Believe it or not, it’s a quarter of a century since people started grumbling about how SUVs had started to feel like hatchbacks.Well, they didn’t say ’SUVs’ back then, as the term hadn’t been invented, but when
the original Toyota RAV4 came to Britain we said it reminded us more of something like a Golf GTi than a proper 4×4.

Now, the RAV4 feels like a big wagon and there’s a whole slew
of vehicles blurring the distinction between hatchback and 4×4 more effectively than ever.The BMW X2 is one of the latest, and it’s one of the most hatch-like yet. It’s a 4×4, but it makes the original X5 look like a tractor.

We’ve got the 20d model here, with all four wheels being driven by an automatic box. We climbed aboard shortly after driving a Jaguar E-Pace, which itself is not what you’d call an old-school mud- plugger, and the feeling of having descended into full-on hatchback territory was immediate and very obvious. Similarities to a traditional 4×4 are incidental at best.

Similarities to the inside of a worrying Dutch brothel, on the other hand… there’s an element of supposition there, he said guardedly, but if you like orange leather, this is the car for you. Tick the Magma Red Dakota Leather option and you’ll get something that looks like the spawn of Judith Chalmers and Phil Brown.

We found it foul beyond words, but taste is personal and no doubt there are people who find us foul beyond words too. Other than that, the cabin is a nice looking affair in which BMW’s usual slick design is set off by plenty of textured, soft-touch surfaces. Build quality is all-round solid, with no more than a few creaks here and there and an excellent firmness to the controls.

The seats are pretty good, too, with plenty of support and a nice, soft leather finish. Choose a better colour and it would look as classy as it feels.The seat backs are a tripe narrow for our liking, but despite the overall hatch-like atmosphere you’re well positioned with a good view of the road ahead. The waistline is quite high and the A-posts rather thick, but this doesn’t impede too much on all- round visibility – unlike the C-posts, which seem to go on forever.

Head and elbow room are better than you might expect from what is a small vehicle by the standards we’re used to. There’s plenty of space to stretch your legs, too, but a six-footer will need to adjust his seat all the way back. Good news here is that another tall ‘un will still fit into the seat behind him; it’ll be a bit of a squeeze, but deep hollows in the seat-backs mean it’s possible.

Headroom in the back is pretty limited, though, and those huge C-posts mean it feels enclosed and dark, even with that garish leather trying to brighten up the place. You certainly can carry adults in the back of an X2, but it’s better suited to kids – which, given the preponderance of yummy mummies one would expect to be buying them, is exactly what will happen.

There’s just about enough stowage provision up front but, with a bin rather than a full cubby, and quite small pockets in the doors, you might find yourself dumping stuff on the passenger’s seat. Bigger items are taken care
of the way you’d expect from a hatchback – the tailgate aperture is smaller than we’re used to, and the load space is only as long as the car’s overall proportions will allow, but the seats drop down easily and lie reasonably close to flat.

As an SUV, then, it feels kind of like a hatchback doing its best. But the payoff should come on the road.

First impressions are that the 2.0-litre diesel engine idles quite noisily. But once warmed up and under load, it settles down to a contented hum – and it pulls very eagerly all the way through the rev range.

It’s easy to drive gently, but doesn’t hesitate to thump you in the back when you kick it down; the route on the event at which we tested the X2 didn’t include any motorway driving, but it’s certainly civilised enough on fast A-roads to suggest it’ll cruise without any grief.

What you might want to do is opt for electronic damper control. This only adds £150 to the bill, and by allowing you to tune the shocks for a more comfortable ride it draws the sting that hampered BMW’s MSport models of old. We remember driving early X3s that were practically unusable on British roads, but while this X2 was on the firm side it dealt perfectly well with the cracks, lumps and pot holes that are often found on our magnificent UK roads.

Further options on our test car included MSport steering; the roads we got to drive hardly let us make the most of this, but the vehicle was certainly agile, feeling light on its feet and able to change direction with the nimbleness of… oh, of a hot hatch. Funny, that.

In this form, the X2 is a true crossover in that it’s a bit of a hatchback, a bit of an SUV, a bit sporty, a bit luxurious and a bit premium. What it’s not is a trail- blazer in any way, and nor is it cheap – the base vehicle we drove lists at £36,590, and by the time all the various options and OTR costs were taken into account it would have cost £44,185.

None of this made it feel particularly special, either. The options included things like electric seats, front parking sensors and a rear-view camera, which are a common sight on other brands’ standard kit lists at this kind of price and indeed cheaper.

That’s always been the way with the premium German brands, so it’s not a criticism of the X2 per se. All the same, it did leave us feeling that it’s a lot of money for a vehicle whose main selling point is that it’s a BMW.

Jaguar Land Rover and the BMW Group are teaming up on their development of next-generation electric drive systems, in a collaboration that will also aim to improve future safety technology as the automotive industry moves to utilise ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared) further down the line.

