From £46,2608
Big-selling X5 derivative is spacious, smooth, suave and sporting on request, as well as being predictably good

Our Verdict

BMW X5
The X5 uses in effect the same platform as the previous generation, but it's been substantially revised

BMW sticks to its well proven SUV formula with the new X5, delivering a competent and refined off-roader – but one that's lacking those few extra flourishes

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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.

In the face of so much complication, we’ll probably never know for sure what the perfect rolling specification for a new X5 is. The only certainty, as the M50d demonstrated, is that there are myriad ways to get your order wrong.

Some reassurance comes with the fact that our test car (Sport transmission, adaptive comfort chassis, 19in rims) conducted itself well. Always quiet-riding, the car had gentle long-wave compliance in ‘Comfort’ mode, but it comes with some body roll and some deterioration in directional precision. Select ‘Sport’ mode and you get less roll and pitch and quicker steering response. The suspension does what it says on the tin, in other words. What it doesn’t have is an all-purpose ‘auto’ or ‘normal’ mode that expertly splits the difference between the two settings – so you spend many journeys flicking between them, wondering all the time whether you’re in the right one.

It’s a minor flaw that takes nothing away from the polished smoothness of the X5’s powertrain, or the exceptional spaciousness and strong material quality of its cabin. 

Should I buy one?

A Range Rover Sport is more desirable, more pleasant to be in, and is the X5’s dynamic superior. A Cayenne Diesel would probably likewise out-shine the BMW. Tellingly though, neither the Range Rover nor the Porsche can match the X5 on performance or fuel efficiency. Which suggests that, even in an increasingly crowded segment, there’s still a place for the sporting SUV that started it all.

BMW X5 xDrive 30d SE

Price £47,895; 0-62mph 6.9sec; Top speed 142mph; Economy 45.6mpg; CO2 162g/km; Kerbweight 2070kg; Engine 6 cyls inline, 2993cc, turbodiesel; Installation Front, longitudinal, four-wheel drive; Power 255bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 413lb ft at 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Join the debate

Comments
19

12 December 2013
[quote=Autocar].. A Range Rover Sport is more desirable, more pleasant to be in, and is the X5’s dynamic superior....[/quote] More desirable perhaps (though that's primarily a subjective thing), but I doubt the RR Sport can outhandle or outcorner the X5.

12 December 2013
[quote=Overdrive][quote=Autocar].. A Range Rover Sport is more desirable, more pleasant to be in, and is the X5’s dynamic superior....[/quote] More desirable perhaps (though that's primarily a subjective thing), but I doubt the RR Sport can outhandle or outcorner the X5.[/quote] AGREED, there is no way that RRS is dynamically superior to X5 or Porsche Cayenne, according to all the reviews i read, may be better off road capability, but not dynamics.

24 December 2013
How exactly is a Range Rover more desirable? No it isn't.. A third vehicle for footballers, for people that have won the Bingo, and for tasteless trash that have orange skin- I can't stand the Range Rover image- it's ghastly- and it's only in the UK where literally everything JLR produce is hailed as amazing... The XF outperforming the 5-series and E-Class in this magazine- what is that all about? what a shambles.

I know two people that have owned Range Rover Sports and both have told me that they would never buy anything from Land Rover again, turbo's going, water coolant problems, and electrical issues.

If I were in the market for a 60k 4X4 without question my money would be on the X5.

12 December 2013
No test off tarmac at all - the X5 is clearly intended for mainly on-road use, but come on this is a 4wd SUV - the RRS is always compared to the X5 for on-road capability so the X5 should be compared to the RRS for off-road.

12 December 2013
This X5 is based on the old X5,meaning it will be as reliable as the old one was & that's not a good thing!

12 December 2013
[quote=SJ19MB]This X5 is based on the old X5,meaning it will be as reliable as the old one was & that's not a good thing![/quote] Hmm, its not based on the old X5, the platform (sheets of metal under the car) is based on the old design, but updated to carry less weight, suspension and all other components have been redesigned or carried over from other new generation BMW's (thats what 'based on' means). Unless you had your X5 chassis breaks apart, i think you going to be OK!!

12 December 2013
[quote=carnut][quote=SJ19MB]This X5 is based on the old X5,meaning it will be as reliable as the old one was & that's not a good thing![/quote] Hmm, its not based on the old X5, the platform (sheets of metal under the car) is based on the old design, but updated to carry less weight, suspension and all other components have been redesigned or carried over from other new generation BMW's (thats what 'based on' means). Unless you had your X5 chassis breaks apart, i think you going to be OK!![/quote] 'Based on' means they started with the old model and redesigned and modified some parts, which is exactly what BMW has done with this X5, which saves huge costs, items such as the floorpan metal pressing you mention can cost £100 million in R&D costs alone. This isn't a clean sheet design, so the poster is right with his 'Based on' claim (whether that affects reliability is another matter.)

12 December 2013
yes agree i ma not sure aboout RR sport being better dynamically either...Not saying it won't be a close match but better...considering the X5 was one the dynmaic leader in SUV market, the new X5 should be better so unless RR performed a night and day miracle and produced such an amazing driving tool ..there is nothing in any road test that has revealed that it is that dynamically superior to the BMW. let alone a Cayenne

12 December 2013
I.m.o. the R R sport is far more desirable and prestigious, looks nicer from external and internal viewpoints ,I do not think the owners would lose sleep if it got 3 or 4 mpg less than the BMW even though BMW way overstate the mpg their vehicles are supposed to achieve.

12 December 2013
How do you know? Do you have any data to prove it? Have you carried out some scientific research? Or maybe it's just your opinion? In that case, shouldn't you say 'In my opinion the RR is more desirable'?

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