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BMW X5 2008 Review

Almost a sports-sedan, the quick BMW X5 hits 100km in 7.2 seconds.

We looked forward to being seen in the latest edition of BMW's X5 with the special enthusiasm one might reserve for being clamped in stocks and pelted with rotten vegetables by a jeering mob of vigilantes.

It's not for nothing that the regular reader (happy Mother's Day, honey) has begun to suspect we're not altogether in favour of fat SUVs in the city.

So, just to clarify: we do not advocate persecuting owners. Gosh no. They should have a fair trial first. Then on to the persecution.

It isn't that SUV owners are necessarily worse drivers than the rest of us — the Australian standard is universally awful. Which is a bit like the roads, actually.

It's just that when an SUV-head lurches down the City West Link (mobile clamped to ear and two wheels in each lane) or U-turns at a red-light intersection, or can't be bothered indicating before lane barging, they're liable to inflict a lot more damage on an innocent road user than the idiot who does likewise in a Yaris.

Possibly the best that can be said for the X53.0sd (“super diesel”, for heaven's sake) is that it almost overcomes the prejudice of even so vehement a critic of SUVs in the suburbs as we.

It's hardly BMW's fault that this country's mad tariff and tax regime would make a behemoth such as this more affordable than a sedan fitted with the same stonking 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder diesel. Not that the hugely-praised-in-Europe 335d is on the cards for this part of the planet.

And that's a pity because, in typically clinical Bimmer fashion, it's mightily impressive — even more so in its way than the marque's much babbled-about (by us) twin-turbo petrol engine.

As harnessed to the 3.0sd, it achieves an impressive 200kW and a truly alpine torque peak of 565Nm from way down low in the rev range.

Near as frugal and low-emitting as the lesser X5 3.0d Executive, the uber version is almost sports-sedan quick. A neat 7.2 seconds is claimed for the 0-100km/h dash and it feels it — you have to look hard to detect any substantial lag when leaping off the line.

And it gets about as close you could reasonably expect something of this size and displacement to sports sedan-like handling.

BMW likes the X5 to be known as an “SAV” — for sports activity vehicle — as opposed to the utilitarian SUV. This isn't just the jargon you expect from a car company: the X5's rear-biased all-wheel-drive, balance and general dynamic surety are enhanced when pushing on a bit by electronic safety devices that presume the driver has some slight idea of what they're about.

Still, as we say, that's a generous assumption in a country of non-existent driver training.

In oppressive city conditions (and let's face it, most X5s leave town once a year to go to Thredbo), the reversing camera and all-around visual proximity sensors make it easier to reverse park than certain hatchbacks we've driven lately.

Though the vehicle is well-endowed with kit by BMW standards, the options list is long and varied enough to fill one of these columns.

Suffice to say, our loan vehicle came with the $4500 sports package which adds sport suspension settings (which, just for once, manage not to wreck the ride), a fat steering wheel, 19-inch light-alloys, nicer seats, poncey trim and even tarted-up roof lining.

None of these niceties disguises the stark fact that this is basically a Bimmer interior, comfortable enough to be sure, but some way from the MLs, Q7s or Cayennes of this world.

Of all the German marques, it's the current generation of BMWs that serves most to remind us of Blackadder's immortal remark that “there's no word in the German language for fluffy.”

Frippery aside, the newest X5 is remorselessly impressive — a better idea in most circumstances than the substantially more expensive and thirsty V8 petrol jobbie.

Yet for everyone sitting smug in an X5, there's always going to be someone who sees you as a complete knob. Even if they don't lob an old spud at you.



BMW X5 3.0sd

Price: from $105,800

Engine: 3L/6-cylinder turbo diesel; 200kW/565Nm and 0-100km/h: 7.2seconds

Economy: 12.4L/100km, as tested


Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

3.0d 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $12,000 – 19,000 2008 BMW X5 2008 3.0d Pricing and Specs
3.0d Executive 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $16,850 – 17,990 2008 BMW X5 2008 3.0d Executive Pricing and Specs
3.0sd 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $14,990 – 22,990 2008 BMW X5 2008 3.0sd Pricing and Specs
3.0si 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $16,989 – 19,888 2008 BMW X5 2008 3.0si Pricing and Specs