The V8 is a superb all-rounder, but the diesel pulls equally strongly and is the more cost-effective solution. Prices for the X3 are close to X5’s, so the next generation – on sale from 2006 – will push X5 further upmarket.
X5 – BMW’s first off-roader – was launched in October 2000 with a choice of 3.0i or 4.4 V8i engines. 3.0d turbo-diesel was added in August 2001 and the 4.6is arrived in February 2002. All have self-levelling suspension, alloy wheels, park distance control, cruise control, remote central locking, electric heated door mirrors.
Although other carmakers have launched against X5, it still offers one of the best SUV drives around. It delivers comfort, precision, minimal bodyroll and even off-road competence. It’s quick on the motorway, but light and agile around town.
An endlessly adjustable driving position makes sure any driver can get comfy. Interior quality is exceptional, borrowing heavily from the previous 5-series. There is plenty of room in the back for three passengers, who will appreciate the lack of body roll, but when larger wheels are fitted, ride is a little harsher on rougher roads at speed.
All are strong performers. The 3.0-litre diesel offers torque and reasonable economy while the two V8s can get to 60mph in 7.5 and 6.5 seconds – that’s hot hatch territory.
About as safe as they get whether you crash or avoid an accident in the first place. Full marks in Euro NCAP crash test, eight airbags and electronic chassis controls that will even stabilise anything being towed.
On the forecourt
Fast movers 3.0d Auto
New prices are similar to the 3.0i, but the 3.0d commands a used premium. 00X-0454: £24,400-£-£37,500
Models with sat nav
No one wants a luxury car without luxuries, those without them suffer £750 premium
Ones to avoid
Buyers of top-end high-powered cars don’t expect to change gear themselves.
In the workshop
Electrical gremlins on early cars, otherwise no problems.
Parker's buyers' lines
"Compare depreciation of a one-year-old X5 and a brand new Mondeo and you've got value."
You can't expect to own one and not be pigeon-holed with some sort of public perception... from businessman to celebrity footballer