A history lesson…
Who’d of thought BMW would have made so much money off the X5? When they launched their first ever 4x4, it was a main rival for the incredible Range Rover, but few would have predicted it would have sold like it did, after all; it was awful off-road. But that was the beauty of the X5; it never really pretended to be an off-roader. It was the first ‘Chelsea Tractor’ that was designed purely to look cool and give you a high driving position.
The X5 has been going for over a decade now, and it’s still selling. Now in its second variation, the newer X5 is probably a little too fat and a bit too Chelsea-ish, but if you’re after a bargain second hand one, the MK1 is an excellent choice.
There’s an X5 for everyone; from diesels to top-of-the-range twin turbos, the X5 really is one of the true cult icons of the 21st century.
Bang for your buck
Really, the X5 is a brilliant 4x4 buy, because they sold so many of them. The prices have come down a lot, and what you’ll pay for a used one today, really makes them attractive. You get pretty much everything you’d expect from a luxury 4x4: traction control, cruise control, ABS, airbags, a great stereo, leather, wood and plenty of space. The X5, in any guise, is packed to the rafters!
The boot is spacious, as is rear-leg room, and the driver will be comfortable, as the seats are not only supportive but comfortable, too. The dash can look a little dated in earlier cars, but if you do go a 1999 or 2000 model, remember, you’re saving a fortune!
What you’ll pay
Depending upon which model you opt for, the BMW X5 can be a great buy. Diesel models hold their value considerably better than its petrol counter-part, so if you are concerned about re-sale value, get a diesel. 3.0si petrols can be had for under £20,000, while the big V8s can be bought for just over that figure.
Be careful if you buy the X5 M, as this car is not only unbelievably powerful, but heavy on fuel and insurance, too.
What to check
Earlier 1999 models are well over a decade old now, so it’s best to have those thoroughly checked, but with the rest of the models, it’s pretty much plain sailing. The X5 is a very reliable car, as are all of the engines. Basic checks of alloy wheel condition, leather and wood are crucial, as they would be a fortune to replace or repair.
Replacement clutches are around £150 for an X5, which is expensive but main dealer prices always are. Front brake pads retail at about £50 and an alternator is roughly £250.
Obviously, most MK2 X5s will still be under warranty, so pick whichever X5 suits your needs best.
How it drives
Now this is what a BMW X5 is all about. The driving experience is second to none. Yes, the Range Rover is by far and away the best 4x4 luxury car out there, but it can’t hold a candle to the X5 on the road. It literally drives like a car. And while that may not be the most obvious compliment, it really should be taken as one. Chucking it into bends, it just sticks and there’s hardly any body-roll. It’s impressive.
Opting for the X5 M and you’ll end up with an absolute monster on your hands. The X5 M is BMW’s M-Division’s dig at making a powerful X5, and by God, did they succeed! It’ll take on most hot hatches and a few 911s, but just be careful with the insurance prices, because they can be biblical.
The kids will love an X5 because it’s so big and roomy, and your partner will love it because it’s luxurious and comfortable. Really, it’s the perfect 4x4 for modern Britain; just make sure you pretend it’s a diesel – if you go for a petrol – or Greenpeace will be on your back.