BMW X5 M costs from £90,180
The previous generation BMW X5 M was powerful but unforgiving
It’s powered by a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which develops 567bhp and 553lb ft of torque
BMW has enlarged the kidney grille for additional cooling of the V8 motor
Signature M division badge gives away the X5’s high performance potential
These are BMW’s optional forged 21in alloy wheels; 20-inchers are standard. In both cases, rear wheels are 11.5in wide, wrapped in huge 325-section tyres
X5 M’s driving position is raised but not bent-legged
Seats are a highlight for their comfort and support
Plenty of room in the rear, too. Although a Range Rover Sport SVR offers marginally more
Dials are clear, while the standard head-up display includes a rev counter and a gear position indicator in Sport+ mode
Two-tone leather and carbonfibre trim are options
Heated steering wheel is an optional extra
BMW’s Professional media system is standard and rivals the best on the market. It’s easy to navigate using the iDrive rotary controller, while the display is crisp and clear
BMW X5 M’s boot is long and deep
There’s enough room for a couple of bags under the floor, not least because there’s no spare wheel
X5 M’s engine and gearbox are little short of sensational
Braking performance is just as impressive as the mighty acceleration
X5 M loses composure on rougher roads in its stiffer damper settings
The X5 M has levels of grip, agility and body control that some sports saloons would struggle to match
The new SUV performance champion is a little short on delicacy and charm
Close by Nic Cackett 13 May 2015 Follow @@autocar Share
How we test cars
With the original X5, BMW virtually invented what we now know as the sports utility vehicle.
The cross-pollination of clunky 4×4 and Bavarian driving machine ought to have been as silly as mountaineering stilettos, but it turned out to be the answer to modern motoring: slyly involving when necessary, a quarantine of elevated solitude when not.
The previous generation X5 M and X6 M SUVs were unforgiving machines to live with and run, and were ultimately overshadowed by better-known rivals and less-compromised stablematesNic CackettRoad tester
However, while profligacy and power were conspicuously at the heart of the BMW X5, BMW failed to take it to its inevitable conclusion, leaving others – notably Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – to sweep in and build supercar-fast versions of their contemporary SUVs.
Realising its error, BMW instructed M division to hollow out the BMW X5 and BMW X6 and remake them in its own image.
The results, equipped with the firm’s new twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 motor, were among the quickest SUVs ever built. But they were unforgiving machines to live with and run, and were ultimately overshadowed by better-known rivals and less-compromised stablemates.
Now, with the latest F15 variant of the X5 a little over a year old, M division has returned with a second run at what it thinks a fast SUV should be.
First and foremost, it has been keen to point out that the revised V8 makes the M-badged model more efficient than ever – claiming a 26% improvement in range. But this being M division, it hasn’t forgotten to make it yet more powerful either, with a 10 per cent rise in peak torque making the Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo look positively limp-wristed. However, in the same breath the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S has a 10bhp advantage over the BMW
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Nevertheless, the SVR came scandalously close to delivering everything we could want from an anti-socially fast 2.5-tonne SUV. To equal its five-star score, the BMW must live up to the Land Rover’s rich and usable charm, as well as its speed. Onward.
BMW X5 M costs from £90,180
Model tested: Rating:
BMW X5 M 2015-2018
GoodHuge, bewildering speedHandling prowessLavish interiorBadToo many dynamic optionsSteering a touch indelicateBumps continue to trip it up