August 9, 2006 The original BMW X5 has been an unqualified success since it hit the showroom floor seven years ago as the first SUV-type vehicle to offer a genuinely sporty car-like drive, and still holds its own in a very competitive category. Yesterday, BMW took the wraps partially off its successor, which comes with more power, lower emissions, better fuel consumption, an all-new six-speed automatic gearbox and a range of technologies which are new to the market segment such as a head-up display, run-flat tyres, and Adaptive Drive suspension management. It’s also BMW’s first ever car with a third-row of seating for added practicality.
The new BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) arrives with a more powerful V8 4.8-litre petrol engine developing maximum output of 261kW, a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine with maximum output of 200 kW, and a 3.0-litre straight-six all aluminium diesel with peak power of 170 kW.
Sick of Ads?
Join more than 500 New Atlas Plus subscribers who read our newsletter and website without ads.
It's just US$19 a year.More Information
The BMW X5 3.0d uses an engine with high-precision piezo crystal injection technology for better economy and emission figures. This advanced technology, combined with the introduction of an all aluminium crankcase that saves 25kg in weight compared to the former 3.0-litre diesel engine, sees the new X5 record improved performance figures. It is now seven per cent more fuel efficient with a combined fuel consumption figure of 32.5mpg while also emitting eight per cent less CO2. The 3.0d engine records 231g/km.
While the new X5 is more economical it still comes with increased power. Output from the 3.0d engine is 231hp, up six per cent compared to the previous model, and maximum torque is 520Nm, up four per cent. This peak torque is available from 2,000 to 2 ,750rpm offering near instantaneous reactions for swift yet refined motoring. Such an advanced engine powers the BMW X5 3.0d from zero to 62mph in 8.3 seconds before going on to a top speed of 134mph (130mph for a non-Dynamic Package equipped model).
Based on the world’s lightest production six-cylinder petrol engine, the BMW X5 3.0si comes equipped with BMW’s patented Double VANOS and VALVETRONIC variable valve technologies for high performance, yet economical, motoring. Put simply, Double VANOS determines when the engine’s valves open, while VALVETRONIC determines by how much. The net effect of both systems is that the engine is always operating at its optimum efficiency with only the exact amount of fuel needed being used. This is why the X5 3.0si has a combined fuel consumption of 25.9mpg (an 18 per cent improvement compared to the previous X5 3.0i) and an emissions figure of 260g/km, but still delivers maximum driver enjoyment.
Developing 272hp at 6,650rpm, the high-revving nature of the engine and its sonorous exhaust note set it apart from the competition. Peak torque of 315Nm is attained at 2,750rpm for in-gear responsiveness, with zero to 62mph dispatched in 8.1 seconds. Top speed for the new BMW X5 3.0si is140mph (when fitted with the Dynamic Package).
Representing the flagship of the range, the BMW X5 4.8i with its 355hp engine is faster from zero to 62mph and has a higher top speed than the supercharged Range Rover Sport or a Mercedes Benz ML500 Sport. The 4,799cc V8 powers the car to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds before going on to a top speed of 150mph (when fitted with the Dynamic Package). Despite such scintillating performance, fuel consumption is a respectable 22.6mpg on the combined cycle and emissions are 299g/km.
The new BMW X5 comes with an all-new faster-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox now features a new torque converter with enhanced software resulting in gearshift times up to 50 per cent quicker compared with the previous automatic gearbox. A new design of gearstick also creates more space on the centre console for additional storage space and cupholders. The use of an electronic parking brake in place of a conventional handbrake aids ergonomics further.
The BMW X5 offers unsurpassed safety credentials and on-road ability. Not only does its intelligent xDrive four-wheel drive system transfer power between front and rear wheels depending on available grip for optimum handling, but it can now be specified with Adaptive Drive and Active Steering – two advanced systems never offered before on a BMW X model.
