BMW launches the all new X5

BMW launches the all new X5 image

Text: / Photos: | posted August 12, 2006 00:00

Seven years after its 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show debut, BMW launches the all-new X5 Sports Activity Vehicle that aims to redefine its class courtesy of an enviable list of firsts. The new BMW X5 is the world's first SAV to be offered with Head-up Display and an active suspension system BMW's Adaptive Drive package. It is the first SAV that can be specified with Active Steering for unsurpassed maneuverability and the first to be shod with Run-flat tires for added safety. It is also the first BMW to offer a third row of seats for added practicality.

New standards in economy and emissions

The new BMW X5 is powered by the latest, most advanced engines. A choice of three units is offered, all of which feature increased power compared to the engines in the outgoing model, while also posting more economical consumption figures and reduced emissions.

Diesel economy

The BMW X5 3.0d uses an engine with high-precision piezo crystal injection technology for better economy and emission figures. This advanced technology, combined with the introduction of an all aluminum crankcase that saves 25kg in weight compared to the former 3.0-litre diesel engine, sees the new X5 record improved performance figures. It is now seven per cent more fuel efficient with a combined fuel consumption figure of 32.5mpg while also emitting eight per cent less CO2. The 3.0d engine records 231g/km.

While the new X5 is more economical it still comes with increased power. Output from the 3.0d engine is 231hp, and maximum torque is 520Nm. Such an advanced engine powers the BMW X5 3.0d from zero to 62mph in 8.3 seconds before going on to a top speed of 134mph (130mph for a non-Dynamic Package equipped model).

Petrol power

Based on the world's lightest production six-cylinder petrol engine, the BMW X5 3.0si comes equipped with BMW's patented Double VANOS and VALVETRONIC variable valve technologies for high performance, yet economical, motoring. Developing 272hp at 6,650rpm, the high-revving nature of the engine and its sonorous exhaust note set it apart from the competition. Peak torque of 315Nm is attained at 2,750rpm for in-gear responsiveness, with zero to 62mph dispatched in 8.1 seconds. Top speed for the new BMW X5 3.0si is140mph (when fitted with the Dynamic Package).
Representing the flagship of the range, the BMW X5 4.8i with its 355hp engine is faster from zero to 62mph and has a higher top speed than the supercharged Range Rover Sport or a Mercedes Benz ML500 Sport. The 4,799cc V8 powers the car to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds before going on to a top speed of 150mph (when fitted with the Dynamic Package). Despite such scintillating performance, fuel consumption is a respectable 22.6mpg on the combined cycle and emissions are 299g/km.

New six-speed automatic gearbox

The new BMW X5 comes with an all-new faster-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox now features a new torque converter with enhanced software resulting in gearshift times up to 50 per cent quicker compared with the previous automatic gearbox. A new design of gearstick also creates more space on the centre console for additional storage space and cupholders. The use of an electronic parking brake in place of a conventional handbrake aids ergonomics further.

Driving dynamics and safety

The BMW X5 offers unsurpassed safety credentials and on-road ability. Not only does its intelligent xDrive four-wheel drive system transfer power between front and rear wheels depending on available grip for optimum handling, but it can now be specified with Adaptive Drive and Active Steering two advanced systems never offered before on a BMW X model.

Adaptive Drive uses active hydraulic anti-roll bars to counteract the cornering forces of the car to keep the body from leaning too heavily and unsettling the occupants. In addition to this Adaptive Drive incorporates an Electronic Damper Control system that uses sensors to continuously adjust the damper setting for optimum comfort.

Active Steering uses an electronically operated planetary gear intersecting the steering shaft that adds more lock than inputted by the driver at slow speeds to make parking effortless. When driving at speed the opposite occurs for a smoother, more composed ride.

The latest in traction control technology, Dynamic Stability Control+, is also standard on the new X5. DSC+ comes with four unique functions for added safety and comfort. Brake Pre-tensioning shortens stopping distances during an emergency stop by priming the brakes should it detect the driver lifting off the accelerator sharply in reaction to an incident ahead. Brake Drying improves braking performance in the wet by periodically applying the brake pads to scrub away the film of water that can build up on the brake discs. Hill Start Assistant allows a car to pull away smoothly on a steep gradient without rolling backwards, courtesy of the brakes being held for the short time it takes the driver to apply the accelerator after releasing the foot or handbrake. Brake Fade Compensation applies additional braking without any extra effort from the driver should sensors detect that the brake pads are starting to lose 'bite' due to heat build up.

The driver of a BMW X5 will now also be able to select the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) function of DSC+. DTC allows for a greater degree of wheel slip for more spirited driving without the main traction control system safety net intervening. This option can be selected via a button on the centre console.

Additional seating practicality comes with new design

In a first for a BMW, the new X5 can be specified with an optional third row of seats allowing up to seven occupants to be transported in comfort. An increase of 19cms in overall body length and an increase in body width of 6cms, combined with innovative design, has made it possible to introduce a brace of seats in the rear, while still retaining luggage space. However, unlike many competitors even with all seven seats in place there is still 200 liters of boot space. The two extra seats, complete with three-point seatbelts and head restraints, are stowed under the boot floor when not in use. BMW X5 owners who do not specify the third row of seats benefit instead from an additional 90-liter storage compartment situated below the boot floor.

While being one of the most practical cars BMW has ever made, the new X5 still has a luxurious interior feel and a dynamic and sporty exterior shape. A drag coefficient as low as 0.33 places the BMW X5 at the top of its segment as the most aerodynamically efficient large SAV or SUV. This low figure is partly achieved by a rear tailgate that incorporates a roof spoiler and a near flat underbody to aid airflow. Nine exterior colors are offered initially alongside four levels of trim and seven upholstery colors to allow owners to personalize their X5s.

BMW's innovative iDrive control system also comes to the X5 for the first time. A new 'wave' style of dashboard houses the color display while the iDrive controller sits on the centre console adjacent to the new style of gear selector. The controller is complemented by eight buttons integrated as system short cuts for ease of use.