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The best off-roader on the road. Image by Dave Jenkins.

The best off-roader on the road
The twin--turbo diesel X5 is the best yet, sealing its postion at the top of the class.


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| A Week at the Wheel | Cambs, England | BMW X5 3.0d SE |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

BMW's facelifts are always a question of subtle nips and tucks rather than major operations. The cosmetic differences to the new BMW X5 are therefore quite limited with front and rear treatments that are neat evolutions of their predecessor's. The tail end, in particular, looks much smoother. The nose is more likely to divide opinion courtesy of its rather bold grille.

On the inside the X5 offers high standards of accommodation in terms of space, comfort and ergonomics. I-drive has been rationalised with the addition of more shortcut keys, but several years of familiarity mean that its operation is now fairly intuitive; indeed many rivals now offer similar systems and none is perfect. Seats that offer this degree of comfort and adjustability are few and far between. During two 350-mile driving stints we never felt anything other than utterly comfortable. The refinement and driving environment make the X5 a very pleasant place to while away large amounts of time covering big mileages.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

We've extolled the virtues of this powertrain in several places already. The versatility of the 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin turbocharged engine is proven again in this latest application; it does a very fine job in the X5. Even when tasked with moving over two tons of SUV the diesel's 428lb.ft of torque shrugs off bulk with comparative ease, hauling the X5 to 60mph in less than seven seconds, with in-gear performance that, if anything, is even more impressive than this measure of outright acceleration.

A slick shifting automatic gearbox complements the engine well, the only negative would that it perhaps holds onto gears a little too long and therefore doesn't fully exploit the low speed torque. The Tiptronic and Sport modes work well too, ensuring that the performance at the other end of the rev range is equally accessible. There is no doubt that this X5 would make an excellent tow vehicle as well.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

Given the lofty centre of gravity and the kerbweight of the X5 it would be fair to make an allowance for the handling prowess. In practice this simply isn't necessary though, as the driving experience is akin to most large estate cars. Body movement is well contained and grip is plentiful. Whilst stopping short of calling the chassis sporting, it would be fair to say that it is a fine set-up that is better than any of BMW's rivals' current offerings. Large alloys shod with low profile rubber do diminish the ride quality slightly; an inch less in diameter is probably worth the trade off in terms of comfort versus aesthetics.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

£50k could never be considered to be cheap, but in this rarefied market sector it represents good value. The diesel engine is the sensible choice in the range, combining as much performance as most would ever need from an SUV with economy that makes a mockery of its petrol siblings, and those of rivals; we averaged 26mpg during our week.

As ever with BMWs, one needs to be careful with the options list to keep the price in check. One could live without the M Sport package, but aids such as the parking sensors are essential in increasing the practicalities of driving and parking a vehicle of this size in an urban environment.

Overall: star star star star star

Already excellent, the facelifted BMW X5 has raised its game to even loftier heights. The addition of the landmark diesel engine adds another weapon to the armoury that, as yet, rivals cannot match. The X5 remains the class leading SUV, and by an increased margin.

Dave Jenkins - 25 Feb 2008    - BMW road tests
- BMW news
- X5 images

2008 BMW X5 specifications: (3.0 sd M Sport)
Price: £47,675 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 7.0 seconds
Top speed: 146mph
Combined economy: 34.4mpg
Emissions: 216g/km
2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.

2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.

2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.

2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.

2008 BMW X5. Image by Dave Jenkins.


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