BMW X5 X5 3.0d SE
Subtle restyle includes new headlights
- Diesel engine is great to use and reasonably economical
- Ride and handling mix is first class
- Interior is well built and attractive
- Overall build quality is very good
- Styling may not suit all
- Running costs will be relatively high
- Six and seventh seats not suitable for adults
- No low range gearbox option
Arguably the first SUV to combine typical values of the breed with the level of roadholding and comfort more synonymous with sports cars, the BMW X5 has been one of the most popular cars in the segment and for the manufacturer. The original car, introduced in 1999 has been replaced with a second generation car, which now faces much tougher competition.
BMW has been careful not to tamper too greatly with the exterior shape, which has won over the hearts of buyers despite initial controversy. For the second generation car subtle enhancements have been made, including a small increase in overall length. The design is a subtle evolution of the old car, increasing aerodynamic efficiency to aid economy whilst retaining the key design features of all BMWs.
Mechanically there are some significant changes too, designed to improve the X5's ability both on and off-road. Most significant is the use of double-wishbone front suspension, the first such application on production BMW and an arrangement ideal for producing high standards of ride and handling. It also comes with X-Drive, a four-wheel drive system which distributes the power between individual axles to make the most of the available grip.
For the first time the X5 is available with features seen elsewhere on BMW cars, such as Active Steering and Adaptive Drive. The Active Steering system changes the ratio of the steering, giving very quick and light steering at low speeds for easy parking, then at higher speeds increasing the ratio and reducing the power assistance for improved feel. Adaptive Drive uses electronically controlled anti-roll bars to simultaneously give a smoother ride yet minimal body roll.
A further key difference between the second generation X5 and its predecessor is the availability of seven seats. This has been made possible by an increase in the vehicle's dimensions, as well as a rearrangement of the load area. The rear pair of seats are designed for child use only, and can be folded flat into the boot floor to give a large load space.
Our verdict on the BMW X5 X5 3.0d SE
The second generation X5 could not be as great a leap forward as the original car was, but its overall competence is truly excellent. The looks are subtly improved, the cabin is smarter and more spacious and the driving experience is better than ever, with more powerful and fuel efficient engines and better ride and handling.
Running costs will be relatively high given the performance and size of the X5, although the difference between the diesel model and the V8 petrol will be quite considerable.
Space and practicality
The bigger exterior dimensions has resulted in greater interior space, and even with five adults aboard the X5 is a spacious car. Head, leg and elbowroom are all in plentiful supply, while the boot is also large. Storage space within the cabin is less plentiful, as there are numerous cubbies but many of them are relatively small.
Controls and display
As with most BMWs, the cabin layout in the X5 is excellent. All the controls and displays are clearly labelled and sensibly laid out, with the large number of minor functions taken care of with the I-Drive controller. A new addition for the second generation X5 is a joystick-style gearlever, which requires much less effort to use and takes up less space.
Another strong point of the X5, comfort is impressive throughout. The front seats are particularly good, with a wide range of adjustment. The second row are also good, although the third row where fitted is suitable for children only. Road and wind noise are very well suppressed, while the engines only make their presence felt when revved, making for a very comfortable cabin.
All X5 models are fitted with a Category 1 approved alarm and immobiliser, as well as anti-theft bolts on the alloy wheels and remote central locking.
The X5 is packed with standard safety equipment, including a full complement of airbags, ABS and stability systems as well as useful extra features such as hill descent control. Added to this is the extra security and stability of the standard four-wheel drive system for extra reassurance.
They key to the appeal of the X5 its all round driving ability. In normal use it is a comfortable car, easy to drive and undemanding. All the engines are capable of relaxed cruising and have sufficient torque for easy progress. More impressive is the X5's ability to cope with enthusiastic driving. The steering is sharp and well-weighted and the suspension control is very impressive, making the X5 a fun car to drive when the roads are clear. Few cars in the class can match this breadth of ability.
Family car appeal
The X5 is ideally suited to performing family duties, given its all-road ability, comfort levels and the amount of space on offer. Especially in seven-seat form, it has the capability to cope with almost any size of family.
First car appeal
The X5 is somewhat large and expensive for new drivers, and the purchase price, running costs and insurance are likely to prohibit many of them for purchasing one.
Quality and image
The level of quality throughout the X5 is very high indeed, with excellent fit and finish with high quality materials used throughout. The image of the X5 is also very strong, being one of the most desirable cars in its sector.
Getting into the X5 is easy, with large opening doors and a high ride height, which puts the seats at a perfect height for passengers. Slightly shorter passengers may find they have to climb up into the seat a little, but this does mean a much easier exit. Loading cargo into the boot is also simple, helped by the low loading lip.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The X5 is fitted with a single CD/radio unit as standard, with MP3 compatibility and an auxiliary socket for connecting external devices. The sound reproduction is very good, and steering wheel buttons make it easier to control the system.
Colours and trim
There are various options for cabin colours and trim, but almost regardless of choice the X5's cabin is attractive. The combination of wood, leather and aluminium is discreet and tasteful, and the quality of the materials is excellent.
The X5 may be a big car, but all round visibility is good, and park distance control is fitted as standard, which makes parking relatively easy. Optionally the X5 can be fitted with Active Steering and a reversing camera, both of which make parking easier still.
Run flat tyres fitted as standard
Engine options: 3.0-litre petrol (272bhp), 4.8-litre petrol (355bhp), 3.0-litre diesel (235bhp). All are linked to a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. Trim levels are dictated by engine size.
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