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BMW X5 M Competition review

£108,420 - £125,420
Published: 30 Nov 2020
This swaggering 616bhp monsterwagen is what we get instead of an M5 Touring

Good stuff

At last, an M Division SUV with AMG's sense of humour

Bad stuff

So many settings. Premier League running costs. Premier League image


What is it?

It’s the M car the world wants right now, not the one it needs. The BMW X5 M Competition splices the drivetrain of BMW’s sublime M5 super-saloon with the body, high driving position and ‘move over, I’m running late for an appointment with the free-weights room’ demeanour of BMW’s middle-sized X5. The global thirst for SUVs means the X7 and a future X8 now top the X5 and X6 twins in BMW’s SUV ranks. An X5 isn’t anything close to a flagship these days.

Not that the X5 M lacks… anything, really. In the UK, we’re only flogged the range-topping Competition variant, because what sort of self-respecting oaf-dun-well could be expected to tool around with merely 592bhp on tap? The Comp’s twin-turbo’d 4.4-litre V8 is remapped up to 616bhp, though torque remains pegged at 553lb ft.

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The result is a school bus that goes like greased excrement off a garden spade. Engage launch control and the X5 M dispatches 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. Should you be minded to get to 124mph, this dump truck of oomph will blast you there in 13.4 seconds – 0.3sec faster than the poor, pathetic man’s X5 M. Loser. Spend £2,100 on the optional M Driver’s Package and your top speed leaps from 155mph to 190mph. Is there a word in German for ‘enough’?

All that punch means the X5 M Comp is a bargain. Stay with us here – this monsterwagen is very nearly as quick as the likes of a Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Bentayga Speed. It’s just as well-equipped, seats the same number of people in space and comfort, but it costs a mere £110,610. We just saved you £60,000.

The X5 M Comp is as close as BMW will tread to building an M5 estate, but this isn’t quite a jacked-up M5. While it shares the same engine, eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-focused four-wheel drive system, someone at M headquarters had the common sense to ditch the M5’s rear-wheel drive mode. They were likely fired shortly thereafter.

While you can’t fully disconnect the front driveshafts at the twiddle of the iDrive knob, BMW says ‘controlled drifts’ are possible in the X5 M, once you’ve summoned up the 4WD Sport mode, switched off the traction control, and hired a large expanse of open space for the afternoon. Gatwick Airport would do. Or New Mexico.

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Underneath, very little standard X5 remains. The M’s engine mounts are beefier, as are the suspension foundations. You get adaptive dampers with body-roll counteraction. The cooling and oil systems are approved for racetrack use. There’s more camber, fatter tyres, enormous brakes and you can even change the feel through the brake pedal, for no good reason we can think of.

For £110k, you’d expect plenty of kit. You get 21 inch rims up front, and 22s out back. There’s a menacing quad exhaust pipe kit, awful illuminated ‘M’ motifs in the multi-adjustable leather seats, and a practical split tailgate to impress none of the farmers who’ll be buying one.

Oh, and there’s no hybrid system buried deep in the car’s bowels. No 48-volt boost or Eco Mode. This is a full-fat, blood’and-thunder zero f**ks given BMW. More green hell than Green Party.

Whether you like the idea of German uber-SUVs or not, there’s no denying that the majority of them – Porsche’s Cayenne, the heavily Audi’fied Urus and several AMG 4x4s – are pretty bloody impressive pieces of engineering, even if their morality is flawed. BMW’s M Division tanks have ranged from the so-so (the old X5 M, for instance) to the downright shoddy (we’re looking at you, X3 M.)

So, has BMW pulled a true performance hero out of the bag this time, or given the world a 180mph pudding it doesn’t need and doesn’t deserve either?

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Possibly the silliest super-SUV this side of a G-Wagen. Mad, bad and dangerously expensive

There’s possibly no car on sale today that’s as configurable as the X5 M. Jumping in this thing to go for a drive is like firing up your Xbox for a quick 15-minute game and discovering it needs fifty terabytes of updates downloading. Those M1 and M2 favourite-settings keys will come in handy if you want to exploit this lunatic’s enormous reserves of computing power – and horsepower – every morning. This thing’s the definition of ‘over the top’.

What sets the X5 M Competition apart from the rest of the super-SUV set is how much respect it demands away from bone-dry, arrow straight roads. This isn’t a high-rise teleportation pouch like an Audi, Bentley or even Lamborghini’s Germanic Urus.

Perhaps the M Division’s been stung by the notion it doesn’t make scalpel-sharp serious drivers’ cars any more. Either way, the X5 M Comp can be a proper handful. Not a person on the planet needs this much potency from their family SUV. Even an X5 M50i is already taking the mickey, and it’s £35,000 cheaper. You could spend that on a Golf GTI.

The X5 M has a lot more AMG DNA – and maybe even a dash of the Range Rover Sport SVR’s demonic possession – lurking about it than BMW would prefer to admit. Someone on the sign-off team has been enjoying slithering about in a GLC 63, we’d wager.

So, if you just want a well-badged, over-endowed all-weather land chariot to lope about in, you should probably take your six-figure bank balance elsewhere. Or grown up, you show-off. The X5 M isn’t for you. This is an SUV that – despite physics, common sense and the sheer engineering challenge involved – has turned out to be seriously good fun, if a bit scary. The world needed that, didn’t it?

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