BMW X5 M SUV (2015-2019)
“The BMW X5 M is just as practical as the regular SUV, but offers huge performance if you can afford its running costs”
- Practical interior
- Incredibly fast
- Handles well
- Poor fuel economy
- No seven-seat option
- Slightly dated dashboard
The power race hasn’t been restricted to saloon cars and supercars; SUVs like the BMW X5 M have been getting faster, too. In horsepower terms, the BMW is a top contender, with an incredible 567bhp from its twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre petrol V8, a higher figure than the Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
This gets the X5 M from 0-62mph in a scant 4.2 seconds – faster than most sports cars, yet the rest of the time the BMW SUV is comfortable and practical, just like the standard model. Of course, running costs are higher, with fuel consumption of just 25mpg, road tax costing £450 annually and the X5 M in the top 37% Benefit-in-Kind band for company-car drivers.
Costing from over £90,000, the X5 M will also set you back more than double the price of an entry-level X5, but comes with a huge amount of equipment. Not only does the X5 M look different thanks to its body styling kit, it has 20-inch alloy wheels, huge brakes and lowered adaptive suspension. There are LED adaptive headlights and the technology continues inside, with a head-up display and a connected infotainment system, while luxury is taken care of with Merino leather upholstery.
Out on the road, the X5 M uses a conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox for smoother shifts than the dual-clutch version found in the BMW M3 and BMW M4 sports saloon and coupe. This makes it feel more like an SUV, but there’s nothing 4x4-like about its acceleration, or the noise from its quad exhaust system.
Even the standard X5 is one of the best SUVs to buy if you want sporty handling, and the M model is even more impressive. The steering is sharp and huge tyres offer unbelievable grip, but firm suspension also means more bumps will be felt inside.
The BMW X5 didn’t appear in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, so reliability could be a concern. The BMW brand itself finished a mid-table 15th out of 32 manufacturers.
MPG, running costs & CO2
If you keep a spreadsheet of running costs for your car, the X5 M probably isn’t the vehicle for you. BMW claims fuel economy of 25.4mpg, but you’ll have to drive gently even to get this figure, while CO2 emissions are 258g/km. Still, this actually beats the Range Rover Sport SVR, which returns 22.1mpg and emits 298g/km, while the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S sits in the middle, with 24.6mpg and 267g/km of CO2.
In reality, all three cost the same £450 a year in road tax (for the first five years of ownership) and sit in the most expensive 37% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band, making them a costly choice for company-car drivers.
As an alternative, the BMW X5 M50d has a powerful diesel engine that makes it almost as fast as the X5 M, yet it returns almost 43mpg and sits in the 34% BiK band.
Unsurprisingly, the BMW X5 M sits in top insurance group 50, so finding affordable cover could be tricky. We wouldn’t expect servicing a car as complicated as the X5 M to be cheap, but at least you can budget for it if you take out the BMW Service Inclusive pack, which covers servicing for three years/36,000 miles for £999.
The BMW comes with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which is similar to that offered by Range Rover, but beats Porsche with its two-year/unlimited-mileage offer.
Engines, drive & performance
If money isn’t an object, there are very few faster SUVs than the X5 M. Its 4.4-litre V8 with twin turbochargers is straight out of performance models like the BMW M6, but actually has more power, with 567bhp. That’s enough to get this two-tonne SUV from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155mph, while it emits a noise you don’t expect from a 4x4.
Its closest rivals are tightly packed, with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S just beating the X5 M with its 4.1-second 0-62mph time, while the Range Rover SVR takes 4.7 seconds. Adaptive suspension and upgraded brakes help the X5 M feel confidence-inspiring, despite the huge amount of power on offer, while massive tyres provide plenty of grip. The steering is very responsive and there’s almost no body lean in corners, but the ride is also less comfortable than you’ll experience in a standard X5.
Interior & comfort
BMW has given the X5 M its own trim level and thrown almost every gadget and upgrade at it – as you’d expect when paying over £90,000. Merino leather covers not only the seats, but also parts of the cabin, and there are signs everywhere this is an M vehicle. From the door sills, to the sports gauges, steering wheel and black headliner, you’ll be left in no doubt this is the top-spec version of the X5.
If you want a fast car, but enjoy sitting higher up, the raised seating position could be ideal, with plenty of adjustment to get comfortable. The dashboard is well finished and easy to understand, but it’s starting to feel just slightly dated compared to the latest models from Audi and Land Rover, which have digital instruments. Still, some people prefer analogue gauges, and the iDrive infotainment system is one of the best, with clear sat nav.
There really is too much equipment to list, but highlights include a head-up display that projects information onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, internet services for the infotainment system with traffic updates, cruise control, DAB radio, Harman Kardon speakers, sat nav, adaptive LED headlights and a 20GB hard drive for storing music. You can also use BMW's 'remote services' to lock and unlock your car using a smartphone app, flash its headlights or set the ventilation from afar.
Despite this impressive kit you get as standard, don’t underestimate the options still available, with the possibility of extending the leather further into the cabin for around £3,700, night vision with pedestrian recognition for £1,750, a panoramic sunroof costing £1,295, Apple CarPlay preparation for £235 and heater to warm up the cabin remotely for £1,130. A Cold Weather pack adds a heated steering wheel and rear seats for £475.
There are some safety features worth considering, too, like a space-saver spare wheel for £150 and lane-departure warning system for £500.
Practicality & boot space
One of the advantages of buying a high-performance SUV is that it’s just as spacious as the standard version, with plenty of head and kneeroom for five occupants. Its boot measures the same 650 litres behind the rear seats, or a huge 1,870 litres with them folded down, and the tailgate provides a large opening and low loading lip. There are a couple of caveats, however, as the X5 M is the only version in the range that can’t be upgraded from five to seven seats. And while the X5 isn’t really known for its off-roading, most SUVs are at least great at mounting kerbs or heading into the occasional field, but you’ll need to be careful with the X5 M and its 20-inch alloy wheels with low-profile sports tyres.
Reliability & safety
With the BMW X5 failing to appear in the top 150 models in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, or the top 200 in 2015, reliability is a bit of an unknown. BMW as a brand came a middling 15th out of 32 manufacturers, with a disappointing 21st-place for reliability, but ninth overall for build quality.
It’s a similar story for safety, with the X5 never crash-tested by Euro NCAP. With an impressive amount of safety kit and BMW’s track record for producing five-star-rated models, we’re confident the X5 M would be very safe in a collision. Standard safety kit includes numerous airbags and autonomous emergency braking, which can apply the brakes if an imminent collision is detected.
Price, value for money & options
For the average customer, paying more than double the price of the entry-level X5 for a faster version will probably seem crazy, but X5 M buyers are likely to have quite a few other cars in the garage already. Compared to rivals, the BMW is actually cheaper than the Range Rover SVR and much cheaper than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, which costs over £120,000. This and the fact you can go for fixed-price servicing could even make the X5 M seem like a good deal if you’re in the market for one of the world’s fastest SUVs.