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BMW X5 2007 review: first drive


When a BMW X5 is parked in the driveway, the beauty, power and dominance is clear, without even having to turn a key in the ignition.

And most of the time this is a good thing and makes others look on in envy.

Except perhaps one weekend. Just my luck, the keys to the big BMW X5 V8 were handed to me the week I was preparing to attend the concert to “solve the climate crisis,” and show my support for environmental concerns.

Rocking up for the Live Earth concert in a gas-guzzling four wheel drive, probably isn't the best way to blend in with the greenies or avoid a tomato- throwing witch hunt either.

So, in an effort to show my support for the environment, I sacrificed the cosy, luxurious leather seating, the spacious and well-equipped capsule, the glamorous looks and all the perks of the German brand for the day.

Instead, to clear my conscience, I opted for a smelly old train.

But after doing my bit for the environment, it was time to jump back into the big, thirsty but powerful X5. Purely for work reasons, of course.

We tested two X5 models back to back, the 4.8-litre V8 and the slightly more environmentally friendly 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

With the V8 you find you have a bit of a battle on your hands. On one shoulder you've got the little angel slapping you in the face with all those thoughts of the environment and the large fuel costs. On the other, there's the devil inside you screaming fun, fast and faster.

While the V8 has an exceptional performance, it doesn't seem to be screaming loud enough to make you forget about those other factors, no matter how good its exhaust note.

The V8 is priced at a hefty $118,300, more than $30,000 dearer than the base model diesel. Planting your foot makes you temporarily forget about that price hike.

The V8 picks up rather quickly with its spirited drive and powers the whole 2170kg of the car without hesitation.

But with speed limits around town limited to 50 or 60km, the real fun of pushing the V8 comes to a sudden end. Between 3000rpm and 4000rpm, the growl from the engine really kicks in.

Shift into the Drive Sport mode and you'll hear that sweet tune for even longer. The V8 loves to rev and gives off a real sports car sound, just enough to scare off those “light” cars.

Perhaps it was the timing but the guilt sometimes rose with the revs.

The full 261kW is attained further up the tacho at 6300rpm, and the maximum 475Nm pushes through between 3400rpm and 3800rpm.

Something else to tip the scales towards the V8 is the 6.5 seconds it takes for this big car to reach 100km. The diesel adds 2.1 seconds, still with an impressive 8.6 seconds.

The claimed consumption on the V8 is 12.5-litres per 100km, but with some enthusiastic driving, it's not hard to find yourself right up at 17-litres per 100km and even beyond.

The diesel, on the other hand, recorded 10.1-litres per 100km, although that was still driven a little hard, with the claimed consumption at a much lower 8.7-litres per 100km.

And while the V8 has that “fun” edge, it doesn't seem enough to justify the price premium, especially considering most owners will use the X5 for suburban and city driving.

A job the $86,800 diesel can perform just as well, although we tested the slightly more expensive Executive version, which took the price up to $96,300 and adds features such as a rear-view camera, Bluetooth preparation and the navigation and TV system into the mix.

The lightweight 3.0-litre inline six turbo-diesel has a much lower power output, with 160kW, but the 500Nm of torque delivered from 1750rpm to 2750rpm, has no problem in getting around town in an enjoyable fashion.

The torque at lower revs is also better for bends and hills.

The growl is still there in the diesel, making an appearance lower down the tacho, although it's just not quite to the same effect as the V8.

It's still a lively performance and apart from the diesel on the hands when refilling, there's not much to complain about.

Noise levels inside are quiet and you quickly forget you're even in a diesel.

When first jumping in the X5, its size is an aspect you can't escape.

Think Hulk, think Terminator, think big. Standing almost five metres long and around two metres wide, you'd be pretty safe backing this one in a fist fight against just about any other car.

The high seating position gives good visibility over traffic and once driving and manoeuvring around town, you quickly adjust and even city car parks become easier than expected.

On-road handling is pretty comfortable, although it can feel a little bouncy at times. A slight detour to gravel roads showed the comfort remained despite differing conditions.

Steering is very accurate and direct, not too light but not too strong.

Body movement is also minimal thanks to the X5's stiffer body and a new suspension system.

It also features permanent xDrive all-wheel-drive providing enhanced dynamics and traction, while reducing over and understeer in bends.

The boot isn't very deep, a result of the space-saver spare, but still fits a couple of suitcases without a problem.

When it comes down to it, the diesel X5 is obviously the more practical choice, although if you're purely after performance in a big package, the V8 would be the way to go.


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X3 2.0D 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,600 – 10,230 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X3 2.0D Pricing and Specs
X3 2.5SI 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,200 – 11,110 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X3 2.5SI Pricing and Specs
X3 3.0D 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $8,000 – 12,430 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X3 3.0D Pricing and Specs
X5 3.0D Executive 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $10,900 – 15,950 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X5 3.0D Executive Pricing and Specs
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