There’s a slightly busier head-up display, heated and cooled cupholders, a thump-tastic 1500 watt Harmon Kardon stereo, laser headlights (they double the beam-length of conventional headlamps, for a lighthouse-like range) and a suite of connectivity options that includes Microsoft Office 365 and perhaps riskily, the possibility of using your smartphone as the car’s keys.
There are many more neat details. When off-roading, you can see video images of each individual X5 wheel on the infotainment screen, as if you were viewing them from outside. So if you’re about to drive off the edge of a ledge, into a modest boulder or over a tree root, you can see it.
To ease the scramble into the optional sixth and seventh seats, a section of the middle row motors forward and then tilts upwards, towards the headlining, at the single stab of a button. And pressing a button in the top edge of the lower tailgate drops the entire rear end of the X5 by 40mm, to help you load it.
At heart, though, this is still an X5, the driving position as familiar as the quietly luxuriant logic of the cabin. BMW’s refinement quest is immediately apparent in the diesel’s subdued idle, its efforts barely audible if you let the transmission have its perceptive, unobtrusive way.
Unlike some post-WLTP models, notably the VW Touareg 3.0 TDI, this is a car whose driveability remains seamless. Also barely noticeable is the X5’s DERV-conserving freewheel facility, your clocking of the driveline’s re-engagement more likely to be spotted via the rev counter than a shuddering driveline.
It’s not all brilliant, though. Flat-out, the X5 doesn’t feel as fast as the claimed 6.5sec to 62mph time implies, and if you shift manually you’ll uncover some sub-2000rpm lag. In sport mode, which enlivens the driveline pretty effectively, the loudspeaker-delivered sports diesel soundtrack can turn a little wearing, too.
Dynamically, though, it’s not inappropriate backing. The test route included long sections of tight, twisting country road better suited to an MX-5 than an SUV, and once you’re used to the quickened rack of the (optional) Integral Active Steering you discover prodigious grip, excellent body control and an impressive resistance to understeer for a vehicle topping two-and-a-fifth tonnes.
You can even feel what the front wheels are doing. What spoils it, slightly, is that the Active Steering’s swivelling of the rear wheels (useful in city manoeuvres) is continuously variable in sport mode, lending a hard-pushed X5 a slightly inconsistent feel at the wheel.
Few will push this big SUV so hard of course, but rear-steer quirks aside there’s no question that BMW has delivered more of a driver’s X5. It’s also very capable off-road, a mix of high torque, versatile suspension and trick algorithms likely to keep you moving along most tracks. It’s still more entertaining as the petrol 40i, the six delivering deliciously cultured sounds and a lightly electrifying gear-shift blat at full revs. It’s also a restfully quiet cruiser.
Mildly disappointing are the big 20in wheels’ pothole assaults (these are single chamber air springs, rather than the more absorbent multi-chamber variety), but this big BMW’s primary ride is excellent. So is its accommodation – you’d hope for nothing less in a vehicle this big – though Chinese buyers will doubtless consider the slightly constrained rear legroom ego-dentingly limited.