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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:BMW X5


On the inside

Layout, finish and space

Goodbye to BMW’s neat and simple shapes. No more oblongs and circles. The X5’s dash is all about acute angles now. The instruments, a virtual set, won’t permit you circular dials – you’re forced into polygonal clocks that trade legibility for attention-seeking.

Everything has brushed ‘metallic’ surrounds that don’t actually feel like any metal was harmed in their production. The ‘piano lacquer’ plastic is so wavy you’d swear the music would be out of tune. The grey switches are unreadable when backlit. The climate controls have been dealt a superfluous redesign that subtracts clarity. The gearlever can be, optionally, a faceted glass thing like the stopper of a cheap sherry decanter. The whole thing aims to be lavish, but over-promises and under-delivers.

This is a pity. The fundamentals are strong. Great seats, ideal driving position, a solid feel to the way the major controls work. The iDrive gets more complex than ever in its brand-new ‘version 7.0’ iteration, but it still feels like it’s basically on your side. It makes good use of the huge screen. They say the redesign allows drivers to change the layout to suit themselves. (Unless they want round instruments.)

Connected services, including traffic and an onboard wifi hotspot, are standard. So’s a wireless charging plate. For a bit extra you can get a pair of cupholders that’ll heat or cool.

The back seat is roomy, and the boot too. The seven-seat option motorises the middle row forward, so’s to make access to the third one fairly straightforward. And because you can leave it part-way forward, it’s possible to negotiate tolerable third-row legroom.

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