Electrified engines arrive along with revised look and even more lavish interior
Electric cars may be the primary subject of attention and BMW’s investment these days, but the firm’s traditionally motivated cars still take the vast majority of its sales. Hence the facelifted Mk4 BMW X5 is far from an irrelevance, even if it does still burn a lot of dinosaurs.
In fact, reducing this SUV’s size-10 carbon footprint has been a primary goal, with the fairly comprehensive list of changes including new mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines – among them the 3.0-litre diesel in-line six in the xDrive30d tested here.
Already seen in other recently launched BMW cars, this receives steel instead of aluminium pistons, an altered fuel-injection system, a new oil-scavenging process and a 48V gearbox-integrated starter-generator (ISG) – although power and torque outputs remain the same as before, at 282bhp and 479lb ft.
The new mild-hybrid properties are exhibited in the Eco Pro driving mode, including the ability to coast with the engine idling for extended periods under a trailing throttle.
In combination with an 80-litre fuel tank, the reworked engine offers a theoretical range of up to 700 miles – almost twice that of the much pricier electric BMW iX – while the mild-hybrid measures also afford it lower official CO2 emissions than before (if still 37% company car tax).
A number of exterior styling tweaks distinguish the facelifted X5, the headlights, tail-lights, alloy wheels, bumpers and front grille – now optionally with ‘Iconic Glow’ illumination – being redesigned.
All UK-bound cars will get the xLine exterior design as standard; the optional M Sport package adds beefier-looking bumpers, an upgraded 20in wheel-and-tyre package and other sporty touches.
Inside, there’s a new-look dash with a free-standing curved digital panel similar to that in the recently updated X7. This is actually made up of separate 12.3in instrument and 14.9in infotainment screens, which use the latest (8.0) version of BMW’s iDrive operating software.
BMW has also improved the system’s smartphone integration, with 5G connectivity for the car’s embedded eSIM now featuring.
Additionally, the air-conditioning controls within the centre console have moved from dedicated buttons to the touchscreen, while various pieces of trim have gained LED ambient illumination.
There are also higher-grade materials for the dashboard and other parts of the interior, creating a yet more upmarket ambience. Despite retaining the same basic interior architecture, it looks and feels fresher and more luxurious than before.
Heading the list of options are a new head-up display with augmented-reality functionality, a panoramic glass sunroof with LED ambient illumination, glass applications for various controls and a Bowers & Wilkins stereo.
It’s a spacious and comfortable cabin in which to travel, with room for five adults as standard and the option of a third row of seats letting you accommodate up to seven.
The elevated seating position and large expanse of glass help to provide good visibility to all corners – which isn’t something that can be said of some premium SUV rivals.
Boot space remains at 650 litres beneath the cargo blind in five-seat guise, extending to 1870 when the second-row seats are folded down.
The reworked diesel engine runs smoothly and relatively quietly in this less powerful form (it makes 335bhp in the xDrive40d), with good isolation and an eagerness up to middling revs.
There’s plenty of accessible torque, thanks to the new ISG. The electrification measures provide an added 12bhp and up to 148lb ft to the engine’s output, which in turn brings sharper throttle response, greater flexibility to the delivery and liveliness on a loaded throttle.
The 2220kg xDrive30d pulls away with a good deal of urgency in lower gears, settles into an effortless cruise in higher ratios at motorway speeds and is claimed to return between 28.7 and 33.1mpg on the WLTP combined test cycle. It can also boast a towing rating of 3500kg.
The eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox operates in an unobtrusive fashion. The standard xDrive four-wheel drive system also provides the car with outstanding traction and a secure feel in all sorts of weather conditions. As before, there are three different driving modes: Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport.
Preciseness and well-judged weighting characterise the action of the steering, which has been carried over without any significant change. As before, the car can be further imbued with active rear-steering for even more agility and a tighter turning circle.
Steel springing remains standard and air suspension an option, the latter paving the way for an off-road package with varying levels of ride height. The tuning remains much the same as before, but new software now controls the constantly variable properties of the standard electric damping control system.
This provides the X5 with excellent body control over longer-wave undulations and impressive suppression of lean in corners.
Indeed, there’s an engaging touch and an apparent completeness to the car’s dynamics.
The ride on the optional huge 22in wheels sometimes becomes fidgety over high-frequency bumps and cobblestones at lower speeds, owing in part to a lack of sidewall compliance. However, the optional air suspension provides impressive absorption of road shock and wheel control over sharp individual intrusions at speed in its more comfort-orientated settings.
On some models, the steel suspension can be firmed up with optional Sport and Sport Pro packages, the latter of which brings an electrohydraulic anti-roll system for even more resolute handling and body-roll reduction.
The changes BMW has brought to the X5 make it a more desirable proposition than ever before, then, with the xDrive30d (the model that UK buyers have traditionally bought the most) offering a very agreeable combination of performance, refinement, comfort, practicality, cabin space and perceived quality.
Verdict: 4 Stars
Facelift extends appeal of what was already one of the classiest, comfiest and most practical cars in its class
Price £68,165 Engine 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, turbo, diesel, plus ISG Power 282bhp at 4000rpm Torque 479lb ft at 1500-2500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic, 4WD Kerb weight 2220kg 0-62mph 6.1sec Top speed 145mph Economy 28.7-33.1mpg CO2, tax band 215-186g/km, 37% Rivals Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE