….and we’re still confused if he gives it thumbs up or down, but that’s somewhat expected. Despite the mixed review (at least we think it was mixed), Clarkson brings up some positive points as well as negative ones, one of the less pleasant ones being the first M-powered X5 and X6 to go to market when things aren’t so dandy for the automotive industry and not only.
Let’s have a look, shall we?
BMW’s Motorsport division has been busy creating the first ever M-powered X5. We must take this seriously because BMW’s M cars are almost always a cut above. The M5 is biblically good and the current M3, divine. It’s a full five seconds faster round the Ascari track than Merc’s 6.2-litre C-class and Audi’s RS4.
Thumbs up no. 1
The X5 M pulls off a similar trick. There is simply no other big SUV that goes, steers, stops or turns even half as well as this. You can fling it into bends and while the traction control is already ready to step in and stop you having too much fun and games, you can get the back to step out of line and sit there, in a controlled slide, just like you can with an M5 saloon.
Or maybe not?
Actually, I’m being silly. It’s nothing like an M5. An M5 is 5,000 times better in the bends because it’s lower and therefore has the laws of physics on its side. The X5 M is good for an SUV, and that’s it.
But here comes a real Thumbs up (No 2. if we count the previous one):
The best thing, though, is the complete absence of turbo lag. When turbos first came onto the scene — in a BMW incidentally, unless you are an American, in which case you will claim it was on a Chevrolet — there was always a pause from the moment you put your foot down to the moment anything happened.
Thumbs down? But really, isn’t an M car supposed to feel that way? A bit rougher at the edges?
There are, of course, a few downsides to its new-found sharpness. Like it’s fitted with fat tyres that render the car utterly useless in a field and are fairly hopeless everywhere else too. On a bumpy B road, the ride is so firm, you find yourself hanging on to the steering wheel just to stop yourself being bounced out of the seat. It’s not good enough, this. Not by a long way.
Thumbs down no…? Well, not really in our opinion. Seriously, does one expect ultimate interior luxury in the Ultimate Driving Machine, an M car made for the road not for carrying executives around….?
Nor is the interior, which is just about all right on a £40,000 diesel. But is emphatically not all right on a £78,000 heavyweight ballet dancer.
Thumbs down again…Well, call us fanboys, but this one makes no sense. The latest generation iDrive is quite fine.
And then there are the problems that blight its lesser brothers and sisters. Chief among these problems is the iDrive system, which offers up a wide range of driver options, none of which makes any sense. I did quite like the head-up display, though. Because when you are that high above the road, you really do feel like you’re in a low-flying jet.
Here comes the slam….Seriously? What about the people that want all-wheel drive and still the power of an M. Mind you, money is no objection here.
That said, I don’t really think the X5 M makes much sense except on a track, where it doesn’t make half as much sense as the cheaper, better M5, which, incidentally, comes with just as many seats.
And here is the conclusion:
Like the original, it’s clever from a technical standpoint but times have to be good for a car like this to make sense. And they aren’t. So it doesn’t. If you need a tall off-road car, buy a Range Rover diesel. If you need a five-seater that is fun, buy an M5. Don’t try to buy something that combines both things because what the X5 M proves is that really, it can’t be done.
Well, we guess it wasn’t so mixed after all and didn’t expect any less from Sir Clarkson. We so look forward to his BMW X6 ActiveHybrid test drive……