Adaptive Drive uses active hydraulic anti-roll bars to counteract the cornering forces of the car to keep the body from leaning too heavily and unsettling the occupants. In addition to this Adaptive Drive incorporates an Electronic Damper Control system that uses sensors to continuously adjust the damper setting for optimum comfort.
Active Steering uses an electronically operated planetary gear intersecting the steering shaft that adds more lock than inputted by the driver at slow speeds to make parking effortless. When driving at speed the opposite occurs for a smoother, more composed ride.
The BMW X5 can be specified with Head-up Display – a first for a Sports Activity Vehicle or SUV. For enhanced safety the system projects speed, navigation and check control messages into the line of sight of the driver. Such a system allows the driver to keep his eyes on the road ahead while still being made aware of important instructions.
A further safety benefit is the fitting of Run-flat tyres – again a first for an SAV or SUV. Run-flat tyres allow a driver to continue his or her journey in the event of a puncture for up to 90 miles at speeds of 50mph. Run-flat tyres also provide the best stability in the event of a blowout. The BMW X5 comes fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels and Run-flat tyres as standard with optional 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels offered.
The latest in traction control technology, Dynamic Stability Control+, is also standard on the new X5. DSC+ comes with four unique functions for added safety and comfort. Brake Pre-tensioning shortens stopping distances during an emergency stop by priming the brakes should it detect the driver lifting off the accelerator sharply in reaction to an incident ahead. Brake Drying improves braking performance in the wet by periodically applying the brake pads to scrub away the film of water that can build up on the brake discs. Hill Start Assistant allows a car to pull away smoothly on a steep gradient without rolling backwards, courtesy of the brakes being held for the short time it takes the driver to apply the accelerator after releasing the foot or handbrake. Brake Fade Compensation applies additional braking without any extra effort from the driver should sensors detect that the brake pads are starting to lose ‘bite’ due to heat build up.
The driver of a BMW X5 will now also be able to select the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) function of DSC+. DTC allows for a greater degree of wheel slip for more spirited driving without the main traction control system safety net intervening. This option can be selected via a button on the centre console.
In a first for a BMW, the new X5 can be specified with an optional third row of seats allowing up to seven occupants to be transported in comfort. An increase of 19cms in overall body length and an increase in body width of 6cms, combined with innovative design, has made it possible to introduce a brace of seats in the rear, while still retaining luggage space. However, unlike many competitors even with all seven seats in place there is still 200 litres of boot space. The two extra seats, complete with three-point seatbelts and head restraints, are stowed under the boot floor when not in use. BMW X5 owners who do not specify the third row of seats benefit instead from an additional 90-litre storage compartment situated below the boot floor.
Whatever seating combination an owner chooses, the new BMW X5 is capable of taking most payloads. In a standard five-seat configuration the boot measures 620 litres – up 155 litres compared to the outgoing X5. For those looking to move sizeable objects, luggage capacity increases to 1,750 litres with all the rear seats stowed – a figure greater than that of any other BMW.
While being one of the most practical cars BMW has ever made, the new X5 still has a luxurious interior feel and a dynamic and sporty exterior shape. A drag coefficient as low as 0.33 places the BMW X5 at the top of its segment as the most aerodynamically efficient large SAV or SUV. This low figure is partly achieved by a rear tailgate that incorporates a roof spoiler and a near flat underbody to aid airflow. Nine exterior colours are offered initially alongside four levels of trim and seven upholstery colours to allow owners to personalise their X5s.
Despite the larger dimensions of the new X5 over the former model, BMW’s engineers and designers have succeeded in keeping the weight of the new BMW X5 almost unchanged, making the body even stiffer in the process.
To provide additional space and extra solidity without a significant increase in weight, the engineers have concentrated consistently on intelligent lightweight technology.
Both the choice of materials and the arrangement and geometry of the support bars, arms and reinforcement members are based on an overall concept designed for maximum safety in a crash combined with superior agility. Torsional stiffness versus the former model is up approximately 15 per cent from 23,500 to 27,000 Nm/degree.
