Logic has left the building. Or at least it will do when someone walks into their dealer and places an order for the new X5 4.8iS. Nobody needs this pumped-up caricature of an already brilliant 4x4. It’s a study in pointless extravagance and, at £58,025, costs £20k more than the pick of the range, the 3.0d Sport.
Even if you are hell-bent on a V8, you’d struggle hard to convince us that the 4.4 Sport and the resulting five-figure sum you’d have in your back pocket from choosing it over the iS wasn’t all you’d ever need. The 4.6iS sold in tiny numbers, and the 4.8iS is likely to sell in similar amounts. So what is it about this car that’s so appealing?
Posture. The 4.8iS works brilliantly, like the 4.6iS before it. They hunker down on gigantic rims and exhale through funnel-sized exhaust pipes; tweaked X5s with enough bad attitude to send Mr T scurrying back to his GMC van with his gold chains between his legs. It’s an American influence: no longer is it enough to have a great car. To gain respect on the street, lilies need gilding, so BMW has reached for the gold-plate machine.
Doubtless the Germans could come up with some figures proving that the iS’s various body addenda, including the comical rear diffuser, add crucial stability to the X5 at autobahn speeds, but the effect on the high street is less certain. The 20-inch wheels are so wide the thing appears to roll along on four beer barrels.
All X5s look tougher up front following the recent restyle, when they gained a recontoured bonnet and more aggressive grille, but the iS adds further menace with a reshaped front valance. There are two iS-only paint treatments: this Imola red and Le Mans blue, as seen on M3s everywhere, and two chromed rectangular exhaust tips poking into the face of following traffic. But if you want the showy aluminium running boards, or the swivelling headlights, your bill will get bigger.
There’s more to the most expensive X5 than simple cosmetics, however. The success of Porsche’s rapid Cayenne Turbo has proved that there is a small but affluent band of people willing to pay a large premium to sit high and travel very quickly. And in the absence of a proper M-power version, this is as hot a factory-produced X5 as you’ll get. M-badge or not, the figures don’t put it far off.