BMW X5 30d M Sport

BMW X5, front
BMW X5, front
BMW X5, front
BMW X5, front
BMW X5, front
BMW X5, interior

IT'S one of the kings of the road...at least as far as the SUV pack is concerned.

The BMW X5 might not quite be capable of conquering the Eiger's slopes like some all-terrain rivals but it will certainly show a clean set of alloys to most competitors on Tarmac, where the majority of high-riders spend their time.

The chunky, box-shaped X5 made its debut 20 years ago and established itself as one of the few SUVs to combine sporty driving dynamics with an appetite for mud-lugging.

Over the years, little has changed in terms of concept although the vehicle has ballooned in size and now bristles with high-tech aids.

The latest version, now in its fourth generation - complete with huge in-your-face grille - comes with a choice of diesel , petrol and electric power sources.

The most popular model is the 3.0 diesel, which is reviewed here. It might not have the clout of the mighty quad turbo, but nevertheless whacks out a healthy 258bhp with sufficient torque to tow a decent sized elephant.

As you'd expect, it's quick, and not just in a straight line, although 0 to 60mph in less than seven seconds is pretty nifty for a large four-wheel-drive. It corners flatly and confidently with enough steering feedback to help you know when adhesion is finally being lost.

There's real pleasure in driving a big SUV that handles with finesse. Not least because its height allows you to see over car roofs and hedges and take full advantage of overtaking opportunities.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox changes up and down almost intuitively and barely noticeably making progress effortlessly smooth.

The straight six cylinder diesel is silky in the way that four-pots can never quite manage. Apart from at tickover, it purrs along with barely a murmur.

It's a seriously big car, though - some 66mm wider than its predecessor. This can cause obvious problems both on narrow country lanes which are home territory for vehicles like this and in the supermarket car park, another natural environment.

While boggy fields or muddy tracks are no problem for the X5, its owner may find themselves irritated by the fact that the doors don't wrap around the sills. So when you get out - or climb down if you are under 5ft 8in tall - you are left with a muddy stripe across the back of your legs...as my better-half discovered.

The cabin is vast and beautifully furnished, more like a flashy Munich boardroom than a car. The successor to iDrive works well and isn't too demanding of non-techy types despite the touchscreen that takes centre stage of the fascia.

Head and legroom is more than adequate front and back with ample holders, bins and pockets for the usual clutter.

And the boot which swallows up 650 litres of luggage with rear seats in position which is about as much as anyone will ever need. Fold the rear seats down and this grows to 1,870 litres. You can order the X5 with a third row of seats as an optional extra.

FAST FACTS

BMW X5 30d M Sport

Price: £57,760

Mechanical:258bhp, 2,998cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 142mph

0-62mph: 6.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 40.9

Insurance Group: 42

C02 emissions: 153g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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