2013 BMW X5 M50d review

* Most powerful diesel X5 driven in UK * M Performance model has 375bhp * On sale now, priced from £63,715...

2013 BMW X5 M50d review

The BMW X5 M50d has the same power output as our favourite performance SUV – the Porsche Cayenne S Diesel. It’s quicker than the Porsche, though, and will cost less to fuel and tax.

Like the rest of the new X5 range, the M50d is lighter, posher and loaded with more equipment than its predecessor, but it also costs the best part of £64,000.

The M50d is the only car in the new X5 range that’s badged as an ‘M Performance’ model, which means it sits between cars fitted with M Sport packages and high-performance models built by BMW’s M division.

What’s the BMW X5 M50d like to drive?

With 375bhp and 546lb ft of torque at its disposal, the M50d is, unsurprisingly, very quick. It's not that much slower than a supercharged V8 Range Rover Sport from 0-62mph, although it gets there in a slightly less exuberant fashion.

The M50d's eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and intelligently when left to its own devices, but you can also switch to manual mode and use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to gain full control.

The engine is never completely hushed at low speeds, but there’s less of a constant hum than in the outgoing M50d, which shared the same underpinnings as this new model. Only when you put your right foot hard to the floor does the engine note ever become raucous.

Our test car was fitted with optional 20-inch wheels (19-inches come as standard), but little road noise makes it into the cabin. In fact, aside from some wind noise on the motorway, the M50d is a refined cruiser.

The M50d gets BMW’s variable dampers and rear air suspension as standard. Set in Comfort mode, this pairing goes a long way to smoothing out the ride over all but the biggest ruts.

Our car was also fitted with the Dynamic Suspension pack (£2495), which helps to reduce sway and counter understeer through fast corners. The X5 is a large and heavy car, but with this kit - and the M50d’s standard speed-sensitive steering - the turn-in is precise and body roll is almost eliminated. It feels less cumbersome than a Range Rover Sport, despite its similar weight.

What’s the BMW X5 M50d like inside?

There’s plenty of space for four large adults, as well a comfortable driving position and good all-round visibility for the driver. M50d buyers can choose between either full leather or part-Alcantara sports seats. If you forgo the dynamic suspension upgrade, you can also add a third row of seats that folds away into the boot floor.

The X5’s 650-litre boot space isn’t class leading, but will be sufficient for most buyers; with the second row of seats folded away, you get 1870 litres and a completely flat load floor.

While the interior finishes are more luxurious than in the outgoing model, they still don’t feel quite as special as those in the latest Range Rover Sport. That said, all the controls are sensibly positioned and the standard iDrive infotainment is wonderfully simple to use.

Standard equipment is generous, with dual-zone climate control, a DAB radio, parking sensors, a sat-nav system and 40/20/40 split folding rear seats coming as standard.

The M50d also has some interior touches to mark it out from lesser X5s, including bespoke trim accents, plus the obligatory 'M' branding throughout the cabin. A full M Sport bodykit with deeper bumpers and side skirts is also fitted.

Should I buy one?

The M50d is only £200 short of being the most expensive model in the new X5 range. It’s far from cheap, then, but it’s not poor value compared with rivals.

A Range Rover Sport SDV6 won’t cost quite as much to buy and it’s a more comfortable and refined car. However, it’s nearly two seconds slower to 62mph and simply isn’t as fun to drive.

The Porsche Cayenne Diesel S is the closest dynamic match for the M50d, but it’s not as practical. What’s more, while the Porsche is cheaper to buy, you'll need to trawl through a pricey options list to get it up to the same spec.

So, the X5 M50d might not be as luxurious as a Range Rover Sport or as sharp to drive as a Porsche Cayenne, but it offers a compelling blend of performance, practicality and running costs that neither rival can match.

What Car? says…


Porsche Cayenne S Diesel

Range Rover Sport SDV6

BMW X5 M50d

Engine size 3.0-litre diesel

Price from £63,715

Power 375bhp

Torque 546lb ft

0-62mph 5.3 seconds

Top speed 155mph

Fuel economy 42.2mpg

CO2 177g/km