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Home > Business > Special

Check out the new BMW X5!

BS Bureau in Mumbai | August 12, 2006

Yes, we were as stumped as you. Because as far as we can tell, it looks the same, but BMW is claiming that the X5 is all-new. Actually, it is. The new lines are a gentle evolution rather than a really violent revolution.

Look sharply and you will notice the new curves, the sharper plane definitions, the new age lamps and the clean-up of the bumper level surfaces that mark the new design.

However, BMW obviously don't think the styling evolution is the greatest harping point of their big SUV (BMW would prefer the term SAV, which they coined seven years ago, at the 1999 launch of the first-generation X5), because the headline grabbers are the new powerplants, an upgrade to an all-new six-speed automatic gearbox and the smart repackaging of the interior.

The greasy bits first. The new X5 will get initially three engine options. All of which result in more powerful machines. The turbodiesel is a 2993cc unit, which is good for 231 bhp and 52 kgm (from 2000 to 2750 rpm) and should manage a 8.3 second run to 100 kph.

With the use of aluminium for the crankcase, this motor is lighter than its predecessor by 25 kg. BMW claims seven per cent lower fuel consumption, and believe this will be the most popular of the three options. A sure shot in India too!

The petrols on the menu are a 2996cc inline-six and the range topping 4799cc V8. The super-light six in the X5 3.0si will feature BMW's variable lift and valve timing tech, resulting in better fuel economy. And with 272 bhp on tap, it shouldn't be a slouch either. BMW claims performance numbers similar to the diesel, but with a higher top speed.

The top of the heap is the X5 4.8i, which sports a muscle-bound 355 bhp engine, claiming better acceleration and top speed times than both the supercharged Range Rover Sport and the Mercedes-Benz ML500 Sport. The big V8 pushes through 100 kph in just 6.5 seconds and with the optional dynamic setup, manages 240 kph.

All the three engines send torque rushing to the driven wheels through a new six-speed automatic transmission. A new torque converter with new software changes ratios twice as fast.

The shift selector is a new one as well, while the introduction of an electronic parking brake means an end to handbrake turns, er... means more space for odds-ends and cup holders.

BMW has added xDrive to the X5, a system that transfers power between the front and rear wheels depending on the conditions. Helping the cause are Adaptive Drive and Active Steering, both debuting on the X5.

The first uses hydraulic anti-roll bars to control body roll when you're on it. And it incorporates sensors to continuously adjust damper settings for optimum comfort.

The latter system, which debuted on the 6 Series, uses a fairly hi-tech sounding gizmoid to vary the turn rate per lock of the steering wheel with speed for best effect. In effect, it makes parking stupidly easy without messing up high speed control and feel.

If you're an absolute gadget freak, loaded or just have to have it all, then you can also add a heads-up display (speed and navigation data projected into your view).

Like all big cars, the amount of software in this car will drive a nerd to distraction. The foremost being the upgraded stability programme BMW calls DSC+. It readies the brake for imminent emergency "oh heck" situations, dries wet brakes, applies more pressure when it detects brake fade and holds the car in place as you fumble uphill starts.

To tickle the enthusiast, you can also use Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) to allow the X5 to slide about a bit (look like a hero and still have a safety net). Wait, that's not all. The infamous iDrive finally debuts in the X5!

Finally, BMW are claiming that the X5 is more practical than ever with a bigger cabin, litres and litres of more storage and the brand's first third row seating (a people mover from BMW is expected in the next model year).

The third row folds into the floor when not needed and leaves a flat boot floor. They are optional though, and should you not pick them, the two holes they leave behind are just more storage for you.

Interested? You'll have to wait, as right-hand drive versions will take some more time. However, it looks like the new X5 could be worth the wait.

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