What is it?
The third generation of the BMW X5. Rather than presenting too many changes, the success of the previous models is why the styling of this new X5 simply ‘refines and reinforces the X5’s look of presence and elegance’ says designer Olivier Heilmer.
And, technically, the X5 is more a substantial update than wholesale reinvention, says project leader Siegfried Muller. The platform is essentially the same, but the upgrades are significant and go to the core of the X5, its body-in-white being reworked for strength and lightness. The shell is now five per cent stiffer without piling on weight, and the car itself is significantly more refined.
What's it like?
Muller’s toughest mission was tackling criticisms of the outgoing model’s ride, refinement and aura of quality, without adding heft.
He's done well, with reductions to the bulkhead, glasshouse and wheel-well noise transmission improving refinement by a useful 2.5dB, while new seats have reduced vibration, and the subtly softened suspension smothers sharp bumps more effectively.
Steering feel changes noticeably, too, for being electrically rather than hydraulically assisted to save fuel, as does the drag coefficient which drops from 0.34 to 0.31.
More obvious, though, is the classier cabin. Its subtly curving decor, superior materials and adjustable mood lighting enhance an architecture that’s still familiar; and improved rear space, a bigger boot and the third-row option, now split 40:20:40, complete the upgrade.
BMW’s efficient dynamics mission sees the xDrive30d motor gaining 13bhp and 15lb ft of torque while sprinting to 62mph 0.7sec faster despite streaming 33 fewer grams of CO2.
You’ll also enjoy this oil-burner’s much-improved manners, its clatter and growl now buried in background hum. Lots of low-rev urge and the eight-speed auto’s excellent anticipatory skills make for authoritatively brisk and effortless performance that, at lower speeds, shades the petrol xDrive50i.