The merger will see the combined knowledge behind the award-winning Jaguar I-Pace and several iterations of battery tech developed since BMW launched the i3.

Shared research, development and production will provide both technological and economical benefits to both parties, but with both parties still fine tuning the products to suit the needs of their own product ranges.

Both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover will make the Electric Drive Units (EDUs) with their own production facilities, meaning that the JLR EDUs will be made at their new Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton.

But the big thing is that this could be good news for the all-new Defender!

With the launch of the new, fourth-generation X5 BMW have released the new X family aesthetic into the world, along with an active chassis system and a new interior.

Sitting larger on the road (36mm longer, 66mm wider, 19mm taller and 42mm longer wheelbase) with separate styling cues for xLine and M Sport models. xLine specification sees aluminium matt bars on the front grille, satin aluminium finish for the roof rails and side window surrounds, with the other exterior trimmings in pearl-effect chrome. M Sport X5’s are supplied with body coloured wheel arch and bumper trim, plus the rear underguard and side skirts, too. Extra large intakes at the front feature too, with the same aluminium matt barred grille. Roof rails, window surrounds and other exterior trimmings are finished in a glossy black hue. The two trims sit on 19″ and 20″ alloys respectively, with M Performance versions wearing 22s as standard – wheels up to this size are available on lesser X5s as options.

A single petrol option will feature alongside a duo of diesel  powertrains in the new X5. The X5 M50d will utilise an inline six-cylinder diesel with four-turbos – two low and two high-pressure. The 3.0-litre unit utilises both low-pressure turbos and one high-pressure at all times, with the remainder coming into play at 2,500rpm and above. The full figures quoted for the power unit are 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, combined fuel consumption of 41.5mpg, 400bhp and 561lbf.ft – potent, you could say.

The unit in the xDrive40i enlists a 3.0-litre petrol six-pot that makes do with a mere pair of turbochargers achieving 340bhp, 332lbf.ft, 5.5-seconds to 62mph and 33.2mpg on a combined cycle. Under the hood of xDrive30d is another straight-six (diesel) with a solitary turbo producing 265bhp, 457lbf.ft, a 0-62 time of 5.2-seconds and achieving 47.1mpg.

Traction – on xDrive models – is managed by the latest version of the BMW all-wheel drive system, which can now shares the power between the front and rear axles with greater precision than before. A rear-biased approach is available for spirited driving, and the rear diff-lock can enhance this for even sportier characteristics – although it is only standard on the M Performance variants.

The new X5 sits on a new chassis, which comprises of a double wishbone front axles and a five-link rear axle. This works in conjunction with dynamic damper control that electronically adjusts the handling to offer the best performance and the highest ride comfort. Air suspension is standard on both the xDrive30d and xDrive40i models, which monitors each wheel individually, and can counteract things such as uneven loading of the boot. Adaptive M suspension Professional comes with M Performance models, with active vehicle stabilisation integral active steering which aids the SUVs agility.

Inside, the instrument cluster is entirely digital, mirroring the graphics of the centre console. Drivers will also notice the newly designed, crystalesque gear selector. The control panel has also been redefined. Vernasca leather drapes the sports seating, which is electronically adjustable and heated as standard. Seat ventilation is added with the comfort packages on offer.

Much like the turbochargers, you can choose to have four different climate zones. As out of this world as that seems, you can also fit a panoramic roof with 15,000 graphics patterns that actively simulate the stars in the night sky. Neat, right?

On the topic of needless (but really cool) excess, the ambient air package ionises the air and infuses the interior with a choice of eight selectable parfums.

For those impossible to please, adolescent passengers in the back, there’s a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system featuring 20 speakers, which when combined with the rear entertainment package adds 10.2-inch 1080p HD touchscreens with a blu-ray compatible DVD player, two USB ports, an HDMI socket and a pair of headphone jacks.

Part three of the ‘I want that but bet it’s an expensive option’ section is the heated and cooled cupholders in the centre console – thus ensuring that your bovril is hot and your champagne is oh so cooled.

As with any new vehicle, the X5 features plenty of safety tech, such as lane change warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-end collision warning and speed limit information that even includes whether overtakes are allowed.

Parking assistance is also available on the X5, requiring the drivers to operate the accelerator and brake alone, with the Beemer taking control of the steering input. Parking cameras are also available.

Prices for the new X5 begins at £57,495 and it is on sale now.

BMW have announced the X7, a large SUV with three rows to seat seven adults in comfort.

At launch, the large SUV will be offered with three turbocharged six-cylinder powertrains – one petrol and two diesels. The petroleum variant (xDrive40i) poses 340bhp and 332lbf.ft, 32.5mpg on a combined cycle 198g/km. The xDrive30d offers 265bhp, 457lbf.ft and 43.5mpg and 171g/km compared to the M50d’s 400bhp, 560lbf.ft, 40.4mpg and 185g/km.

The all-wheel drive models feature the latest xDrive system, and the M50d is fitted with an M Sport differentia – which is also part of the off-road package.

