BMW X5: First Look
BMW X5 (E70)
Standard features in the new BMW X5 include
curtain airbags, 18-inch wheels and a 6-speed auto
BMW's new X5 can be had with three engines:
3.0-litre diesel and petrol and 4.8-litre petrol V8
The V8-powered X5 is quick: 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds
The new gear lever features forward and backward
movements only, instead of the old mechanical style
J-gate system, and even has an electronic park brake
The E70 X5 will compete with the Audi Q7, Mercedes
M-Class, Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne
BMW has shown its new luxury SUV (internally known as the E70) for the first time publicly at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, and instead of going all out to create an entirely new vehicle, BMW has stuck to it's guns: what you see is pretty much what you get.
Other than a subtle new exterior style, there's nothing radically different about the new SAV, or Sports Activity Vehicle as BMW coins the phrase.
There are a number of changes that BMW has made to the E70 X5 that are not as obvious to the naked eye as the styling updates, such as the more powerful V8 and L6 engines, but even then the engines are simply upgraded versions of existing engines.
Another new feature to the X5, the FlexRay system, is a nice touch and combines electrically operated anti-roll bars and electromagnetic damper valves to control body roll through corners to theoretically increase driving enjoyment, but this system is nothing new in the automotive industry.
From afar, the new model retains the original E53 X5's silhouette, and from the side its profile is again similar, with a resemblance to BMW's smaller SUV, the X3. In BMW's own words, "The new model captures and enhances the original's look of powerful elegance and presence."
The styling enhancements are most obvious at the front end, with the headlights given a curvier style that mimics elements seen in the 1 and 3 Series BMW vehicles. As BMW explains, "The powerfully domed bonnet, the three-dimensional rods on the BMW kidney grille, and the headlight units integrated in the side panels all act together to give the front end of the new BMW X5 a particularly powerful expression."
The more dominant twin kidney grille and quad element headlights (which can be optioned with xenon and adaptive cornering headlamps) are backed up by a redesigned hood, which features a number of power lines that provide the front end with an assertive dynamic, and will no doubt have current owners clamouring to trade in their current models for the new model with its extra helpings of machismo. The front apron also sits below the grille and headlight section gets a fresh new look, featuring blacked out sections and top spec models get two lower air dams with a single chrome strake bisecting them.
BMW has updated the rear end as well, with new brake lights housings that, like the headlights, take their styling cues from BMW's cash cow, the new 3 Series. Comprised of four LED "light rods" the brake lights are pleasingly modern, and as BMW says they provide a "powerful and striking night design".
BMW's new 4x4 is also larger than its forebear, measuring 4854mm long and 1933mm wide, which is some 188mm longer and about 60mm wider, which makes for slightly improved interior space. The new design creates a more aerodynamic shape, and as BMW explains, one of the outstanding qualities of the body design of the new BMW X5 is unusually good streamlining with a low drag coefficient. A drag coefficient of 0.33 in the X5 3.0si places the new X5 at the top of its segment according to German company.
To achieve these solid aerodynamic figures, the new X5 came in for work on the underfloor and specific aerodynamic improvements at the rear. BMW is confident that the new X5 is the first production vehicle in the world to feature a roof spoiler with aerodynamic edges integrated at the side for a precisely defined cut-off of air flow.
With it's defiant new look, BMW has given the new X5 range a significant performance boost to match, starting with the V8 hero model. BMW Australia mentions that local engine specification will be confirmed at a later date (closer to its Aussie launch) but the current information for European models won't be changed dramatically.
The BMW X5 4.8i features a 4.8-litre V8 that now outputs a very serious 261kW (350hp) and generates 475Nm of torque between 3400 and 3800rpm for a flexible midrange punch. The big 4.8-litre V8 sounds like it would drink lots of fuel, and it's true that's it's not the most frugal engine in the new X5 range, yet despite the 11 per cent rise in power, fuel consumption has been reduced by 5 per cent to 12.5L/100km in the combined EU test cycle.
BMW's range-topping V8 bruiser gets double-Vanos variable camshaft adjustment and fully variable valve adjustments, flow-optimised intake ducts and valves as well as a brand-new exhaust system and engine mapping software that come together to ensure a smooth flow of the fuel/air mixture, giving the new BMW X5 an even more powerful response and truly supreme driving dynamics, says the German car maker. Performance specifications are as follows: zero to 100km/h acceleration in 6.5 seconds, with top speed limited electronically to 240km/h.
The other petrol engine offered in the X5 range is the upgraded 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder engine that is one of BMW's most widely used powerplants, available in the Z4, 1, 3, and 5 Series vehicles. However, the new X5 gets a 200kW (268hp) version of this magnesium-aluminium engine, the most powerful naturally aspirated version yet (and not including the new twin turbo version). The 3.0-litre engine is described by BMW as combining smooth and fast-revving response with superior refinement and harmony.
Along with its 200 kilowatts of power, peak torque for the 3.0-litre petroleum fuelled engine is 315Nm @ 2750rpm. Like the revised V8 engine, the L6 motor offers more power while using less fuel, something that BMW should be commended for. Performance and fuel efficiency specifications are as follows: zero to 100km/h acceleration in 8.1 seconds, with a top speed of 225km/h. Average fuel consumption in the combined EU cycle is 10.9L/100km, which is 14 per cent less than for the former model, despite an increase in power of 18 per cent.
The third engine choice, which may be added at a later date to the Australian X5 range due to its expected popularity in Europe, is a diesel version and will form the core of the BMW X5 3.0d model. BMW says that the 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine is now 25kg lighter than the previous power unit (due to its all-aluminium block). It is also the most fuel efficient model in the new X5 line-up, using piezo injectors to burn just 8.7L/100km in the combined EU test cycle, which is down by seven per cent from the previous model. Like the other models, power and torque have risen: 170kW of peak power and 520Nm @ 2000rpm, which is more torque than the 4.8-litre V8 engine makes. Performance specifications are as follows: zero to 100km/h acceleration in 8.3 seconds, with a top speed of 216km/h.
