BMW X5 driven

* superb comfort and control * Identical to the old car * On sale now, from £43,980...

BMW X5 driven

Now the balmy evenings are with us it seems difficult to believe that only a few short months ago we were in the grip of the most severe winter for years. That cold snap made people warm more to 4x4s, so now seems like a good time for BMW to let loose its revised X5.

The visual changes are not what youd call dramatic. In fact, youll need to be a bit of a Poirot to spot the revised bumpers, tweaked front and rear light clusters and repositioned foglights.

Whats less of a mystery is why inside the X5 remains one of the most luxurious places to while away the miles. You sit perched up in a lord-of-all-you-survey driving position, on supportive leather sports seats and surrounded by lush materials. There are also enough powered toys to keep the most enthusiastic cybergeek amused, you get the distinct impression that even with the cars starting price of 43,980, theres not a whole lot of profit for BMW in each X5.

Diesel favourite

At the moment, around 95% of all X5s will be powered by diesel, but that figure could well increase with the addition of the new 40d model. Dont be misled by the name: its actually a 3.0-litre engine with one small and one large turbocharger to give smooth pick up at low revs and a great deal of extra thump when you put your foot down. It produces 302bhp and 443lb ft of torque, so is a truly stunning performer: itll hit 62mph from rest in just 6.6sec (thats just 1.1sec slower than the gas-guzzling twin turbo petrol V8), yet it will return a hugely credible 37.7mpg on the combined cycle and emit just 198g/km of CO2.

Complimenting the engine perfectly is the latest eight-speed automatic gearbox, which changes gear imperceptibly even when you stand on the accelerator to overtake slower traffic.

On- and off-road

Although the X5 is no serious mud-plugger, its four-wheel-drive and hill-descent systems both help keep you on the straight and narrow as well as aiding your descent down slippery slopes.

Regardless of road conditions, the X5 is simply a stunning car to drive. Our test cars came fitted with active anti roll bars and variable suspension dampers, which helped two tonnes of X5 ride like a limo in a straight line and nip around corners with the agility of a car half its size.

Now that's our idea of cool.

What car? says

Still one of the best 4x4s

Peter Tulin