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BMW X5/X6

£44,095£65,680
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Better in pretty much every area and thus even more complete than before

Against: 

It's still a BMW X5 so still has, um, slight issues with its image
You might not like to admit it, but the BMW X5 is a damn good car.

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Our choice

BMW

xDrive30d SE 5dr Auto

£41,445
N/A
34mpg
8.10s
235bhp
217g/km

What we say: 

Are you an overachieving building contractor with anger management issues? Then step this way...

What is it?

Oi, stand back, world: the latest BMW X5 is here and it’s coming through, now. Bigger, bolder and brasher than ever, it’s fortunately also better: for all the issues you may have with image by association, this is a very good car. 

Despite the monster tri-turbo M50d, the best-sellers will remain the regular diesels though, now offered in rear-drive four-cylinder sDrive25d and 4WD xDrive30d guise. And these engines also underpin the X5’s even more reviled sibling, the X6. Yes, car fans, it’s back, bolder and brasher than ever.

Driving

Damn, the X5 is good to drive. Perhaps not quite as overtly sporty as previous models, but as an overall package, it really takes some beating, with a measured ride, crisp handling and near-total confidence in all weathers and all remotely road-based surfaces. To really venture a long way off-road you’ll still need a Range Rover, but for most people the BMW will suffice. 

That 381bhp tri-turbo M50d is very amusing and immediate, with barely believable surge given its economy. But the xDrive30d, now with 258bhp, still does 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds, so is perfectly quick enough in its own right. 

For the X6, read X5, but with a more sporting focus. It sounds unlikely, but BMW really has given it a nuance of driver-pleasing edge, though you’ll ultimately not escape the fact it’s a two-tonne SUV. Physics rules all.

On the inside

BMW really pored over every  aspect of the old X5 in order to make sure this one was better in every way. It’s now calmer inside, appreciably more hushed and smooth, while a subtle repackaging means there’s more space and flexibility. There’s still a seven-seat version and this is that bit easier to use: even more of a viable family-focused people carrier.

But it’s the generally higher quality of everything you see, touch and hear that’s the most overriding impression. This is the same for the X6, which shares the X5’s interior, although it doesn’t share its practicality: despite its bulk, it’s optimised for four, not seven, and the boot’s far from optimal. 

Owning

All BMW X5 and X6 are, naturally, pretty sprightly things on the road: the 3.0-litre diesel now breaks the seven-second mark to 62mph. But it can also return over 45mpg too, in that typically barely creditable BMW way. The 2.0-litre sDrive25d X5 version is even better; trade a bit   of speed and refinement (oh yes, and two cylinders) for 50mpg and 149g/km. Buy now and BMW will tempt you with more options than before, enhancing all areas from outside, to within, to suspension, to steering. Necessary? No. The standard one is a fine thing.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
xDrive50i M Sport 5dr Auto
4.9s 226g/km 29.1 449 £64,390
The cheapest
sDrive25d [231] SE 5dr Auto
7.7s 139g/km 53.3 231 £44,095
The greenest
xDrive40e SE 5dr Auto
6.8s 77g/km 85.6 313

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

9/10

BMW 5 Series Touring

£33,010£50,920
Don't like the image that goes with large, luxury SUVs? Buy the even more impressive BMW 5-Series Touring, then