While it’s all change for the Sportage, BMW’S X5 has received some subtler revisions.
With one million models sold worldwide since 1999, the firm isn’t messing with a winning formula – so this latest version benefits from visual tweaks, increased standard equipment and uprated engines.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the BMW X5
Does that make it the best sporting SUV you can buy? We drove the entry-level xDrive30d SE to find out. Lay eyes on it, and you’d be hard-pressed to see the differences. But fresh xenon headlights with bright white LED rings give it more presence, and other tweaks such as larger bumper vents, a lower scuff plate and new foglamps freshen up the front end.
At the rear, new lamp clusters boast horizontal LED light bars, while there are larger exhaust pipes and a redesigned bumper. Inside, leather upholstery is now standard and Lane Departure Warning, Active Cruise Control and side-view cameras to help parking are all available as options.
The lofty, comfortable driving position is the best in the class, quality throughout is superb and there’s the option of seven seats. Loading luggage is made easy by the split tailgate, too.
Under the skin, all X5s benefit from a new eight-speed automatic gearbox. It works especially well with the uprated 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel – which now delivers 242bhp and 540Nm of torque, and takes the X5 from 0-62mph in only 7.6 seconds. Ratios are juggled intelligently and effortlessly so that there’s always crushing response under your right foot.
This doesn’t come at the expense of refinement or efficiency, though, with the smooth unit posting 38.2mpg and CO2 emissions of only 195g/km. It drives brilliantly, too. Body control is tight, the steering is sharp and it’s great fun on a twisty road. On the motorway, it’s relaxing and quiet. It also rides well. Although there’s hill descent control, buyers keen on off-roading should look elsewhere; spend all your time on tarmac, and the X5 will not disappoint.
Rival: Range Rover Sport
A truly amazing all-rounder, the Range Rover Sport is nearly as good to drive as the X5 on the road – and has incredible talent off it. However, it’s not as fast or as efficient in diesel trim, and is a strict five-seater.
Although the updated X5 hasn’t benefitted from radical changes, the tweaks have improved an already impressive car. Thanks to the revised diesel and new automatic gearbox, it’s even better to drive than ever. Yet it’s surprisingly economical and reasonably cheap to tax, too. Add in a spacious, quality cabin with the option of seven seats, and you’re looking at one of the best sporty SUVs money can buy.