A double wishbone setup at the front combines with a five-link rear axle and both feature air suspension with self-levelling as standard. When sport mode is engaged on the M50d or its speed exceeds 86mph – which it obviously won’t, ever… – the ride height is automatically lowered by 20mm. There is also room to raise the ride height in two stages by up to 40mm over the standard stance. The off-road package also adds the choice of four drive modes – xSnow, xSand, xGravel and xRocks – each time adjusting the setup to keep the X7 xSurefooted when xOff-Roading.

The rear doors are longer than the obverse pair, enhancing the ease with which occupants clamber into the second and third rows of seating. Once inside, the pair in the third row have full-size seats, with their leg room controlled by the positioning of those in the middle row. An option to have three rows of two-abreast is offered, and will equip the mid row the same armrests as those in the front. Both the second and third rows can be flattened, which would increase the boot capacity from 326 all the way up to 2,120-litres.

X7 drivers will be subject to a newly designed digital binnacle via a 12.3-inch screen, and a leather steering wheel comes as standard. The centre console plays home to a newly designed gear selector plus the iDrive controller, electronic parking brake, all drive mode buttons and the start/stop button.

Aids included for the driver are a rear-view camera, 360-degree birds-eye view. Safety features including stop-start adaptive cruise control, pedestrian warning, city braking, collision warning, crossing traffic warning and lane keep assist – but these are part of the optional Driving Assistant Professional pack.

The X7 goes on sale in April of next year, and prices will begin at £72,155 OTR.

Oh, and it’s big, with a length of just over five-metres, a wheelbase measuring a little more than three, is two-metres wide and stands at 1.8-metres tall. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot on the road, then…

The fourth generation of BMW’s X5 has been revealed, with an active chassis system and a choice of three engines.

With a new, refreshed design, the X5 remains simultaneously rugged and sleek, and is longer, taller and wider than its predecessor – with a longer wheelbase too. Xline models are differentiated from M Sport models with aluminium grille bars, window surrounds, roof rails and pearl chrome details – M Sport have body coloured wheel arches and bumper trim, and gloss black roof rails and exterior trim. M Sport lines also get bigger alloys, a choice of 20-inch alloys and 22-inch for M Sport Performance models, whilst Xline vehicles have 19-inch standard alloys.

Two diesel and a singular petrol engine will be on offer in the new X5 – the 265bhp, 457lbf.ft xDrive30d, the 400bhp, 560lbf.ft M50d and the 340bhp, 332lbf.ft xDrive40i petrol. The bigger diesel hits 60mph in 5.2 seconds, whilst the smaller option manages a combined mpg of 47.1.

Each of the engine choices comes with the latest eight-speed Steptronic automatic ‘box, with a wider ratio spread and new electric controls for improved efficiency.

M Performance models get a lockable rear diff, with all models fitted with the xDrive 4wd system – featuring a rear wheel drive option.  The new chassis setup includes a double wishbone front axle and five link rear, features a dynamic damper control system and sport or comfort settings. The system also combines active roll stabilisation, active four-wheel steering, and an optional off-road package including underbody protection, and sand, rock, gravel and snow traction control settings.

A fully digital instrument cluster shares the same graphics as the control touchscreen, in an interior with minimal physical buttons. Leather sports seats are electrically controlled and offered in a choice of four colours. M sport models get an M Sport steering wheel, pedals and accent piping on the upholstery.

Four-zone air conditioning is new, as is the panoramic glass roof which features LED lights that can imitate a starry night sky, and thermo controlled cup holders. An optional rear-seat entertainment package places two 10.1-inch screen on the rear of the front seats, and has access to a Blu-ray enabled DVD player, HMDI and USB ports and two headphone jacks.

Driver assists include adaptive cruise, stop and go functionality, the ability and adhere to speed limits, lane and steering assist, traffic assist, and lane change, crossing traffic and rear-end collision warning systems.Parking the X5 has been simplified with parking assistant, and front, rear and panoramic camera views.

Mobile connectivity is available on a subscription basis, whilst a hard drive of 20gb is embedded into the X5’s system, which remotely downloads updates when they are released. An integrated Microsoft Office 365 function brings the office to the cockpit, making emails and calendar appointments easily accessible on the move.

The fourth-gen X5 goes on sale in the UK in June, with prices beginning at £56,710 for xDrive30d models. The M50d starts at £70,690 whilst the petrol xDrive40i kicks off at £58,100.

 

 

BMW have revealed the latest addition to their X range – the X2. The small SUV will get the xDrive all-wheel drive system across the board, with one engine available at launch and more joining it throughout the year.

The X2 xDrive20d will be available with SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport X trim levels on the table. The initial engine produces 190bhp and 295lbf.ft, sprints from standstill to 62mph in 7.7 seconds and has a top speed of 137mph.

Order books are open, with prices starting at £33,890 for the X2 xDrive20d SE.