Pull up alongside a new X5 and you might not immediately tell it apart from the previous-generation car. The kidney grille has grown to near-comical proportions and the front air intakes are larger, but the recognisably heavy-set design and stoically furrowed brow remain.

You’ll certainly notice the shadow that is cast by this car. The X5 has never been small but equally never has it gobbled up quite so much road space. BMW’s Cluster Architecture platform gets a second BMW SUV application and enables growth to the X5’s wheelbase (+42mm), overall length (+36mm) and width (+66mm). At 2110kg, the X5 is now also 40kg heavier than before.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Kidney grille, now with a single-piece surround, has been enlarged for the new X5 and houses active air flaps. Vertical slats are chrome for xLine models and gloss-black for M Sport

By the end of 2019, both eight-cylinder and plug-in hybrid powertrains will be offered. For now, the exclusively straight-six engine line-up consists of a petrol 3.0-litre 40i and two torque-rich 3.0-litre turbodiesels. The powerplant in the top-of-the-line M50d oil-burner is remarkable in that it employs no fewer than four turbochargers to deliver 561lb ft from 2000rpm and a claimed fuel economy of 41.5mpg combined. The lesser 30d tested here has a quarter of the air-compressing hardware but will be far more popular, costing roughly £14,000 less and still mustering 457lb ft and 261bhp. All models use the same eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

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Given the typical usage of these cars, four-wheel drive as standard is more for the sake of car-park credibility than necessity, although the rear-biased system can now shuffle torque to the front axle with even greater speed. Go for M Sport trim or the Off-road package and, as in the case of our test car, BMW will fit a locking ‘e-diff’ rear differential. Four-wheel steering is also an option.

New to the X5 and standard on the 30d and 40i is two-axle air suspension; the sharper-handling M50d gets steel springs and adaptive dampers as standard, and can have either active anti-roll bars or air springs as an option. Embodying the car’s versatility, the air suspension allows for 60mm of ride-height adjustment, lowering by 20mm in Sport mode for better high-speed aerodynamics or lifting up to 40mm for off-road duties.

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