And it was quizzing those annual buyers that set the template for the mid-life facelift of the luxury five or seven-seat SUV. What did they want? Plenty more, it seems, of the same…
Thus, the new X5 looks almost exactly like the old one. There are no metalwork changes, no dramatic new grilles, not even radically resculpted headlights. Nope, it’s modified bumpers front and rear, changed headlight lenses and the odd new metallic colour.
Inside, there’s still less to note: without turning on the ignition, you won’t even spot the new-for-2010 sat nav and iDrive set-up. Discreet? That would be an understatement.
It’s not a BMW cop-out, though. See, with this ‘Life Cycle Impulse’, plenty more has been happening below the surface. All the engines are new. The automatic gearbox is new. The suspension has been revised. A whole host of technical features have been added on. Appearances sure can be deceptive: The 2010 X5 is well worth a closer look.
The key focus is on diesel. BMW dealers sell 95 per cent oil-burning X5s, with four in five of those being the xDrive30d variant. This gets a sprightly new engine, now with a healthy 245bhp for 60mph in a vibrant 7.6 seconds. It can do 130mph if you choose the SE; the M Sport, with higher-rated tyres, pushes on to 138mph. It is not slow.
Nor inefficient. The new xDrive30d averages 38.2mpg and has CO2 emissions of just 195g/km. There has not yet been a non-hybrid model in the UK with such low emissions, which is why the X5 jumps straight to the top of the class here. BMW dealers with tax-conscious buyers will find this a big boost.
That’s not the fastest diesel, though. The speed honours are held by the xDrive40d, whose twin-turbo six-cylinder engine shoots it to 60mph in just 6.6 seconds. Pretty impressive. That’s what 306bhp can do for you – yet, despite this, the model can still average an implausible 37.7mpg. Even this doesn’t top the 200g/km CO2 mark, either. Like its xDrive30d counterpart, it is Euro 5 compliant as well.
On the road, this engine is superb. The new eight-speed automatic ensures it is always in the right gear (not that you notice it shifting ratios), while eye-opening low-down torque provides near-instantaneous shove to the throttle. It is a large, heavy SUV that still responds with speed, even at low revs.
Fittingly, BMW has revised the handling so it is sportier, too. The firm has transferred the X5 M version’s electronic settings in the four-wheel drive system. This means it has a racier feel in corners, with more power being sent rearwards for sports car-like sensations (yes, really). It can be chucked around like a machine half the weight and height.
Dealer feedback to BMW means the steering is now better as well. Standard Servotronic assistance makes it lighter at parking speeds, in response to customer complaints. And the optional Active Steering settings have also been changed so it’s more natural.
Standard on all X5s is leather and Xenon headlights (which now have distinctive daytime running lights, to help mark the 2010 model out). Prices have risen, with the range starting at £43,795 for the xDrive30d, but BMW still reckons it is better value. The only questionable buy is the niche xDrive50i V8 petrol.
Overall, it’s hard to knock BMW’s approach with the X5 facelift throughout. Some faces are better left as they are; if you can make what’s beneath the surface better too, then that’s all to the good…
by RICHARD AUCOCK