New BMW X5 M Review

Mind-bogglingly fast 4x4 SUV is comfy but expensive

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Fabulous engine
  • Superb handling
  • Tons of technology
  • Ageing styling
  • Small rear seats
  • Can get pricy with options

£97,115 Price range

5 Seats

25 MPG


The BMW X5 M is now the undisputed king of high-performance SUVs – quicker than similar rivals such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Range Rover Sport SVR and Mercedes GLE63.

The X5 M is a combination of sports car performance and luxury SUV practicality and capability. That may sound like a great recipe at first, but it’s never going to drive like a proper sports car.

The exterior styling of the X5 M isn’t in any way devastatingly attractive, although its brutal design is a match for its performance. If you absolutely have to have the fastest and most powerful luxury SUV, then the X5 M is a worthy alternative to the pricier Bentley Bentayga.

It’s an expensive SUV so comes with lots of equipment as standard including sat-nav, adaptive dampers (that let you stiffen the suspension), plus M-specific kit including aggressive exterior styling and unique dials.

If you’re interested to see how the BMW X5 M might fit into your life, remember to check out our handy sizes and dimensions guide.

When you sit inside the X5 M there’s no doubt about the kind of money you must have had to shell out to get this sort of quality and luxury. For most of us, the extended Merino leather upholstery would be more than opulent enough, but you can also choose to upgrade to either full, or BMW individual full Merino leather. But like most options on the X5 M, it doesn’t come cheap.

BMW’s iDrive infotainment interface is now a highly effective piece of kit with a large display that offers some of the clearest graphics of any system out there at the moment. It also incorporates a 20GB hard drive and BMW Connect Drive for accessing the internet, as well as keeping you up-to-date with live traffic reports, music streaming and even a concierge service.

BMW X5 M passenger space

Although it’s easy to dismiss the X5 M as superfluous and unnecessary to a large degree, there’s no getting away from the fact that it is still a very practical vehicle as far as passengers go. Nobody sat inside this behemoth is going to complain about a lack of leg or head room; it is an X5 after all.

The M Sport multi-function front seats may be a £1,495 optional extra, but they’re definitely worth it. Although they may look like a futuristic dentist’s chair, they’re about as comfortable and cosseting as any sport seat you’re liable to come across.

BMW X5 M boot space

Although the boot isn’t as big as you’ll find in the M-Class Mercedes, it’s still going to be more than enough for most people. The X5 M has 650 litres of boot space, which is expandable to 1,870 litres if you fold the back seats down. This is the sort of attribute that starts to build a case for buying the X5 M over a sports car with similar levels of performance. Just try getting five people and their luggage into something like a Jaguar F-Type for example.

You can say everything you want about how practical and family-friendly the X5 M can be if you want, but the whole point of the ‘M’ in the name is to denote performance and handling. If you harbour any negative preconceptions about how well a big SUV can drive and handle, even one as powerful as this, put them aside now.

Although we would never recommend driving with your eyes shut, it could make you believe that you were driving something seriously smaller and lighter than the X5 M if you could. The power of this thing is simply staggering, but that’s a very long way from being the whole story here.

In fact, the X5 M could get away with being a good bit less powerful, simply because few drivers could ever push this thing to anywhere near its limits. The standard X5 already does a great job of defying the laws of physics with the way it handles its size and weight in bends and corners, but the X5 M takes it to another level entirely.

The standard Adaptive M suspension has separate buttons for altering the steering weight, gearbox ferocity and throttle response to allow you to tailor the X5 M’s behaviour to suit the conditions. With everything dialled down, this is a civilised and practical day-to-day vehicle. However, choose the hooligan settings and it’s an entirely different matter entirely.

Putting the engine from the fabulous M5 into a big 4X4 is the sort of thing you might speculate about with your mates down the pub. But BMW has actually gone and done it, and the numbers surrounding the X5 M and its performance are pretty jaw-dropping.

The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V-8 boats an incredible 567hp and 553Ib ft of torque, which propels it from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds. That’s right; it’s not a misprint, 4.2 seconds to get to 60mph from a standing start in a vehicle weighing-in at 2.3-tonnes. That’s less than a quarter of a second slower than a Dodge Challenger Hellcat muscle car with a 707 horsepower, supercharged HEMI V-8.

The X5 M’s rival, the Range Rover Sport SVR, only develops 542hp and 502b ft, while the Porsche Cayenne matches the 553lb ft of torque, but only gives you a relatively meagre 513hp. The BMW’s 0-60 time is three tenths faster than the Porsche and five tenths faster than the Range Rover, but the top speed is lower as it’s electronically-limited to 155mph. However, you have to believe that it would be faster than the pretenders to its crown if the limiter was to be removed.

This engine propels the X5 M along in a way that would grace any of its M Series predecessors, it’s just that it doesn’t look as though it would be as fast as it is.

Although this latest generation of the X5 M is significantly better in terms of fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions than its predecessor, it’s still not great. The combined fuel economy rating for the X5 M is just 25.5mpg, and its CO2 emissions are 258g/km. What that economy figure will translate into in the real world, we’ll leave to your imagination. But if frugal fuel consumption figures are a priority, you certainly wouldn’t be looking at the X5 M in the first place.

Just about every safety feature you can imagine is either standard or available in the X5 M, although it may surprise you that certain features aren’t standard at this price.

The cabin is awash with airbags, and you get all the usual safety systems such as traction control, anti-lock brakes, hill decent control etc. Some of the standard features that are extremely welcome include: active cruise-control with automatic braking, automatic headlights, tyre pressure monitoring, a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights and high-beam assist.

It probably won’t be a shock to hear that the X5 M hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but the X5 has. Even less of a shock is the fact that the X5 has a full five-star safety rating, thanks to the huge amount of active and passive safety features that are either standard or optional.

Add-in the inherent safety of a vehicle as big and tough as this large 4X4, and you have a car that’s probably about as safe as you’re going to get right now.

While the list of standard equipment is indeed impressive, as it should be, you might be surprised at just how much is optional and that certain features don’t come as standard. For example, while the BME Efficient Dynamics features are standard, a rear-view camera and a lane change warning system are options.

The bottom line is that it’s impossible to make much of a case for a monster like this on a monetary basis. It’s big, brash, in-your-face and very expensive, but if you can afford one, you won’t give two hoots about the price ticket or how much it costs to keep it on the road.


If you put the ridiculousness of the BMW X5 M to one side, it’s a truly remarkable example of modern automotive engineering. How something this big and heavy can drive, handle and perform like this is simply astonishing. But no matter how good a performer it is for its size, it still isn’t as much fun to drive as an all-out sports car.

The sad truth is that the vast majority those that buy an X5 M, are unlikely to wring any more performance out of it than they could get from an X5 40d M Sport costing almost half as much.

Despite the fact that the X5 M is a truly great vehicle, it’s not as luxurious, comfortable or good-looking as the Range Rover Sport SVR and it doesn’t drive quite as well as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.