Beemer brings up the rear

Base X5 does with­out all-wheel-drive but is still plenty of SUV for the money

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@cars­

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.

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