September 2013

BMW X5 xDrive30d SE

Discreet changes haven't disturbed the clear X5 look

September 2013

picture of car from the frontpicture of car from the rearpicture of car interiorpicture of car in detail

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5 stars


  • Slick engine and gearbox combination as good as ever
  • Superb interior is comfortable and attractive
  • Lots of space for passengers and luggage
  • Excellent on-road dynamics


  • Changes to the exterior don't go far enough
  • Six and seventh seats not suitable for adults
  • Plethora of suspension options confusing
  • Off-road pack only an option

The X5 was arguably the first car to give genuine car-like dynamic abilities to something the size of an SUV, and in doing so it lead to a boom in the luxury segment. Since then there have been dozens more rivals and stiffer competition, and to stay ahead of the pack BMW has introduced its third generation X5.

The first thing to note about the latest X5 is the relatively minor number of changes to the exterior. Always a handsome machine with a strong visual presence, the changes amount to a redesigned front valance with better aerodynamics, while down the flanks there are the 'air breathers' that have featured on more recent BMW models, again to better channel the air for better efficiency.

Underneath the skin the X5 will incorporate a wider range of engines in time but from launch the 3.0-litre diesel unit remains the most popular choice. Thanks to some technical tweaks it has gained in horsepower and torque over the outgoing version, and yet emissions and fuel consumption have also been reduced. The impressive eight-speed automatic gearbox has also been carried over.

Once again the X5 benefits from high-tech 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.

Available for the first time on the X5 are a number of option packs. The Pure Excellence and Pure Experience design packs bring unique details inside and out, while there are four different suspension packages to suit a wide range of needs.

Our verdict on the BMW X5 xDrive30d SE

Small detail improvements to what was already a highly impressive package have done a great deal to cement the X5's position as a superb luxury SUV. As quiet and comfortable as a luxury saloon but still retaining the crucial BMW driving dynamics makes it a terrific all-rounder.


Running costs will be relatively high given the performance and size of the X5, although the efficiency of the 3.0-litre diesel unit has improved again making it better than ever.

Space and practicality

Perhaps unsurprisingly 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

A crystal-clear layout comes as standard with the X5, and although there are a multitude of functions to deal with the combination of clearly-labelled buttons and the slick i-Drive controller make it all pretty straightforward.


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 is 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.

Car security

All X5 models are fitted with a Category One approved alarm and immobiliser, as well as anti-theft bolts on the alloy wheels and remote central locking.

Car safety

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 LED active lights and hill descent control. Added to this is the extra security and stability of the standard four-wheel drive system for extra reassurance.

Driver appeal

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. The combination of the strong diesel engine and slick automatic gearbox makes for very relaxed progress and yet it responds sharply when driven with more enthusiasm. The same goes for the suspension and steering set up, which are relaxing and comfortable but also responsive.

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

However easy it is to drive, the X5 is too big and too expensive for a newly-qualified driver.

Quality and image

The level of quality throughout the X5 is very high indeed, with excellent fit and finish and 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)

A large and crystal-clear display screen sits proudly on top of the X5 dashboard and makes staying in control easy. The standard audio system offers an impressive level of sound quality and with the i-Drive controller and steering wheel buttons it is easy to stay in control.

Colours and trim

BMW has increased the number of colour and trim options with the optional Design Packages, and although perhaps at the extremes of taste even in white the X5 still manages to comes across with a strong visual style. On the inside there are choices for hides and trim to complete the look to a high level.


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. The optional Reversing Assist produces an overhead view of the car through a clever camera system, giving a near-panoramic view of the car and leaving no excuses for poor parking.

Spare wheel

Run flat tyres fitted as standard.

Range information

Petrol engine options - 4.4-litre petrol (449bhp). Diesel engine options - 3.0-litre (258bhp and 313bhp). Transmission options: Eight-speed automatic gearbox. Trim levels: SE, M Sport, M.

Alternative cars

Land Rover Discovery Imposing on and off-road, good value

Mercedes-Benz M-Class High quality, attractive car, very competent all-rounder

Lexus RX450h Luxury SUV more road-biased, no diesel option

Audi Q7 Unusual styling, usual high quality Audi product

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