BMW X5 M50d14 | 03 | 2014Scotcars rating

    How good is the BMW X5? We get to grips with the latest M-sport diesel version

    APPARENTLY IT’S NOT a myth. The Swedish do indeed have at least 50 words for snow. We shouldn’t be surprised. Just think how many descriptions we have for rain, something we’ve seen too much of lately. Teeming, stair-rods, cats and dogs, bucketing etc and we all know what it’s like when it is persisting down. It’s the same with mud, ranging from the slightly messy stuff to the really sticky variety which attaches to your shoes and welcomes itself into your house or car. But mud has its attractions when off-roading and the muddier the better.

    The third generation BMW X5 is a sophisticated piece of kit with some nice updates and improvements on the previous model. It’s extremely capable away from the tarmac with a big brain which does a brilliant job in transferring power around the four wheels to get maximum traction from whichever of them is able to establish grip. Which is a shame, and a bit of a waste, as the majority of them will encounter little more demanding than the kerb at the local supermarket.

    This car is labelled by BMW as an SAV, a Sports Activity Vehicle, to differentiate their range from the more common SUV. Fair enough, because there’s nothing utilitarian about the X5. It’s superbly finished inside with more space and a third row of seats which can be folded into the floor individually. For the first time the X5 is now available in two wheel drive to open it up to a wider market who want the road stance and image of the 4x4, but have no need for its off-road ability.

    There’s also a smaller four cylinder, two-litre diesel engine priced at just over £42,000. The three-litre, six cylinder xDrive30d has improved economy and reduced CO2, but more power and torque, and at the top of the range is the xDrive50i with a new generation 4.4 litre V8. All versions come with an eight-speed auto box with a mode which adapts the engine management, accelerator response and transmission characteristics and even programmes the climate control and heated seats and mirrors for the most efficient use of energy.

    The M50d test car had a three-stage single turbo version of the three-litre diesel with big improvements in power and torque but again with greater economy and reduced emissions. On the road it is a delight, especially when you call up the Sport setting on the Drive Dynamic Control for livelier performance in accelerator response and suspension characteristics.

    The luxurious interior and undoubted on-road performance were complemented by some impressive ability in challenging conditions. The huge 26cm info screen houses a whole range of displays, including real-time details of body roll and pitch, and exactly which wheel is being sent power as the vehicle struggles for grip.

    Onboard cameras help with positioning in tricky landscapes, and on the road work with radar sensors to provide active cruise control. Along with hill descent, the vehicle feels very confident on steep drops and is superbly capable in dealing with the claggiest of conditions, even while shod in its massive road tyres.

    Although the overall look is the same, there have been styling changes to improve efficiency including active upper and lower air flaps in the front air intakes, air deflectors on the front wheel arches and detailed vertical aero Curtains and Air Breathers, which ensure that air passes over the wheels with the minimum of disturbance, and Air Blades, which work with the rear spoiler to smooth airflow around the car. The most noticeable change is the raised height of the bonnet to incorporate pedestrian safety measures and a much larger signature kidney grille.


    Should I Buy One?

    If you rarely leave the tarmac, you’re spending a lot on unnecessary offroad ability. If you can afford it, it’s a great cruiser.

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    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £63,715 / £76,830
    Engine / Power: 3.0-litre 6 cyl turbo diesel / 381hp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 5.3 secs / Max 155mph
    How big/heavy?: L4886mm W1938mm H1762mm / 2190kgs
    How thirsty/CO2?: 42mpg combined / 177g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 50 / Band I £220
    Alternatives: Audi Q7; Mercedes M Class;  Infiniti FX; Jeep Grand Cherokee; Range Rover

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