BMW
X5

Viewed as the company’s flagship sports utility vehicle, the X5 delivers power, performance, comfort and versatility all in one package. The spec level is excellent and the safety features are very well tested and proven to be class leading. Now available as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle too.

x5 side

x5 rear

x5 interior

The good

Great handling... get it dirty

The bad

You'll bring out the green-eyed monster in other motorists

Tech Specs

Price from
£44,280
Combined Fuel up to
85.6mpg
0-62 from
4.2 seconds
max speed up to
155mph
co2 from
78g/km

Test Drive

BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport

BMW took the electric car industry by storm when it introduced the fabulously cool i3 city car and the awesome i8 sports car, but now the Bavarian company has ventured into the plug-in hybrid market for the first time.

It comes in the shape of the X5 xDrive40e which combines a 2.0-litre 245bhp turbo petrol engine with an 113bhp electric motor and together they offer a whopping 313bhp of grunt, which means power and performance are certainly guaranteed.

If there were any doubt then the stats will definitely lay them to rest because the PHEV Beemer can sprint from 0-62mph in a very brisk 6.8 seconds and onto a top speed which is limited to 130mph. These are performance figures generally associated with the premium marque, but the really impressive feature is the just how frugal the car is delivering a very creditable 83.1mpg with carbon emissions of just 78g/km.

The X5 xDrive40e has an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles and as this is an xDrive model it comes with permanent all-wheel-drive to keep you motoring during those colder winter months.

Apart from some distinctive eDrive badging and the charging port, the hybrid version looks identical to any other X5 model – it’s big, bold and beefy with an athletic, ready-for-action stance.

Stand out features include 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof, M aerodynamic bodystyling and roof rails. The interior is light and spacious with ample room for five adults and there is technology and gadgetry to be explored at every turn.

Creature comforts include the likes of a steering wheel heater, a pitch perfect Harmon Kardon surround sound system, heated seats front and rear, internet access, enhanced Bluetooth with voice control and plenty more besides.

The battery is housed beneath the luggage compartment floor, so the boot’s capacity is still generously-sized at 500 litres (1,720 with the 40:20:40 rear seats dropped flat) and according to BMW the car can be fully charged in two-and-a-half hours from a wall box or three-and-a-half hours from a domestic power point. However, the position of the battery does mean there is no room for a third row of seats.

So the car certainly looks the business and is packed to bursting with techno treats, but how does BMW’s first hybrid SUV perform when put to the test? The answer is very well.

As with most PHEVs the BMW can be driven on electric power alone up to a distance of 19 miles (depending on driving style) and it still maintains its lively driving characteristics, albeit it in complete silence.

Acceleration is sharp and responsive and the elevated driving position means the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility at all times. In and around town, the car moves along elegantly with ease and is nice and agile, and then out on the faster country lanes and motorways there is always ample power. The road-holding is excellent although at times the ride was a little hard, but that aside, the car was a delight to drive.

There are driving modes called Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ that alter the car’s driving dynamics accordingly.

In addition there are three modes that allow the driver to significantly influence the car’s actual energy consumption. The first is Auto eDrive mode whereby the intelligent BMW EfficientDynmaics system determines the most efficient combination of electric motor and petrol engine. The Max eDrive mode means you can enjoy purely electric driving for approximately 19 miles up to speeds of 75mph. Anything faster and the petrol engine kicks in. Finally, in Save Battery mode the battery can be charged by the combustion engine or maintain the existing charge for when pure electric driving is needed.

All in all, BMW’s PHEV SUV is quite a car. It has all the power and driving dynamics of the ‘standard’ X5 model, but offers the addition of electric motoring which is invaluable to city dwellers with a short commute.

Admittedly at £55,925 (£62,605 with extras fitted) the X5 xDrive40e is not a cheap option, but it is a fabulous piece of kit that offers us a clear insight into BMW’s future hybrid intentions.

Test drive

BMW X5 third generation

It was back in 1999 when BMW introduced the world to the very first Sports Activity Vehicle – the classy X5.

They wanted to offer a vehicle that featured all-weather and all-road capabilities, along with the space of an SUV plus the exciting driving dynamics associated with the Bavarian car maker. And so the stunning X5 made its grand entrance into the motoring arena.

Now 14 years on and with more than 1.3 million sales clocked up, BMW has just launched the third generation of the mighty vehicle.

Although it is immediately recognizable as an X5 it boasts advances in design, versatility, comfort, safety, connectivity, efficiency, luxury and even driving pleasure.

Buyers can select from five TwinPower Turbo engines, of which four are diesel and one is petrol. It features an eight-speed automatic transmission along with the choice of two or four wheel drive (sDrive or xDrive).

Prices range from £42,590 to £63,920 and there are just two trims to choose from – SE or M Sport. However, two special packages to help personalize each vehicle are now available for the first time.

The first is called Design Pure Experience and it helps to emphasise the X5’s robustness via some eye-catching features, including brushed stainless steel underbody protection, kidney grille and air intake bars along with a titanium effect rear trim strip.

There is more high gloss black features and black leather on show. This package adds £1,760 to the cost.

The other package is called the Design Pure Excellence and it helps emphasise the vehicle’s elegance. Features such as the wheel arch surrounds and underbody protection are in the same colour as the bodywork.

