BMW is considerably more powerful and while it’s slightly weaker in terms of torque, the spread at which its twist is available is a few thousand rpm wider. So in raw pace, there’s not much to choose between the two high-performance heavyweights.
The X5 M is 0.4sec quicker to 62mph, and while its limiter stops the fun 16mph before the Porsche maxes out, that’s unlikely to bother anyone in real-world conditions (and if you’re intending to try it out, can you let me know so I can be in a different county?).
Dynamics? Well, this is still an SUV – but as long as you keep that fact in the back of your mind, it’s reasonably effective. Body control has long been an X5 strength and the X5 M builds on this; it hangs on with admirable aplomb around corners, helped by steering that is a little on the heavy side, but impressively feelsome for something of this size. The six-speed automatic gearbox is quick enough, too; it’s rarely caught out.
There are downsides, though, and they do a disappointingly decent job of spoiling the party. First, the X5’s cabin – while acceptable at just north of £40k – falls short of the plushness required at almost double that figure. Truth is, the M’s cabin feels little different from that of a regular diesel X5.