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The X5 is bigger than you think

Created on 17/11/2015 @ 11:24
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Test Drive by Graham Breeze

Getting stuck in a car wash can be an embarrassing situation for any driver so you can just imagine how red-faced this seasoned motoring journalist was when the washers clamped down on the £60,000 BMW X5 test car.

Luckily, and sheepishly, I was able to clamber out to seek help to be told the vehicle was probably too big, which was a surprise as the same car wash had previously dealt comfortably with Range Rovers and an Audi Q7.

It transpired that there was just an inch to spare each side of the drive-in guide rails and with a bit of jiggling around the situation was rescued. But the incident highlighted just how big and spacious the seven-seat X5 is, something you don’t really appreciate once on the open road.

BMW has found it difficult to compete in this sector where Range Rover, Audi and Porsche have strong footholds but the xDrive 40d M-Sport on test is a seriously efficient contender now and feels so secure on the road it’s easy to forget you’re in such a big SUV.

Set proudly on 19” double-spoke alloy wheels the X5 sets an imposing stance, and once behind the wheel you are soon made to feel at home, thanks to masses of steering and seat adjustment options with superb vision all-round thanks to the high seating position.

It can sometimes take a week to get used to the dashboard controls when behind the wheel of a new vehicle but not in this case. Everything is just where you would expect it to be and the iDrive infotainment system is right up there with the best in the business.

The X5 gets five seats as standard but the test car came as a seven-seater though you wouldn’t get me travelling far as a rear-seat passenger. There’s just about enough room for a couple of small kids and the extra seating eats into your luggage space.

Fold the rear seats and the X5 reveals 620 litres of load space, drop the second row and there’s an enormous 1,870 litres of room just waiting to be filled.

On-the road the X5 is probably not as refined as some of the opposition out there. There’s nothing significantly wrong with the drive, other than perhaps more wind noise than expected, but it lacks a little something to make it stand out in a competitive SUV sector.

You would probably expect the X5 to be a gas-guzzler but the test model had a few surprises to reveal. The 3.0litre twin-turbo straight six diesel was coupled to an incredibly smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox and produced 47.1mpg on the combined cycle.

That’s very competitive in the SUV sector, particularly when you consider there’s 0-62mph in just under six seconds and CO2 emissions are only 158g/km.

Standard equipment in the test car included 19” alloys, automatic sport transmission, adaptive M-suspension, roof rails, electric door mirrors, sports seats, Aluminium Hexagon interior trim, M steering wheel and aerodynamic body styling.

For that you would have to pay £55,765 but add a cold weather package, towbar, reversing camera, panoramic glass sunroof and third row seating and the cost leaps up to £60,795.

The good news is that all BMWs normally hold their price so you could expect to trade-in well when it comes time to change again.

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