Beemer brings up the rear
Base X5 does without all-wheel-drive but is still plenty of SUV for the money
CHEAPEST is not usually a word you use when describing any BMW, let alone the X5 SUV, but the latest version to lob in Australia certainly is the cheapest X5 to date.
The X5 sDrive25d is not only the first rear-drive X5 but is also the first with a four-cylinder engine, in this case a diesel.
It costs $82,900, which is still a substantial sum, but works out to be good value when you consider how much car you get for the money, the quality of the engine, the amount of gear that comes standard and the fact it has a BMW badge on the nose.
There is also an all-wheeldrive version of the 25d for another $5000, so it should only be selected if the extra traction is going to be required.
The third-generation X5 was released late last year, with the more potent and dearest models leading the way. It looks similar to the last generation car but is essentially all new.
Given the 2070kg it has to hump, a four-cylinder engine initially seems a strange choice. However, engineers can do amazing things with turbo diesels these days and this twinturbo 2.0-litre has sufficient urge to propel the X5 quickly enough for most city and country driving.
If you plan on towing, the V6 turbo diesel 30d, the most popular X5, might be better suited. However, the 25d appears to pull well enough for any school run or trip to the country thanks to its 160kW/450Nm.
Having a quality eight-speed auto as standard also helps. This shifter is so good you simply don’t notice it working away in the background.
Fuel efficiency is excellent, with official figures of 5.8L/100km. Our test car did a respectable 7.7L/100km when pushed on the launch.
The X5 is a five-seater and there is plenty of room in the second row. The optional third row adds $4600. This price includes self-adjusting rear air suspension to best handle the extra weight over the rear end.
There is ample standard gear in the 25d X5, even though it is the cheapest in the range, with all the safety gear you expect, as well as a power rear hatch, a 10inch centre display screen, rearview camera, front and rear sensors, bi-xenon lights, satnav and leather seats.
It has standard 18-inch wheels, which look tiny, shod with run-flat tyres. There is a space-saver spare.
The interior has a quality feel but the dashboard and instruments are too plain and dated for a new car, let alone a luxury model.
The X5 is relatively comfortable to drive but it can get jiggly on imperfect roads, even with the standard wheels and tyres.
It is one of the better large SUVs for handling — but that’s not saying much and it is hardly involving.
But this is really a family bus, a prestige people-mover with SUV space and style. Viewed that way, the 25d is a strong performer, with a good amount of kit at a reasonable price.