The result of this particular design and configuration is borne out clearly by the significantly enhanced lightweight quality. This criterion describes torsional stiffness relative to the ground area (wheel contact points) as well as the weight of the vehicle and clearly expresses the particular quality of the new BMW X5 as a vehicle which, taking its body dimensions into account, offers the highest standard of solidity and agility currently possible.
Even the optionally available extra-large panorama glass roof does not have any noticeable effects on the stiffness of the overall bodyshell.
Stiffness at the front is optimised without an increase in weight by low-lying support arms around the wheel arches curving in towards the middle of the vehicle and providing a firm connection to the engine supports. Around the C-pillars a fully-closed torsion ring also serves to enhance body stiffness.
Body stiffness is further increased by wedges on the rear lid at medium height on the two D-pillars when closed. Contact between the wedge elements and the surrounds is ensured by way of the soft close function of the rear lid, and the improvement of stiffness at the rear is quite substantial. Indeed, to achieve the same effect any other way, the engineers and body designers would have required additional metal sheet components weighing approximately 6 kg.
High- and ultra-high-strength steel is used above all at the rear end of the new BMW X5 in order to achieve optimum stiffness and load resistance in a rear-end collision despite minimum use of material. At the front, in turn, use of a cast aluminium spring support serves to reduce weight while optimising stiffness at the same time.
The design and configuration of the front side panels and their modular supports made of plastic also serves to achieve several development targets all in one: Apart from lower weight and greater freedom in design, one of these targets is also all-round protection of pedestrians.
To optimise passive safety to the highest standard, the design and construction engineers focused from the start in developing the body-in-white of the new BMW X5 on maximum stability of the passenger cell. Forces acting on the vehicle in the event of an accident are passed on via the engine supports and chassis along various load paths, preventing extreme loads on any individual bearing structures.
Given its body structure and wide range of safety features, the new BMW X5 naturally offers all the prerequisites for fulfilling all crash tests relevant the world over. In creating the overall concept of passive and active safety, the engineers have also carefully considered the latest results in BMW accident research, giving the new X5 not only frontal and hip/thorax airbags, but also curtain/head airbags at the side as standard features. These airbags inflate out of the A-pillar covers and roof lining to protect the occupants in the first two rows reliably from injury.
The new BMW X5 is equipped with three-point inertia-reel belts on all seats. These restraint systems come with belt force limiters and additionally with a belt latch tensioner on the front seats. And ISOFIX child seat fastenings are featured as standard on the second row of seats.
In the event of an impending rollover, rollover sensors in the new BMW X5 activate the curtain airbags and belt latch tensioners. Networked with DSC Dynamic Stability Control, these sensors guarantee early and appropriate operation of the system. And to prevent collisions from the rear, the new X5, like other BMW models, is equipped with a two-stage adaptive brake display.
Whenever the driver applies the brakes particularly hard, this enlarges the size of the brake lights, creating a clear signal for motorists following from behind to brake hard as well.
The driver’s seat at the wheel of the new BMW X5 is conceived and designed for superior motoring in a powerful, dynamic and truly versatile vehicle. The higher, commanding seating position and the arrangement of the instrument panel inclined slightly towards the driver convey the impression of unrestricted control of the vehicle. All functions and displays are absolutely clear and easy-to-read also by the front passenger in the comfort zone in the middle of the dashboard. The Control Display for the BMW iDrive operating system housed on the instrument panel at the same level as the circular instruments is directly in the line of vision of both the driver and front passenger.
Slender design and the harmonious transitions extending into the door linings give the instrument panel powerful and elegant flair all in one. Interacting with the load-bearing element of the centre console extending down to the bottom, the instrument panel would appear to be hovering freely in space.
Apart from this sophisticated design, high-quality materials, tasteful colour combinations, comfortable seats and padded armrests ensure a truly stylish ambience. The generous space available, a wide range of storage boxes and compartments, and perfect finish all reflect the typical character of an outstanding and versatile Sports Activity Vehicle.