Click here for more info on the three engine types and their performance specs.
Matched to the revised range of 6- and 8-cylinder engines is a new 6-speed automatic transmission, which will be standard on all BMW X5 models. The company explains that the new 6-speed auto is quicker to shift through the gears, "at a truly incomparable pace, with unparalleled precision" and improves performance while promoting improved fuel efficiency. The new gearbox comes in two versions, one of which is tailored to the lower torque levels of the 200kW 6-cylinder petrol engine, and the other version set up for the higher torque output of the diesel six and the petrol eight. BMW claims the new gearboxes shift between gears up to 50% quicker than conventional autos, and have the ability to skip several gear ratios when decelerating rapidly.
Paired with the new 6-speed transmissions are new electronic gear selectors, that look like the kind of stylised joystick you'd expect to find plugged into a videogame system - albeit with more chrome than usual. BMW says that while the gearshift pattern is the same as on a conventional automatic transmission, the selector lever moves back to its starting position after each use, and that transmission management is now no longer mechanical, but is rather effected through electrical signals. Another new feature is that the tradition parking position is no more due to the single up-down inputs, and replaced by the 'P' push-button on the upper side of the selector lever. A tip-tronic mode is also part of the new transmission system, and because of the gear levels smaller size, more room on the centre console is made available for storage solutions.
In normal operating conditions, such as cruising on the freeway, xDrive (BMW's AWD system) splits drive forces front-to-rear 40:60. Reacting extremely quickly and precisely xDrive ensures variable power distribution front-to-rear as soon as a specific driving situation or surface conditions require.
As well as the FlexRay system, which pairs electrically operated anti-roll bars and electromagnetic damper valves to limit body roll through corners, the new X5, claims BMW, is the first vehicle in its class available as an option with Active Steering. It says this advanced system offers exactly the right steering ratio at all speeds: up to a speed of approximately 90km/h steering behaviour is more direct, thus meeting the requirements of sporting and active motoring. A further advantage is it takes just two turns to go from lock-to-lock. At higher speeds, Active Steering transmission is more indirect, enhancing the directional stability of the vehicle and, accordingly, its driving comfort.
Like all good SUVs offered today, catering for the family is a important issue, and for the first time the BMW X5 will offer a third row of seats. BMW reckons the factory fitted seats provide enough space for two passengers up to 1.7m tall, making the new X5 a true 7-seat vehicle. The third row seats feature the same 3-point inertia-reel seat belts and adjustable headrests as the other seats and to improve third row access, the second row seats can be moved forward, just like the front seats in a 2-door coupe vehicle.
The second row occupants haven't been forgotten, and with the increases in exterior dimensions middle seat passengers benefit from an additional 40mm of knee room compared with the first generation X5. Luggage space has also been uprated, as the loading area is 100mm longer than before, which an extra 110 litres (up 22%) of cargo space, taking the grand total to 620 litres in the 5-seat versions, or 1750 litres with the back seats folded flat (with the optional third row seats installed, the new X5 has 200 litres of boot space.)
BMW has also upgraded the iDrive system for the new X5 model, and there's now the option of adding the Head-Up Display (HUD), which is unique in this segment claims BMW, and involves data being projected on the windscreen like a floating hologram, which means the driver can be informed of road speed, navigation instructions, and many other functions and features without having to look away from the road (or off-road track, as the case may be).
The new BMW X5 also offers a parking brake with both an electro-mechanical and hydraulic function activated or released at the touch of a button, so there's no need to pull on a heavy lever to lock the car down when parking on inclines or in wet weather.
Safety tyres are fitted as standard with the second generation X5 and BMW says that they are fitted to extended hump rims which ensures the tyre does not ride off the rim while deflated. BMW Safety Tyres allow motorists to continue driving even after a complete loss of tyre pressure. In such a case BMW Safety Tyres allow the BMW X5 to continue in safety for up to 250 km (subject to load) at speeds of up to 80km/h, which isn't very useful if you get a puncture in the middle of nowhere, which is why Australian-specified vehicles will be fitted with an emergency spare wheel to deal with such situations.
The new E70 BMW X5 now comes as standard with 18-inch wheels running on massive 255/55 tyres for good levels of grip. Larger light-alloy wheel measuring 19- and even 20-inches running on tyre sizes of up to 275/40 at the front and 315/35 at the rear are available as an option, explains BMW, adding that a further safety feature is the Tyre Defect Indicator that warns the driver of a gradual loss of air pressure. Consistently comparing wheel speed, this system registers any deviation from normal pressure and a graphic symbol in the instrument cluster display informs the driver whenever tyre pressure deviates from the pressure required by more than 30 per cent.
Like Mercedes-Benz, BMW has been one of the market leaders in terms of occupant safety, and the new X5 is deemed to be one of the safer SUVs in the world. Adding to the 4x4s highly rigid passenger cell/body structure, the new BMW X5 featuring frontal and hip/thorax airbags, but also curtain/head airbags at the side as standard equipment on all three models.
While the BMW X5 models will not come cheap, expected to be priced from about $82,000 as the current X5 3.0i model is, you can easily blow another ten thousand on options, of which the following are just a taste:
- DVD video system for the second row of seats
- CD- or DVD-changer housed in the glove compartment
- 16-speaker Multi-channel audio system
- Backup camera (video system facilitating parking manoeuvres, suited to confined areas or places with poor visibility)