BMW X5 2024 long-term test

BMW X5 longterm goodbye   front lead image
BMW X5 longterm goodbye front lead image

Why we ran it: To find out if this revised plug-in hybrid luxury SUV could offer the best of both

Month 1 - Month 2 - Month 3 - Final reportSpecs

Life with a BMW X5: Final report

Every time I see a jumbo jet take off I get a disconcerting sense that there is some kind of fault in the fabric of the universe. Something that big, that heavy, that lumbering on the ground should never be able to get airborne, let alone look so elegant once it gets there.

You get a similar sensation on a country lane in this X5. Laden with all its hybrid technology, the BMW weighs 5kg shy of two and a half tonnes before you've even sat in it, yet its willingness to go, stop and change direction comes as a shock every time, no matter how often you've already experienced it.


With Sport mode engaged, it sits lower on its air suspension, the petrol engine is awakened to run in parallel with the electric motor, and the performance is simply outrageous as a combined 483bhp punches it from rest to 62mph in less than 5sec, accompanied by an addictive growl as you flick through the eight speeds of the auto 'box with the wheel-mounted paddles.

Yet it's in the mid-range when it's really impressive, dispatching slower cars on short straights, then shedding speed with its massive brakes (uprated M Sport items with blue calipers on my car, part of the £2100 M Sport Pro Pack) and diving in to the next corner.

With vast grip, there's no understeer unless you pitch it in far too quickly, the steering is beautifully weighted (if a touch low-geared), and if you get on the power early on the way out, there is even a little twitch from the back end as the 516lb ft of torque reveals its rearward bias.

In short, the X5 drives like a proper BMW should, yet a cross-country hoon is only scratching the surface of this car's abilities.

Editor Tisshaw made the valid point that if long continental journeys are your stock-in-trade, then this plug-in hybrid drivetrain is not ideal, but if, like me, your life is a blend of short, slogging town commutes during the week and longer weekend trips, it makes a huge amount of sense - albeit perhaps not entirely justifying the hefty premium over the superb diesel.

BMW claims 58-69 miles of pure-electric range. I never managed to match even the lower figure, but 45-plus miles is easily achievable without trying to be frugal and that proved enough for most daily duties in the week, with an overnight charge. And with the uprated 50e, performance remains peppy even in pure EV mode, with up to 87mph possible before the straight-six engine chimes in - with a split second's delay if you call for it via the throttle pedal.

That makes it a more than competent BEV under commuting conditions, although the average shown in our test figures also includes coasting and maintaining motorway speeds: stick it in battery-only mode around town and that figure drops to a little over 2mpkWh, again largely due to the X5's heft. Which means if you are expecting it to be cheap to run, think again. Any saving at the pumps will be reflected in your electricity bill.

Opting for the hybrid drivetrain precludes a seven-seat option because of the batteries in the boot, but so long as you have only four passengers to carry, this is still a phenomenal family wagon particularly with my car's £4300 Comfort Plus Pack, which gives rear passengers heated seats, rear blinds and four-zone climate control (plus a cosseting set of massage chairs for those in the front). Few cars deliver you feeling quite so refreshed after a long drive, even if the always firm suspension majors on supple suppression of road imperfections rather than a floating waft.

At 500 litres, the boot doesn't sound huge, but in practice its square shape is superbly practical, the rear seats drop to give a vast 1720-litre capacity and touches such as the split tailgate and the ability to lower the rear suspension to ease access are really useful.

The only complaint here is that there are no releases for the rear backrests in the boot, something you expect to find on an SUV at this price point.

Other gripes include heated seats that don't automatically turn off to conserve power when the front and rear passenger seats are vacated, and the occasional, unexpected quality drop: a centre console that flexes to the touch is not ideal in a near-£100,000 car.


But I had to try quite hard to get annoyed with the X5, which is even genuinely handsome - surely one of the last modern-era BMWs to be able to make that claim. Add it all together and I'm not sure there is a better luxury SUV on sale.

There are more opulent ones, certainly - particularly if you are willing to pay double the price or more.

There are more comfortable ones too, and probably some that will be faster down a favourite B-road. But I can't think of any that offer the X5's breadth of talents, particularly with the addition of silent, electric-only running around town. There's nothing sweet about the sorrow of this parting.

Second Opinion

It’s easy to get lost in the world of German premium SUVs, given there are so many and generally the breed is not outstanding. Yet the X5 is an honourable exception, almost Range Rover-like in its seat comfort, driving position and easy-going nature.

Mark Tisshaw

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Love it:

Raw six appeal The day the law kills off the BMW straight six will be a dark one. It’s sweet-revving, sonorous, torquey

Practically perfect As well as being luxurious and great to drive, it’s vastly spacious. Yes, I really did fit all of these crates in it.

Putting the stoppers on Brakes on hybrids often feel odd but the X5 balances the needs of energy harvest with excellent pedal feel.

Loathe it:

One step at a time The sequential indicators don’t time perfectly with their simulated sound, if such things matter to you.

Seat of the pants Cream leather looks wonderfully opulent, but unless you clean it regularly, it swiftly looks grubby.

Final mileage: 5458

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Life with a BMW X5: Month 3

Clever tyres and great dealer service equal a very speedy puncture remedy - 27 March

You can't buy a car costing near-as-dammit £100,000 and expect it to be cheap to run, and that point was brought home to me rather vividly recently.

