New BMW X5 M Competition 2021 review

The range-topping BMW X5 M Competition SUV turns in an impressive performance – but at a price

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    Technically, the BMW X5 M Competition is an impressive performance SUV, but unlike rivals such as the Range Rover Sport SVR, it lacks the sparkle that puts a smile on your face. It’s fast (but far from frugal) and rides relatively well, while it boasts the same level of practicality and technology as other X5s. But when it comes to comfort, refinement and luxury, there’s better value elsewhere in the line-up.

    The BMW X5 is an award winner. It took our Large Premium SUV of the Year title at the 2020 Auto Express New Car Awards, thanks to the luxury and technology it offers. Now it’s our first chance to sample the high-performance X5 M Competition version in the UK.

    Here, we only get the higher-powered Competition version of the X5 M, which boasts a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 616bhp and 750Nm of torque.

    • Fastest SUVs in the world 2020
    • Despite the X5’s hefty 2,310kg kerbweight, that thrust is enough to hurl it from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds, which is thanks in part to the eight-speed automatic gearbox’s launch feature and an M division-tuned xDrive four-wheel-drive system.

      The price for this range-topping X5? £113,045. Everything about this near-five-metre-long SUV is big. But there’s more to it than numbers, because the X5 M is a surprisingly effective performance tool.

      All that mass pushes the performance-focused Michelin tyres into the ground so, combined with good body control from the suspension, there’s a plenty of grip for you to exploit. Just make sure you stay on the right side of optimistic with your cornering speeds though, otherwise the car willvery quickly show its weight.

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      However, the M xDrive system does a great job of disguising it on the way out of corners. On greasy roads at this time of year, the Competition tightens its line on the throttle as the active rear differential comes into play. It makes the car feel quite agile given its size, even if the steering is mute. It’s a nice weight, though.

      The all-wheel-drive tech underpins the performance with massive traction, even in the wet, so the claimed 3.8-second 0-62mph time is entirely believable.

      However, the X5 M doesn’t have as much character as a Range Rover Sport SVR or feel as sharp as a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The engine is mighty and very flexible, but its sound signature isn’t all that charming, even with the sports exhaust engaged. It’s a deep howl, not a V8 rumble, and it’s amplified by noise being piped in through the speakers in Sport mode that sounds a little artificial at higher revs.

      Since the X5 M costs more than six figures, you’d expect plenty of luxury. While the materials inside the X5 are mostly sumptuous, the build quality is sound and the technology some of the best on sale today, there are plenty of elements that are shared with the much cheaper 3 Series and 5 Series models as well as lesser X5s. But this is a problem that BMWs around this price have always suffered from.

      Still, you can’t get away from the fact that BMW’s infotainment system is superb, the cabin is massive and offers plenty of space, and with a 650-litre boot the luggage room on offer is as generous as the interior.

      Ride comfort is acceptable, despite the X5 M Competition’s respectable handling for such a big machine, so there’s not too much of a compromise here. With 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rears the car still smooths out lumpy roads acceptably. Big imperfections do cause the wheels to thump and the wide tyres can be affected by cambers, but on the whole it’s not bad.

      The same can’t be said for efficiency, because with a claimed best of 22.1mpg and 292g/km CO2 emissions, running costs will definitely be proportional to the price.

      If you want a fast, exclusive X5 with a petrol V8 then don’t discount the £25,000 cheaper X5 M50i because it offers 523bhp from a similar engine and 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, but is comfier and offers identical tech, if not quite the same level of exclusivity.

      Model:BMW X5 M Competition
      Engine:4.4-litre V8 twin-turbo
      Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
      0-62mph:3.8 seconds
      Top speed:155mph
      On sale:Now
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