As far as quasi off-roaders go, BMW’s X5 has been a huge hit with everyone from serving as the company car for a well-to-do executive to yummy mummies using it for the school run. It went fast, was inoffensively styled (Cayenne anyone?) and had the same luxury appointments as the 5-series sedan on which it was based. It’s little surprise, then, that the old X5 remained one of the best selling premium SUVs since its introduction in 1999, with over 600,000 of them finding a home.
With the second generation, BMW has dropped the facade that the X5 is anything but an off-road bush basher by equipping it with all-weather run-flats as standard. My test car was kitted with the optional sports pack, which adds 19in wheels (18in standard), BMW’s Active/Servotronic Steering and AdaptiveDrive damper control.
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BMW claims that the range comes with “even more powerful and efficient engines,” but the outgoing 4.8L V8 developed 5 more hp than the new one, 355hp vs. 350hp – so who they trying to kid? Engine choices include either gasoline or diesel six-cylinder motors as well as the range topping V8 model as tested here. Engineers have upgraded the xDrive permanent all-wheel drive system, and retained the 40/60 front to rear torque split. A brand new suspension setup comes with modified A-arm double wishbones at the front instead of the former’s struts, and a revised four-link fully independent set-up at the rear. It doesn’t match the brilliant air suspension from the Q7 and Touareg, but it does the job and, more importantly, it improves on the previous X5, which itself was top notch.
Though it’s hard to spot, every inch of the new X5’s sheet metal has been changed. It’s been nudged by a few inches in every dimension, but this isn’t enough to stop the styling from looking dated. For a company hell bent on having some of the most avant-garde styling in the automotive biz, it looks like BMW allowed its designers go on holiday when they were creating the X5.