What is it?
In all likelihood, this will be the biggest-selling BMW X5 of the renewed range: the xDrive 30d.
For those not initiated into the logic of BMW’s current naming regime, that means 3.0-litres and 255bhp of straight-six turbodiesel power, an appealing blend of sub-7.0sec 0-62mph performance and 40mpg-plus economy, and a sub-£50k starting price.
We’re testing it just as the wider X5 lineup fully fills out. This month brought the beginning of production of the xDrive 40d, -25d and -35i models at BMW’s Spartanburg factory, as well as the only two-wheel drive derivative: the four-cylinder, 149g/km sDrive 25d. Keep your eyes peeled for a verdict on the latter early in the new year.
What's it like?
Clearly no daring reinvention of the luxury 4x4 concept - nor even the idea of a BMW X5 in all honesty. But it’s spacious, convenient, refined and lavishly appointed. Munich’s tried-and-tested approach to model replacement also puts the X5 well ahead of the prevailing class standard on performance, fuel-efficiency and handling precision - right where you’d expect a new BMW to be.
It’s a relief to report as much just a couple of months after our road test of the X5 xDrive M50d. The headline 376bhp diesel seemed too highly strung for our tastes, falling a long way short of what we expect from a big 4x4 on rolling refinement and lacking consistency in its primary controls.
The xDrive 30d is like a different car entirely: much more proportionate of response, much easier to drive, and still sufficiently wieldy and poised to feel more athletic than the SUV norm.
It’s a difference that perfectly illustrates what has become an insoluble problem for anyone ordering a premium German car, and for BMW buyers more than most. Munich has broken new ground even by its own standards in complicating and confusing the ordering process of the X5.
The car comes with a passive coil suspension setup as standard, but there are no fewer than four ‘adaptive’ alternatives to that – Comfort, Dynamic, Professional and M-Sport – which introduce active dampers, a self-levelling air-sprung rear end, stiffened and shortened springs, active anti-roll bars and an active ‘Dynamic Performance Control’ rear differential into the mix in varying combinations. Depending on engine and equipment, you can also add an active variable-ratio power steering system, as well as a sport automatic transmission. And that’s before you have to choose between a barrage of 18-, 19- or 20in alloy wheels.