BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport (Tested: April 2017)
This specification would probably be our pick of the range. Its wonderful six-cylinder turbodiesel engine and smooth automatic gearbox are brilliantly matched with the X5’s refined and solid-feeling cabin design, but unlike higher-powered versions you won’t suffer with high fuel, tax and insurance costs in quite the same way
‘Doesn’t quite combine the best of the performance car and SUV worlds’
While it’s relatively easy to rapidly propel a large, heavy object in a straight line, making it change direction like a smaller, lighter one requires some fairly heavy duty interventions against physics.
BMW has not been shy about applying the necessary technology to the X5 M. In addition to having stiffer springs and shock absorbers plus a 10mm reduction in ride height compared with regular X5s, the M has Dynamic Drive active anti-roll stabilisation, self-levelling rear air suspension and specially calibrated electronic stability control systems.
The result is certainly impressive. The active anti-roll successfully checks lateral movement in the corners so the M leans far less than you initially expect, while the cunning chassis electronics and clever four-wheel drive set-up help extract maximum traction from the high-performance tyres.
It is exceedingly fast. However, if you’re used to either performance cars or SUVs, it’s not quite true to say the X5 M gives you the best of both worlds.
The ride quality is firm. While Comfort is acceptably compliant for UK roads, it’s still brusquer than a conventional SUV and those big wheels always feel heavy. The sportier settings are borderline unusable on UK roads, as their lack of compliance begins to compromise the X5’s ability to cling on to bumpy surfaces.
Use the X5 M to its max, and you can practically watch the fuel gauge plummet as you fully extend your right foot – the difference between fuel economy when cruising and pressing on is especially marked in this SUV.
The claimed 25.4mpg average is an optimistic dream.
It isn’t quite as engaging to drive as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo nor as outright ballistic as the dull-witted Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, instead sitting between the two as a kind of happy medium.
‘Technically impressive but diesels will make more sense to most buyers’
Outside of BMW’s specialist i-model range, the X5 xDrive40e SE is the first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) to feature the blue and white roundel.
BMW claims this X5 will achieve 85.6mpg, but in the real world you’ll struggle to achieve 40mpg. For the majority of people, the xDrive30d diesel we’re already acquainted with makes much more sense over longer distances.
However, with up to 19 miles of electric-only range available – admittedly not if you take it up to its 75mph maximum in EV mode – it’s possible to complete a relatively short daily commute without burning a single drop of unleaded in the process.
Charging up takes around three hours from a conventional mains socket.
With a 2.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged engine combining with the electric motor sandwiched between it and the eight-speed automatic gearbox, 245hp and 450Nm of torque are generated, allowing the sprint from 0-62mph to be completed in 6.8 seconds.
More impressive is the seamlessness with which the conventional engine blends in and out – at lower speeds the rev counter’s lack of action is your only signal that you’re in EV mode, although it is surprisingly audible at the higher echelons of the rev range.
As impressive a technical exercise the BMW X5 xDrive40e SE is, the customer base who’ll benefit from it is narrow.
BMW X5 SUV model history
- November 2013 – Third-generation X5 SUV introduced with a range of petrol and diesel engines in SE and M Sport specifications. More popular diesels start with the rear-wheel drive sDrive25d, with four-wheel drive standard on the xDrive25d, xDrive30d, xDrive40d and flagship M50d. The petrol choice is restricted to the xDrive50i. Five seats are standard with a third row available as an optional extra.
- October 2014 – High-performance X5 M available to order for deliveries commencing in April 2015. Propulsion comes from a 575hp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, enough for a 4.2-second 0-62mph time.
- August 2015 – Power for the sDrive25d and xDrive25d increased from 218hp to 231hp.
- November 2015 – Plug-in hybrid xDrive40e derivatives launched, combining electrical power with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. SE and M Sport specifications available.
- May 2016 – Improved iDrive multimedia system with more intuitive menus and greater connectivity to smartphone apps.
Buying a new BMW X5
- Two-wheel drive models not as capable off-road
- Our choice is the xDrive30d M Sport
- Don’t go overboard with options
That BMW X5 sDrive25d with its low list price might seem appealing, but without four-wheel drive you could look foolish come winter (unless excellent winter tyres are fitted), and it will likely put people off when you come to sell.
A far better idea is the more costly xDrive30d, which represents the best compromise between running costs and ability.
All X5s are well-equipped from the off, but we’d recommend going for the more desirable M Sport trim.
If you’re planning on using the car for outdoor pursuits or simply for ferrying children ignore the lighter interior colours; although they look great now, after some muddy boots or ground-in chocolate is introduced to the upholstery it’ll quickly look shabby and un-cared for. Black trim hides a multitude of sins.
Options-wise, there are loads to choose from, so tread carefully. We’d stick to the adaptive suspension, panoramic glass roof and seven-seater package to make it easier to sell on.
Buying a used BMW X5 SUV
- Look for damage before buying
- Try to find a BMW approved used car
- Carry out a car history check
There’s a fair chance that any used BMW X5 you look at will never have ventured any more off-road than the supermarket car park or the school playground, but do check underneath for any damage incurred in the undergrowth. And for those used for urban exploits only ensure there are no car-park dings or school-run scuffs.
The same goes for the interior, which might have been subjected to the onslaught of children and the detritus they bring with them, especially if the X5 you are looking at features seven seats. You might find a five-seater X5 cheaper anyway.
All engines should be capable of higher mileages, especially the diesel models, so don’t be put off by lots of numbers on the odometer. If you spot a towbar, check what it’s been used for; bike racks will put little strain on the drivetrain, but an X5 that has towed horse boxes, a boat or caravan might not be as fresh as one that hasn’t.
We’d suggest a car bought from a BMW dealership would be a good purchase. These come with a minimum 12-month, unlimited-mileage warranty for added peace of mind. Ensure any car you buy has a comprehensive service history too, ideally from a main dealer.
Whatever you do, invest in a Parkers Car History Check to ensure there are no hidden nasties lying in wait for you.
Selling your BMW X5 SUV
- Keep a comprehensive service and maintenance record
- Fix all damage before selling
- Compile a good-quality advert with images and video if possible
If you can afford to shell out for a brand-new X5 then chances are you’ve got the cash to maintain it properly too, but the good news is the German firm offers a five-year service and maintenance plan for a reasonable one-off payment. Regardless, it’s important that you can show buyers it’s been looked after.
If you’re one of the few owners who’s ventured off the blacktop, then ensure any scuffs, scratches or damage incurred while green-laning (or on the school run) is repaired.
Those X5s that have spent their lifetime carrying children will likely need a deep clean inside, the good news being the standard leather seats will be wipe-clean so easy to refresh as you go.
Ensure you spend sufficient time composing a persuasive advert complemented by an attractive set of photographs and price your X5 sensibly by using Parkers’ Valuation tool.