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The Top Gear car review:BMW X5/X6
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
xDrive30d SE 5dr Auto
It’s a hybrid SUV, with tech borrowed from the BMW’s i8 flagship. But is it really more useful than a turbodiesel?
Interesting but not the X5 we’d have. It’s not even the large SUV to have. Not BMW’s finest hour.
We test the cheapest version of BMW’s largest SUV with a more eco tilt than most. And rear-wheel-drive. Wait, what?
Mighty triple-turbo engine helps the M50d to ungodly speeds. But spare a thought for the poor suspension.
Technology from the i8 is heading to the rest of the BMW range… Paul Horrell reports
The new X5 is smoother, faster, more frugal and more spacious than ever. The best high-rise estate you can buy.
The new car is noticeably more hushed, plush and smooth in every way…
There’s still lots to like about the X5. Especially the rapid new diesel and eight-speed gearbox combo.
BMW is once again demonstrating the dark art of diesel tuning - the new BMW X5 xDrive40d is the most powerful diesel in the range.
Not what M cars should be about – too flabby and nowhere near enough fun. One to avoid.
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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.
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.
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.