From July 2008 issue

THIS IS the second generation of BMW’s big 4×4, the X5, and it’s even better than the first. That car was great to drive, but not as practical as the likes of the Land Rover Discovery. This X5 is even better from the driver’s seat but makes a more suitable car for large families.

You can now choose to have seven seats rather than five. There’s not as much space in the rearmost seats as in a Discovery, but they’re okay for children or short trips. It’s a different story for passengers in the middle row, who have plenty of room to stretch out. The driver and front-seat passenger have lots of space, too.

BMW’s sell on driver appeal more than leg and headroom, though, and on that score the X5 doesn’t disappoint. It’s exceptionally agile for a car with a kerbweight of well over two tonnes, and corners with little roll and unyielding grip.

Hitch up a caravan, even a large one like the Abbey Expression 620 (MTPLM: 1655kg), and the X5 tows with great poise. The big BMW mastered the caravan through the lane-change test in a way few large 4x4s ever do. Even on high-speed runs the tourer followed along behind like an obedient pet.

Head for the hills and the X5 won’t be found short of power. With 232bhp and 384lb.ft of torque, it can easily hold the legal limit, even on steep motorway inclines. The 30-60mph sprint time of 10.8 seconds is one of the quickest we have recorded.

The X5’s price is steep, but excellent fuel economy for such a fast, heavy car and strong resale values are some compensation.

We say
Towing: 5/5
Solo: 5/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 5/5 – Quick, stable and an excellent towcar. Practical, too.

List price when tested: £41,880
Kerbweight: 2150kg
85% match: 1828kg
Max towing weight: 2700kg
Towball limit: 120kg
30-60mph: 10.8seconds
30-0mph: 10.7m

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