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BMW X5 (2013-2018) review - Engines, performance and drive

No longer a dynamic benchmark, but fine diesels in X5 offer a combination of efficiency, performance and refinement

The original BMW X5 introduced sporty handling to the 4x4 sector, but the definition of how an SUV should drive has changed. Now, the best cars in this class blend sharp handling and excellent off-road ability with refinement to rival that of the top luxury saloons.

Yet even if you specify the X5 with the Adaptive Dynamic suspension, which some owners may find over-complicated, it can’t match the current class leaders for all-round driver appeal.

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While body roll is well controlled, the BMW rides too firmly in the sportier settings, making Comfort the mode you’ll want to stick to. As a result, you wonder whether the car really needs so many different settings.

Even in Comfort, the X5 tends to follow cambers in the road and never feels settled or relaxed like its rivals. This is a problem compounded by the strangely numb and inconsistent steering. Overall, the car has neither the composure and sharp reactions of the Porsche Cayenne nor the refinement and lightness of touch found in the Range Rover Sport.

If you think opting for the silent plug-in xDrive40e hybrid will help your cause, you're sorely mistaken. It is quiet in electric mode, but it's heavier and even less responsive. Put your foot down and there's an alarming delay from input to action, which can make it quite frustrating to drive.

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If it's crushing performance you're after, the X5M is a truly ballistic SUV. It leaves the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport SVR trailing in its wake with a 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds, while firmer suspension keeps the body even flatter in corners and makes the most of the immense grip.

Engines

BMW has shunned thirsty petrol engines for the X5 – it offers only one in the range, as it clearly believes the vast majority of buyers will opt for its excellent diesels. 

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Kicking these off is the entry-level four-cylinder rear-wheel-drive sDrive25d model, which claims over 50mpg fuel economy and a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds. The xDrive30d, meanwhile, offers an even more impressive blend of performance and efficiency – 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and 48mpg. 

Go for the more powerful xDrive40d, and the benchmark sprint time is cut to 5.9 seconds without affecting economy too much – it still claims 47mpg – although this model costs nearly £3,000 more.

In 2016, BMW launched a petrol/electric xDrive40e hybrid version of the X5, promising a total power output of 305bhp and claiming impressive 85.6mpg fuel economy. It'll do 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, but it doesn't feel particularly responsive.

At the other end of the scale is the X5 M, complete with a 567bhp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 and supercar-shaming straight-line pace. Even the 443bhp xDrive50i feels amazingly quick (for a vehicle the size of an X5), with a 4.9-second 0-62mph time. 

If you want ultimate diesel performance, look to the 381bhp M50d, as its 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds is simply breathtaking. This model’s 3.0-litre triple-turbo straight-six diesel really stands out.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    xDrive30d xLine 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £57,370

Most Economical

  • Name
    xDrive45e xLine 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £63,840

Fastest

  • Name
    xDrive M50i 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £73,680
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