How will SUV fans remember 2003? As the year when the well-to-do end of the market mushroomed, giving buyers an even greater choice, or the year the X5’s honeymoon ended? Whichever way you choose to look at it, after three glorious seasons as the default SUV for the moneyed set, BMW’s phenomenally successful off-roader has begun to feel the heat from a new crop of luxo cars on stilts, most notably Volvo’s aggressively priced and hugely talented XC90.
And next spring things are set to get even more complicated when the X3 arrives in UK showrooms, priced and sized surprisingly close to the X5. Although work is underway on a bigger, Bangler next-generation X5, production is still several years away, hence this facelifted X5, which, despite first appearances, has undergone some pretty serious changes, most of which you can’t see.
Even those you can see are so hard to spot that included in BMW’s press material was a series of before and after snaps of the type you’d see in kid’s puzzle books. You know the sort: ‘Ten changes have been made to the photo on the right; can you spot them?’ For the record, the front end receives new headlamps, a more prominent grille and a restyled bonnet with bigger power bulges, while at the rear a new set of clear indicators are the sole tell-tale.