When it came to learning how to build a decent 4X4, German car-giant BMW made very good use of its stewardship during the 1990s of Britain’s Rover Group.
It allowed bosses at the ambitious and rapidly expanding Munich-based manufacturer direct access to Land Rover and Ranger Rover’s world-beating off-road technology, giving the Munich car-makers a useful head-start when developing their own rival BMW badged 4X4 range.
So by the time in 2000 BMW had sold-off the bulk of loss-making Rover – but cannily holding on to Mini – for a token £10 to the subsequently disgraced Phoenix Four consortium – until its collapse in April 2000, BMW had already embarked on developing its own family of upmarket Bavarian bimmer off-roaders, kick-starting what became the then new ‘sports utility’ market.
However, in truth it’ll be more at home at ‘Harvey Nicks’ and Harrods than scaling the Himalayas
Computer-control of systems is key, with the new X5 using BMW’s ‘Operating System 7.0’ to oversee all manner of hi-tech features, including the instrument cluster, control display and head-up display.
The traditional round instrument panels have been ‘opened up’ so you can get more information onto the digital screens. There’s also more flexibility to create your own ‘menu’.
On display, but undriven on this trip and to follow petrol and diesel versions into showrooms, was a plug-in electric hybrid version of the X5, with the charging point clearly visible.
Powered by a 3.0-litre petrol engine linked to an 82kW battery powered electric motor to develop a total 394bhp, the X5 xDrive45e iPerformance has a range of 50 miles at speeds of up to 87mph in electric power only (146 mph maximum hybrid) , and accelerates from rest to 62mph in 5.6 seconds with average CO2 emissions of just 49g/km and claimed 134mpg fuel economy.