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BMW X5 2007 review: snapshot


In this segment of Sports Activity Vehicles, a phrase coined by BMW for its original X5, buyers can't seem to get enough.

Sure a four-wheel-drive says "I`m adventurous" but in the case of the X5 and other luxury models, most rarely make it beyond the dirt track on the way to the boat ramp or a muddy polo field.

The second generation of the BMW X5 will go on sale in Australia next month, complete with improvements in engines, suspension, fuel consumption and comfort.

Initially, the X5 will be available in the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo diesel and the range-topping 4.8-litre, V8 petrol engines.

The diesel will start at $86,800 and the 4.8-litre will be priced at $118,300.

A 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol model will follow in June, with an $85,000 price tag.

And while it may look similar to its predecessor, take a closer look and the new X5 has undergone considerable changes.

Project Manager for the X5 Series development, Albert Biermann, says their aim was to make the X5 look close to the first model, while offering more room on the inside.

And buyers now have the option of fitting a third row of seats, making it the first BMW to be available as a seven-seater.

But the extra two seats will set you back between $3000 and $5000, depending on what engine model you choose. And these are really only suitable for children or short adults, as there is limited leg room.

The X5 is now longer and wider.

On the exterior, changes include integrating the bumper and plastic fender, tweaking the style of the rear and the front, a newly designed double kidney grille and black covers around the bumper and side gills.

On the interior, the instrument display is now the same level as the cluster and positioned towards the driver, so you don't have to look down as much.

And there have been some big improvements behind the scenes as well.

All three engine variants produce more power and torque, with an 18 per cent increase in power for the base model six-cylinder, up to 200kW and five per cent more torque, with 315Nm. The V8 delivers 261kW and 475Nm of torque.

The diesel's torque is even better, with 500Nm from as low as 1750rpm to 2750rpm and 160kW of power.

"Off road was not on top of the agenda when we developed X5," Biermann says. "It can go off road, it's capable of providing really good traction but it was not the main focus at all."

The body and suspension of the new X5 are brand new from the ground up. It has 15 per cent higher torsional stiffness, which means less body roll when tackling corners. And this was noticeable during our first drive this week at the Australian launch of the X5.

Changes have been made without increasing the weight of the vehicle.

And while it isn't exactly a top off-road four-wheel drive, it handled quite well on the dirt roads this week.

The test didn't involve extreme conditions, but the ride quality and handling was still comfortable, although a little bumpy at times.

The free-revving V8 particularly highlighted the great driving dynamics of the X5 out on the country roads.

And with torque kicking in relatively quickly on the diesel, as well as a considerably quiet engine, this model also won friends.

The X5 now sits on 18-inch runflat tyres instead of 17-inch, the V8 standard with 19-inch runflats.

And in terms of suspension, the X5 is the

first BMW to use a double wishbone front axle, which Biermann says gives a high

level of acceleration and good traction and braking capability. The shock absorbers are also more responsive.

A manual is no longer available, as only five per cent of first generation X5 buyers chose the manual option. Instead, all models have a new six-speed automatic transmission.

To allow for the American obsession of "supersizing", the X5 has been fitted with electric transmission and an electric handbrake — to make room for bigger cup holders. The new transmission is smooth, and shifting into the sports mode is an enjoyable drive. It allows the engine to rev high without having to change gears yourself.

It was perfect for winding roads, although the manual function on the transmission can also be used. And while BMW has kept the price down, there are a lot of worthy options, which means you'll probably end up spending more than expected.

Features such as heated seats and a reverse camera would have been good as standard, but instead incur an extra fee. An Executive model is available on the six-cylinder models, offering some common extras, including the reversing camera, navigation, TV tuner and bluetooth, for an extra $9500.

BMW expects to sell around 2600 models in Australia this year, most of them diesels.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

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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