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BMW X5 2007 Review

And while one could lay claim to both titles, the other is strictly an indulgence. We've sampled two of the new X5s — the three-litre turbodiesel and the 4.8-litre V8.

BMW expects more than 70 per cent of its sales to be powered by the former and the remaining 30 per cent split between the upcoming three-litre six and the V8.

Why? The diesel is the cheaper of the two at a low $86,800 and while the power figure of 160kW might sound a little on the short side, its 500Nm of torque between 1750rpm and 2750rpm more than makes up for it.

The $118,300 V8 has more power — a scintillating 216kW at a melodious 6300rpm but, with 475Nm of torque produced between 3400rpm and 3800rpm, the diesel has the bent-eight beaten for that all-important torque.

Both use the clever (sometimes overly so) ZF six-speed automatic transmission to good effect, although the overruling habits of the gearbox in either car can be annoying when the driver has opted for manual shifts, only to have them countermanded by the transmission — it's a manual, after all.

At least BMW could have used Ford's system, which leaves gear selection unchanged unless the kick-down switch at the end of the throttle travel is breached.

The oil-burner has more torque at lower engine revolutions and a better spread, which gives it the advantage on bends or climbing.

And not surprisingly, the diesel uses a stack less fuel. The three-litre turbodiesel lays claim to a combined figure of 8.7 litres per 100km and we saw 10.5 during our time in the oiler. The big V8 claims 12.5L/100km from the 85-litre tank but on test the figure was around 17L/100km, no doubt the result of the enthusiastic driving inspired by the exhaust note and the A-grade dynamics.

Weight watchers will look longingly at the diesel version at 2105kg, with the bent-eight weighing in at 2170kg. Drive-wise, the diesel model is a step forward for the BMW SUV.

And that's no mean feat given the quiet and torquey brilliance of its predecessor.

The new model has gone further in insulating the cabin from the engine — which has a half-decent noise for a rattly oil-burner to start with.

But putting it into an encapsulated engine bay finishes the job nicely. Performance figures give the straight-line sprint to the V8 — 6.5 seconds to 100km/h against 8.6 seconds for the diesel.

The V8 also gets an extra 30km/h on the diesel's 210km/h top speed. The V8 might be thirsty and peaky, but it has pace aplenty and a delicious throaty noise.

Both handle and ride with grace to the point that you could be forgiven for forgetting both these vehicles weigh close to 2.25 tonnes and are almost 5m long. Driving enthusiasts will enjoy the car-like dynamics of the X5. The suspension minimises movement and settles the chassis constantly, allowing them to tuck into corners — acting more like a sports car than a SUV.

The willingness of the more powerful V8 X5 to behave on the bitumen — while constantly urging you to attack the road ahead with vigour — gave us a healthy respect for the BMW engineers. They have delivered this superb balance to what is really an off-roader. Sound systems in both are good, but the V8 gets twice as many speakers as the diesel's standard six. There's plenty of space for legs, heads or luggage in the standard arrangement. Both can be optioned to seat seven ($5000 option for the 3.0d and $3000 on the V8), although space here is at a premium.

The V8 model gets twin-piston 365mm vented discs on the front and 345mm vented discs on the rear, while the diesel gets single-piston swing-caliper 348mm vented disc brakes on the front and single-piston swing-caliper 320mm vented disc on the rear.

The V8 gets standard headlight washers, body-coloured door handles, adjustable xenon headlights, self-levelling rear suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels and satnav.

Both vehicles have standard leather trim, electrically adjustable driver's seat, leather-bound wheel, trip computer, auto-dimming rear-vision mirrors, climate control, cruise control and front, side and curtain airbags.


Fast facts


Price: $86,800 (turbodiesel); $118,300 (V8).

Body: 5-door wagon.

Engine: 3.0-litre in-line 6-cylinder turbodiesel 160KW@4000rpm 500Nm@1750-2750rpm, 4.8-litre V8, 261kW @6300rpm, 475Nm@ 3400rpm-3800rpm (V8)

Transmission: 6-speed auto, all-wheel drive with stability control.

Fuel: 85-litre tank, turbodiesel 8.7L/100km (on test) 10.5L/100km (claimed); V8 17L/100km (on test), 12.5L/100km (claimed)

Performance: 0-100km/h/top speed: 8.6 seconds/210km/h (turbodiesel); 6.5seconds/240km/h (V8)

Pricing guides

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