The hybrid BMW X5 is not the pick of the bunch

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Are you a BMW or a Mercedes fan? You can’t be both. The motoring world is split between the two – with a little Audiness going on in the background.

I never considered myself old enough to drive a Merc, although I once owned a smashing W123 that was the coolest estate on four wheels. It took me to France and never missed a beat.

But I did have two 3 Series, which were fantastically user-friendly and sporty around the edges. I’d buy another (especially the 335d), which suggests I’m more BM than I might like to admit.

So feeling slightly unsatisfied with the X5 hybrid has rather taken me by surprise. An SUV that looks highly appealing on paper is actually something of a let down in the metal.

Really, it all comes down to the powertrain. Somehow that 2.0 petrol and electic motor combo don’t quite work. It’s not smooth enough, or economical enough to prevent me choosing a diesel version every time.

Shame. I was looking forward to the 4.0e a lot.

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Hamster horror in the BMW X5

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In days of old, when windows opened with a funny little handle in the door and intermittent windscreen wipers were but a dream, rain could be a bloody nuisance.

Wipers needed replacing all the time and would often shred themselves when confronted by anything bigger than a large fly. Replacing blades involved cut fingers and much cursing.

The X5 has wipers that doe everything, as you might expect for £56k. Surprisingly, they also have the X Factor – the uncanny ability to impersonate a hamster.

It’s been raining all weekend in the Shire and every drive has been accompanied by ‘squeaky hamster’ wipers. This was amusing at first, almost comical, then frustrating, and now I’m ready to rip the wipers off at the next available opportunity.

Got an enetrtaining set of windscreen wipers – let us know what yours sound like…

Chips with everything – just not the BMW X5 hybrid

 

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Incredible how carrying a heavy load can affect mpg. Yesterday I loaded the X5 with 300kg of wood chips for my burner – the best I could achieve was 23mpg.

That’s quite a lot of chips but considering this hybrid Beemer is meant to top out at 85.6mpg, I was unpleasantly surprised.

The 111bhp electric motor was no use in this situation, the X5 was suddenly too heavy for anything but the 2.0-litre petrol engine which had to kick in – and it struggled.

Minus the wood chips, the X5 is a smooth and elegant drive. Power take-up can snatch under harsh acceleration and it also eats into the stored battery power.

So far I’ve experienced nothing in this car to tempt me away from the diesel…

Has the BMW X5 come of age – or is it now just another soft-roader?

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The BMW X5 was something special at launch in 1999. We’d never had a SUV that was quite so exciting to drive – it was cool. Then BMW couldn’t decide if it was a sports car, or an off-road multi-purpose family-mobile thing and, perhaps not surprisingly, it all went a bit Pete Tong.

The current X5 is supposed to be the best of both worlds – not quite a Land Rover Discovery for practicality, not as entertaining as a Porsche Macan but a very good compromise all the same.

And then we have the hybrid version. It’s not a 4.0-litre diesel as the name suggests but a 2.0 petrol with four cylinders, plus a 111bhp electric motor that when combined churns out 309bhp.

The problem is, the 3.0 diesel X5 is cheaper and offers exceptional real-world economy already. What does the heavier ‘e’ add – apart from a chance to drive through town in complete silence (well, for the max range of 25 electric miles, at least)?

Join us over the next seven days to find out…