BMW X5 review

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BMW X5 front driving
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10 Aug 2015 22:00 | Last updated: 27 Sep 2018 15:59

In this review


What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

BMW X5 4x4 performance

The cheapest engine is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel, badged 30d, and even this offers gutsy performance. It’s a touch slow to respond if you floor the accelerator pedal from a standstill, but on the move it’s responsive and provides tonnes of punch – the only time it’ll feel strained is if you’re towing a particularly heavy load.

If you don’t fancy a diesel, you can plump for the 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol (badged 40i). It pulls even harder at lower revs than the 30d does, meaning it’s more responsive from a standstill, and acceleration is even faster as the revs rise.

We haven’t tried the quad-turbo diesel in the M50d yet, but its official performance figures promise earth-shaking performance; it should do the trick if neither of the other two engines offers enough grunt for you.

BMW X5 4x4 ride

The X5 comes with air suspension as standard, unless you choose the M50d, which gets adaptive steel suspension. We haven’t sampled the latter, but the air suspension in lesser X5s is fantastic and maintains super-smooth ride over even sharper potholes and ruts without ever making the car feel floaty or wallowy, like some other air suspension systems can.

Coarser surfaces, such as concrete motorways or ridged asphalt, can generate a touch of vibration through the steering and chassis, but only in extreme cases.


BMW X5 4x4 handling

The excellent air suspension deserves credit here, too; it does a terrific job of keeping the X5’s body upright and preventing it from leaning over too much, even when you push hard through some corners.

You also get plenty of grip from the chunky tyres, and the combination of this and the tidy body control means the X5 is an incredibly stable and reassuring car to drive along twisting roads.

The steering is good, too – progressive and well weighted – which makes it easy, even enjoyable, to steer the X5 along your favourite control road. Okay, a Porsche Cayenne handles even more sweetly, but the X5 is one of the best of the rest.

BMW X5 4x4 refinement

Diesel-engined X5s generate a noticeable thrum that you can hear inside. Unless you’re accelerating hard, the note itself is really rather pleasant, with a throbbing, sporty edge to it. But it never really goes away, even at a cruise, and when you push the accelerator pedal down farther, the noise becomes more strained and less enjoyable.

However, the petrol-engined 40i is better: blissfully smooth when you’re simply pottering along yet delightfully rorty when you decide to press on a bit.

All of the engines come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, and this is delightfully smooth. It changes up and down almost imperceptibly and reacts quickly when you call for extra power.

But while wind noise is well controlled, those big, wide tyres generate a fair amount of roar, and this gets noticeable worse over rougher, more broken asphalt.


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There are 3 trims available for the X5 4x4. Click to see details.See all versions
This is the cheapest X5 version, but it’s still pretty lavish, with leather seats, air suspension, ambient lighting, LED headlights and an infotainment system bristling with extra features all comi...View trim
Fuel Diesel, Petrol
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M Sport
This version of the X5 gets sporty looks and bigger alloy wheels but little else of much substance, so it isn’t really worth the additional cost...View trim
Fuel Petrol, Diesel
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Adds some important bits of hardware for a sportier drive and even larger wheels, but because the X5 is no sports car to start with, it’s hard to recommend paying the extra for this top-of-the-rang...View trim
Fuel Diesel
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