However the kidney grille bars are black with high gloss chrome fronts. Inside, there is plenty of ivory cream upholstery which contrasts beautifully with the Atlas Grey leather instrument panel and door panel coverings.

This package costs an additional £1,160.

BMW has introduced a raft of changes to improve fuel efficiency, such as low-rolling resistance tyres, an ECO PRO driving mode, auto start-stop and brake energy regeneration.

As far as exterior design improvements, the new X5 certainly looks a lot sharper and even more athletic thanks to a raised bonnet, larger grille, wider-looking rear stance, full LED rear lights and four large air intakes.

Inside, there are newly-designed seats, increased passenger room, 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, an increase in storage to 650 litres (1,870 with the rear seats folded flat), an automatically operated split tailgate and a three-stage dashboard along with ambient lighting.

I tested out the mighty, range-topping M50d with its breathtaking 3.0-litre engine priced at £63,715. The asking price was increased by a further £13,115 due to a number of optional extras.

This car was fitted with all the M Sport spec plus plenty more besides and that diesel engine powers it to 62mph from a standing start in just 5.3 seconds. It finally tops out at an electronically limited 155mph.

The performance is certainly dynamic and not for the faint-hearted. It grips the road like glue and tight bends are attacked with ease and confidence.

Despite its size the X5 is extremely well insulated with virtually no engine or road surface noise and comfort levels for all occupants are excellent.

The driver can select from four driving modes which alter the car’s dynamics and performance. These are ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ and although the latter is definitely the most fun, the Comfort setting is certainly the most refined for everyday use.

Other features worth noting on the new X5 include the user-friendly sat nav system with 10.2-inch free-standing colour display screen, the technically advanced infotainment system and a brilliant head-up display. To be honest, there are flashes of luxury and technical wizardry at every turn.

According to official BMW figures the test model can achieve a combined fuel efficiency of 42.2mpg with carbon emissions of 177g/km. However on a 100-mile route incorporating busy town centres, fast country lanes and dual carriageways we fell short of that mark and only managed to see 29.4mpg.

The X5 is a capable off-roader but few people put it to the test. We did and it passed with flying colours. Steep ascents, descents, muddy woodland trails and slippery gravel tracks were seen off without any trouble or fuss and the passenger can watch how the traction is split between the four wheels on the display screen. Alternatively a clever camera option allows you to see the path ahead in beautiful high definition clarity.

As one would expect, BMW has packed a whole host of safety innovations into the vehicle. As well as the more instantly recognisable systems there is also a glare-free high beam assistant which automatically masks a section of the light when oncoming traffic is detected. And a BMW night vision system detects pedestrians and animals and includes a dynamic light spot to illuminate anything that is heat-radiating outside the headlight beam.

All in all, the list of exciting and innovative features on the new generation X5 seems endless and with so many optional packs and ways to personalize the vehicle, it can truly stand out from the crowd.

Test Drive

BMW X5 xDrive 40d M Sport

When the asking price of a vehicle is the same as a small terraced house in some parts of Britain, then it has to be pretty special and, to be fair to BMW, the X5 is an awesome looking vehicle that just loves to show off.

With a beefy, rugged design and front end that screams I-mean-business, the X5 wouldn’t be out of place on the set of an A Team movie, but there are some real touches of finesse along the way too.

The test model was supplied in a deep sea blue metallic colour and this added to its prowess – the X5 just wouldn’t suit pastel shades.

But the interior provided a far brighter and luxurious atmosphere with oyster-coloured Nevada leather contrasting excellently with the black fascias and flashes of silver scattered throughout the cabin.

The seats, which could be heated and moved every which way to find the perfect driving position, offered comfort levels that can only be matched by your favourite armchair and there was ample room for five adults to travel in luxurious comfort.

There’s plenty of storage options available too with a generously-sized boot that can be increased capacity-wise thanks to split-folding rear seats. In addition, there are numerous smaller compartments scattered throughout the cabin.

And as you might expect with a vehicle priced at £51,865 (£59,995 with the optional extras) the quality and depth of creature comforts is almost never-ending.

For example, there is four-zone climate control, cruise control, a heads-up display, sun protection glass, a media package that includes sat nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, BMW Assist, and a USB interface. But to be honest, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to specifications available on this model.

So it would seem the X5 has it all – great looks, incredible features and impressive comfort levels , but what about the drive.

Well hang onto your hats – that’s for sure!

For the 3.0-litre diesel-powered engine is bursting with power and the automatic transmission is incredibly smooth through the eight speeds.

The road-holding is impossible to criticise and cabin noise is very quiet.

In and around town, the X5 is deceptively agile and parking is made easier thanks to sensors and great camera options.

But in reality, it’s out on the open road that this 4×4 vehicle really comes alive with incredible power at your disposal.

Sometimes it’s hard to find any faults with vehicles these days, but the X5 has one glaring issue – visibility through the rear screen is poor especially with three headrests in the way too.

And if I’m being really critical and picky, the ride at times seemed a little bounce – although that could be down to our bumpy motorway surfaces.

Safety features are extremely comprehensive with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, numerous airbags and much more.

All in all, take out those rear headrests and this is a brilliant car for any active family that takes pride in its appearance.

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