Next to the 40i and the quad-turbo 50d, the X5 30d’s entry-level positioning suggests a modesty about the quantity and quality of this car’s performance that’s a bit misleading.
The inclusion of a launch control function seems frivolous on a car like this, but nevertheless it enabled this 2279kg entry-level diesel SUV to sprint from a standstill to 60mph in a fairly fleet-footed 6.6sec two-way average. Not only is that on a par with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it’s also 0.3sec quicker than the Audi Q8 50 TDI we road tested in 2018. Proof that BMW still doesn’t do ‘ordinary’ when it comes to its six-cylinder diesel engines.
The manner in which that acceleration is delivered is smooth and contained yet strong and seamless, that initial surge of torque as you come off the brake pedal possessing something of a tidal feel, and propelling the X5 forward with no shortage of conviction. That conviction begins to wane a little as you approach the upper rev-range, but only enough to remind you that it’s a diesel you’re driving; while the bassy rumble that initially permeates the cabin morphs into a more overtly diesel-derived engine note.
By the smallest of margins, the BMW pips the Audi from 30-70mph – the metric we use to gauge a car’s real-world performance – taking 6.6sec versus the Q8’s 6.7sec. Ingolstadt has the upper hand over Munich in terms of outright in-gear flexibility, though: the Audi will complete the same run in fourth gear in 6.8sec – 0.5sec faster than the BMW.
The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is ever-smooth. Step-off is progressive provided the input from your right foot isn’t too hurried, while cogs are swapped with silkenedged polish on the run. Select Sport mode and these changes are executed even quicker, with a degree more forcefulness. The presence of a proper manual mode that won’t upshift at the limiter provides further evidence of this new X5’s effective driver focus, meanwhile.
Refinement was also a particularly strong suit for the X5 as far as our noise meter recorded it. At a 70mph cruise, our sound gear recorded ambient cabin noise at 64dB, increasing to a maximum of 71dB at full throttle in fourth gear. The Audi Q8 recorded a 67dB figure at 70mph, confirming our general impression that BMW’s attempts to elevate the X5’s standard for outright cabin isolation have been notably successful – and that this has become one of the quietest and most enveloping cars in its class.