After editor Tisshaw's epic European trip, on a chilly evening 1 was looking forward to returning to the comforting embrace of the X5's remarkable armchair and the warmth of it, the armrests and the wheel.

But when I hopped in the car late that evening and turned on the ignition, a tyre pressure warning light came on, accompanied by the inevitable bong.

BMW continues to persist with run-flat tyres, so you really can't tell how low they are from the outside, but fortunately one of the X5's many data screens will tell you exactly how much pressure there is at each corner.

The driver's side rear was down to 7psi, a long way off where it should have been - 35psi and too low to risk a run home, so I decided to find alternative transport and sort it out the following day.

Needing to have the car back as soon as possible, - decided to book it in with my local dealer, Berry BMW of Thames Ditton, via its website. The job was easily done and I immediately received a confirmation of my booking.

Then within half an hour I got a call from senior service advisor Shirin Shah to talk through the issue. He initially recommended getting the X5 recovered to the dealership to avoid damaging the alloys by driving it there - until I pointed out that it was on the sixth floor of a multi-storey car park.

So he quickly made some enquiries and discovered that he wouldn't be able to get a new 315/35 R21 Pirelli P Zero for 48 hours - notideal when I was due to leave for a week away the following day.

When I explained that, he asked me to bear with him and five minutes later called back to say he had booked me in at the nearest Kwik Fit to the stranded car (less than a mile away) and that they would be able to get the correct tyre delivered by that afternoon. Fantastic service.

Fortunately, I had my trusty little Clarke rechargeable compressor with me, so I left that running on the affected tyre for 20 minutes to get it up to some semblance of pressure, then very gently drove down through the multi-storey and across to the tyre shop, trusting in the run-flat technology.

I'm relieved to say it got there with no damage at all to the lovely (and hugely costly) diamond-cut alloy, but there was a weird clonking sensation as if there was a piece of wood attached to the tyre via a nail or screw I did stop to check, but there was no sign of anything protruding from the wheel).

The source of that discomfort became clear as soon as the car was on the ramps and the tyre had been removed from the rim: a long, plastic-sheathed piece of metal - our best guess was the shaft of an insulated screwdriver - had impaled my Pirellis carcass, causing the deflation and the subsequent lumpy ride because it was tough enough to withstand the pressure of 2495kg of BMW SUV without deforming.

The fitter seemed entirely unperturbed, having seen it all before, and while I waited, he regaled me with extreme stories - such as one customer who had managed to puncture a tyre with their own car key.

I'm still trying to work out how that's even possible. The main trouble with run-flats, of course, is that once they've been punctured, they're usually scrap - and so it proved in this case.

This meant that I was soon £432.99 lighter (including VAT and fitting), but bearing in mind that it had been just a few hours between reporting the problem and driving the car out of the Kwik Fit workshop, I was finding it hard to complain.

Love it

Back to front

My kids adore the rear, with its heated seats, individual climate controls, blinds, cupholders, charging ports – and loads of room.

Loathe it

Future shocker

I get that it’s a plug-in hybrid, but when it’s running on petrol power, why can’t I just have proper instruments? I miss rev counters.

Mileage: 4983

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Plug-in hybrid SUV is put to the test with 1361 European business miles in just five days - 13 March

If any holiday destination is more than a five-hour drive from Calais, we catch a flight.

Yet I'm not long back from five days on the road in which I could have driven from my home in Berkshire down to Italy's Amalfi coast (where I have fond memories of arriving by plane and spending a week driving a Fiat 500C) and still had enough miles to drive back up to Naples (but perhaps not into the city itself, as that's the single scariest place I've ever driven).

All this driving wasn't for a cheery, sunny holiday, sadly, but pure business: 1361 miles in the depths of winter. It was a strange trip, uneventful and unglamorous.

The destinations appear quite random: from one side of Paris to another via northern France and then from the south-west of Paris to Manchester before finally heading home late on Thursday evening.

There was a mesmerising number of motorway miles, many trips to fuel stations and lots of coffees washing down different types of meat and cheese in often-stale bread.

There was plenty of time to play with the massaging seats and feel smug about finally working out how to play sports commentaries from back home through apps on Apple CarPlay. There was no fatigue and no boredom, thanks to the qualities of our BMW X5 long-termer.

To address the elephant in the room straight away: yes, we have the Drive50e plugin hybrid version of the X5. A worse type of powertrain for such a journey would be hard to find, given I was doing big miles at motorway speeds with no real opportunity to charge up the battery, the smaller petrol tank and all that extra needless weight. The final indicated figure was 26.1mpg, in case you were wondering.

All this made me recall those days of early Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV tax-busters being handed back at the end of their finance deals with their charging cables still in their plastic wrappers.

However, I won't focus too much on the drivetrain, because the journey instead allowed me a chance to really get to know the X5 itself- and trust me, with that many miles in such a short space of time, you really do get to know a car.

The pictures that accompany this report probably give you an indication of both the bleakness of large parts of the drive, dominated as they were by motorways, service stations and car parks, and indeed how specific some of the features of the X5 that I grew to like were.

It turns out that my new phone also allows me to finally take photos at night, too. Look at those pretty and not at all distracting interior lights (left) to put a bit of sparkle on the page...

A stop-off at Le Touquet en route provided a rare bit of respite for the adaptive cruise control - a must-have if you're driving long distances across France. I rarely ever use cruise control in the UK outside of average speed camera zones, because there's always some plonker sitting in the middle lane, making everyone do four lane changes to get around them, and the system then feels as frustrated by it as I am.