I’m sure you don’t habitually feel sorry for car manufacturers, but you might find it instructive to consider some of the things that they have to factor in to every car they design. Homologation legislation and crash testing plays havoc with design, which is why there are so few good-looking cars any more. People expect more features and luxury, yet also want less weight and greater economy.
Now consider the lot of the SUV designer: they now face the fact that customers might want a car that looks like an SUV, but they certainly don’t want it to drive like one. So although I am no fan of the SUV genre, I do admire those who manage to persuade a car as high and heavy as this new BMW X5 to be as good to drive as it is.
No, this is no sports car. But it is a capable thing, offering strong performance from its 3-litre diesel motor, accurate steering and composed manners. That it also manages to ride reasonably well is commendable, too. Its interior is spacious, its operating system beyond serious reproach.
Just don’t spend too much time working out how much quicker, more frugal and cheaper a 5-series Touring will be when specified with four-wheel drive and the same engine, and definitely don’t drive one and discover how much more fun it is. Yes, the X5 has seven seats and a (slightly) bigger boot if you fold down the rear seats, but to me that’s not enough. The X5 is a convincing example of an art that is very hard to master, and harder still to love.
BMW X5 30d MSport
Engine 3.0 litres, 6 cylinders, turbo
Power [email protected]
Power to weight 124bhp per tonne
Transmission Eight speed auto, four-wheel drive
Top speed 143mph
Verdict Buy an estate instead
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