About two decades ago, the world was witnessing the dawn of a new kind of motor car – the Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV. At that time, no one had imagined the kind of popularity that this new type of vehicle would amass in just 20 years.
At the very start of this revolution, there was one vehicle that proved to be the driving force behind the popularity of SUVs – and that was the first-gen BMW X5. Much before the Porsche Cayenne made its debut on the world stage, it was the X5 that justified the ‘Sport’ in the acronym for ‘Sports Utility Vehicle.’
20 years later, and well into its fourth generation now, the X5 continues to be the benchmark in terms of driving appeal and offering a car-like driving experience – a characteristic that’s made it a sales hit across the world.
So, naturally, I had very high hopes for the X5 in our test. You see, with its monocoque chassis, excellent dynamics, and an engine & gearbox that respond almost magically to your commands, the X5 is one hell of a driving tool – despite its size and weight.
The all-wheel-drive traction, wide track, and the sublime throttle response from its 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine, producing 261bhp and 620Nm of torque – the key to its instant throttle response is the fact that peak torque arrives at 1,500rpm, just above idle – means that the X5 achieved an extremely solid lap time of 1:11.9. In fact, it was the sixth-fastest car in our test, which is amazing for a full-size, diesel-powered SUV.
I think, ultimately, the real competition for the top 5 cars in this year’s test boiled down to a fight between the X5, a couple of Mercs, and the BMW 3 Series sedan. And, despite my expectation for the X5 to finish in the top 5, the 3 Series beat out its larger sibling thanks to its faster lap time and a better value proposition.
Honestly, though, this test has reaffirmed my faith in the X5 even further. And if you’re in the market for a full-size SUV, which can be used in virtually all conditions, the X5 still stands taller than any of its competitors.
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