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ROAD TEST: BMW on a grand scale


There’s no doubt about it… the latest X5 from BMW is Xtra Large.

The previous model was big but this is even longer, wider and heavier than before, weighing in at more than two-and-a-quarter-tonnes.

If there’s one thing – well four actually – that sums up this beast, it’s the 21-inch wheels. To be more specific, it’s the tyres which encase them.

They are truly huge slabs of rubber – foot-wide, run-flat monsters which look as though they mean business keeping this Teutonic beast firmly stuck to the road.

At around £400 a pop, that’s exactly what they should do, and they say everything about this car.

It’s all on a grand scale, from the purchase price, almost equivalent to three of the entry-level 1 Series, to the cost of the comprehensive list of options, which in the case of the test car added more than £14,000 to the final bill.

The panoramic glass sunroof alone is £2,440, and if you must have your instrument panel wrapped in leather, that’ll be another £1,250 thank you.

You can’t blame BMW. They’re catering for their affluent customers who are happy to cough up for a full range of toys in their ultimate driving machine, and there’s no doubting the quality of everything in, and about, this car which oozes sophistication from every pore.

If you want the best then you have to be prepared to pay for it and there doesn’t appear to be any shortage of potential owners around Scotland lining up with cash in hand.

So what will they get for their money in this latest version of BMW’s Sports Activity Vehicle which first appeared 20 years ago?

It’s no longer called an SUV apparently as there’s nothing that could be classed as utilitarian about this model.

Park it alongside the outgoing model and you might not see much difference. The silhouette is pretty much the same but at the front end, the signature kidney grille appears to have been on a course of steroids and hides active air flaps behind the black vertical slats on the M Sport version of the test car.

At either side are the Laserlight headlights which it’s claimed have a beam range which is 200 metres longer than standard LEDs, piercing through the darkness to an amazing half a kilometre.

The rear view isn’t too shabby either and the designers have been wise to retain the 80/20 split rear door which rises to reveal the expanded cargo space.

Chrome trim around the discreet spoiler highlights the dimensions but the dominant feature of the back end are the two enormous chrome tailpipes.

The cockpit is deliciously sumptuous although I worry about the practicality of the test car’s ivory white Merino leather upholstery once it’s subjected to the rigours of family use.

The infotainment and digital instrument screens are enormous – more than a foot wide, but that means a big improvement in clarity, especially for picking out the detail on the satnav.

However, with the tachometer and speedo in an analogue style in a half-octagonal scale on either side of the display, it means the revs are on the right and have to run anti-clockwise, which makes it a wee bit confusing.

A bit creepily, the new X5 is the first to have an in-cabin camera, rather than steering-wheel sensors, to check whether the driver is paying attention to the road ahead, by scanning their eyes. Big Brother BMW is watching you.

On the road and thanks to the air suspension, the ride is delightful whether cruising on the open road or pushing on down more variably-surfaced back roads.

This is a quiet place to be thanks to the acoustic glazing (a £500 option) and the £2,000 technology package including superb surround sound and a crystal-clear display.

Four-wheel drive is standard if you want to venture off road and the rear-biased system can transfer torque to the front axle even faster.

The air suspension allows for 60mm of ride-height adjustment lifting the car by up to 40mm for rough terrain work or lowering it by 20mm in Sport mode for better, high-speed aerodynamics.

By the end of 2019, there will be the option of eight-cylinder and plug-in hybrid engines, but for the moment there’s a choice of a straight six-cylinder petrol 3.0 litre and two 3.0 litre turbodiesels, the less powerful of which was in the test car.

Even so, it still returned plenty of power and tons of torque with an impressive sub-seven-second time to 62mph through the deliciously smooth eight-speed auto box, but you’ll have to go easy with the right foot if you want to get anywhere near the claimed 45mpg consumption figure, especially if you engage the Sport setting.

The X5 has been around for a while and it’s clear BMW has stepped up a gear to offer a higher-quality luxurious X5 equal to the likes of the Range Rover Velar, the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7.


  • Model: BMW X5 xDrive 3.0d M Sport
  • Price: £60,375 (£74,920 as tested)
  • Engine: 2,993cc six-cylinder TwinPower Turbo diesel common rail direct injection
  • Performance: Top speed 143mph, 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds
  • Economy: 45mpg combined
  • CO2 emissions: 162g/km

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