Here's why the new BMW X5 is more than just a massive grille

DriveTribe has driven the latest BMW X5 in the south of England to see whether it is still a markerpost for large SUVs

2y ago

The BMW X5 is one of those cars that has just 'been around'. It has never been as potent as the Porsche Cayenne, and in terms of feeling special inside, it's been hard not to look towards the four rings from Ingolstadt.

Nearly 20 years after its birth however, the X5 is potentially as strong a package as it has ever been. Despite this, the thing that BMW design is mostly associated with these days is its seemingly unending obsession with making its iconic kidney grilles large to the point of ridicule.

DriveTribe was invited down to Goodwood to test out the latest X5 and although those grilles were impressively large, let us tell you why this car is sneakily more special that you might think.

It has some lovely crystally bits (if you're into that)

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It might seem a tad chintzy for some, but BMW has unloaded some bling onto the X5's centre console. The starter button, the top of the iDrive selector and the gear selector are solid lumps of Swarovski crystal, a far cry from the plastic and metallic numbers of past BMWs.

We've already seen these shiny bits on the 7 Series but it definitely adds a new level of luxury to an interior that in the past has been known to be a little on the bland side.

It's the closest thing to a Bugatti Veyron that I've driven

What does the new BMW X5 have in common with Bugatti's biggest and best? A top speed of over 250mph? 10 radiators? A W16?

Sadly, none of those. But something it does share is the fact that it has four turbochargers. Those four little snails boost the X5's straight-six to 395bhp, enough to get the M50d to 62mph in 5.2 seconds. They're not exactly Bugatti numbers but seem plenty to pull out of the school car park and impress the rival Porsche parents.

Even on road tyres, it can seriously off-road

I can't imagine anyone will take their new X5 anywhere more adventurous than a leafy lane but that didn't stop me from taking it down some fairly challenging forest tracks. The new xDrive four-wheel drive system now comes with snow, sand, gravel and rocks settings, each of them messing with the diffs, traction control and ABS to make the car as capable and controllable as possible.

For a bit of muddy off-roading in the south of England, the gravel mode was perfect, along with a bit of hill descent action to stop my right foot getting jittery. I'm not a fan of driving off-road at all but the Beemer did a pretty decent job of making the ordeal as smooth as possible, especially seeing as it had 22-inch alloys and road tyres.

It will bail you out of horrendous reversing manoeuvres

We all get ourselves in sticky patches that mean we need to very quickly get the car in reverse and escape. Like when you don't anticipate a passing place properly on a narrow road and you need to initiate a 'reverse of shame' back to the nearest inlet. Well, the X5 comes with a reverse parking assistance feature that should make the whole ordeal much less stressful.

You only need to keep your foot riding the brake pedal to dictate the speed, otherwise the car will retrace its exact steps, seeing as it constantly remembers the road fifty yards behind itself at all times. The steering is all done by the car, returning through the exact footprint it once advanced over and getting you out of a sticky spot without any hassle. Next time you have a face-off with a farmer, this feature could come in extremely handy.

It has kept its split tailgate. Which matters.

We all love a split tailgate but there are so few cars these days that bother with them. In the world of 'autotainment', a split tailgate is a must for decent car-to-car shots, with the cameraman positioned in the boot shooting backwards. It's not something that will excite the average person but for those wanting to hang out of the back of a car, it's a must.

Having covered most of West Sussex throughout the day, I wouldn't say there's anything spectacular about the X5, but there's no doubt it will fulfil almost all of your practical automotive needs. 400PS from the M50d isn't going to send your stomach into the back seats but you never know, an X5 M could change all that in the near future... (Psst, BMW, get the twin turbo V12 from the M760Li in there. Please!).

BMW X5 M50d

What do you guys think about the new X5? Would you pick it above the current crop of large SUVs? Cast your vote below!

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Comments (15)

  • That drive selector is ghastly!

      2 years ago
  • Looking forward to driving one. There is a lot to be getting used to - big grille, rear end.

      2 years ago
  • Someone on Twitter said the back end looks like a Ford Galaxy and now I can’t unsee it. That’s said X5’s are great. Motorway cops love them for a reason.

      2 years ago
    • Because of its excellent high speed stability and the ability to fit many traffic cones in the boot?

        2 years ago
  • And how does the cooling system manages 4 turbochargers without more radiators?

      2 years ago
  • Would still take the Audi Q7/Q8 over this.

      2 years ago