Even though Bracknell's perfectly prepared X5 4.6is dosed me with the usual 'new car narcotic', it didn't take me long to notice the difference between my regular set of wheels and BMW's top-of-the-range off-roader. Compared to an M5, the X5 4.6is' ride is like surfing down an endless mountain of irregular sized rocks on a tea tray. The X5's rock-hard suspension and 20' wheels transformed the smallest road imperfections-slight dips, tiny ruts, minor repairs and fractional changes in the paving surfaces-into 'events'. My partner called the resulting sensation 'road turbulence'. As her barely legible notes reveal, the incessant bone shaking was a major distraction.
Don't get me wrong. I know the value of a rock-hard suspension. I've driven a Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec at speed. But c'mon, we're talking about an X5. A 'normal' (i.e. non-Sport) X5 is one of the world's most comfortable cruising machines. Perched imperiously above traffic and/or vegetation, nestled into its spacious, serene, superbly appointed cabin, owners waft along without a care in the world. There's enough metal and mod cons to cosset all who nestle within. Sure, the beast wallows a bit in the corners. And yes, even the 4.4 litre petrol-powered model could use a tad more power, but don't be churlish. If you're in no great hurry, an X5 is a perfect place to wile away the hours spent going from here to there.