The interior of the new BMW X5 combines the exclusive style of a luxury performance saloon with the variability and function of a modern SAV. Five trim variants, six trim colours and trim strips in five different versions, combined with nine exterior paintwork colours, offer a wide range of options in personalising the new BMW X5 to the customer’s taste. Galvanised trim strips in Pearl Gloss chrome, finally, highlight the value and elegance of the new X5 in combination with the trim panels.
To control the navigation, air conditioning, entertainment and communication functions, the new BMW X5 also features BMW’s innovative iDrive control and operation concept. Comfort and communication settings are adjusted by turning, pushing and pressing the iDrive control on the centre console, with the functions selected and adjustment options being presented on the Control Display.
The new anti-dazzle monitor automatically adjusting in brightness to ambient light conditions is positioned in perfect ergonomic arrangement in the instrument panel, enabling the driver to read the information displayed at any time without turning his head and only briefly taking his eyes off the road.
In addition, the driver has eight buttons available for selecting favourite functions to further facilitate control operations. Pressing a button once, as an example, the driver is able to retrieve frequently dialled telephone numbers, select a frequent navigation destination, or tune to a radio station of their choice.
As an option, information relevant to the driver may also be presented on the Head-Up Display which is unique in the SAV segment, which involves data being projected on the windscreen. The driver therefore has road speed, navigation instructions, speed control data and warnings provided by BMW Check/Control systems in their line of vision at all times when selected.
In conjunction with Bi-Xenon headlights available as an option, the new BMW X5 offers an attractive and highly practical daytime headlight function by means of the light rings in the dual circular headlights. In this case the wings on the two inner headlights emit particularly intense and bright light approximately 100 times brighter than regular parking lights and thus improving visibility of the car accordingly also at a greater distance.
This also makes the car clearly recognisable at first sight as a BMW, due to the typical corona light effect. And compared with standard low-beam headlights, energy consumption is reduced by more than 50 per cent.
High Beam Assist is also available as an option on the new BMW X5 ensuring extra comfort when driving at night. This system switches the lights automatically back to the low beam as soon as another vehicle comes the other way or if the distance to a vehicle ahead drops below a certain limit.
A further feature in this case is that the fog lamps take on the additional function of turning lights: Each time the driver turns in another direction, the light beam for the fog lamps is guided to the side by a reflector, clearly illuminating the road ahead in the new direction the driver is taking.
Yet another particularly attractive option available on the new BMW X5 is Cruise Control with brake function. It acts on the engine management, the gear selected, and the brakes in order to precisely keep the speed set by the driver in advance. Constantly registering the car’s lateral acceleration, Cruise Control with brake function also recognises the risk of safety and comfort impairment in bends, reducing the speed of the car accordingly. And to keep the vehicle at the right speed when driving downhill, also when towing a trailer, the system will intervene in the brakes if required.
Sophisticated navigation and audio systems further enhance the driver’s and passengers’ travelling comfort in the new BMW X5. A DVD video system for the second row of seats, a CD- or DVD-changer housed in the glove compartment as well as an innovative multi-channel audio system are among the highlights offered in terms of mobile entertainment.
Even the standard version of the audio system comes with six loudspeakers, BMW’s HiFi system Professional specially conceived for playing back multi-channel audio sources, comprising no less than 16 loudspeakers. Thanks to the AUX-IN socket featured as standard, music from external audio sources such as an MP3 player may also be played through the loudspeakers in the car.
Supplementing PDC Park Distance Control, the new BMW X5 is available with a backup camera, a video system facilitating parking manoeuvres especially in confined areas or places with poor visibility.
To activate the backup camera, all the driver has to do is press a button or shift to reverse (in which case the system is activated automatically together with PDC Park Distance Control).
In addition to presenting a wide-angle colour video image on the central Control Display in an optimised perspective, the backup camera offers a number of other functions. These include interactive track lines on the screen helping the user find the ideal approach when manoeuvring or parking. Another new function is to mark obstacles detected by PDC in colour in the true-to-life camera image in the form of a graph with a three-dimensional effect made possible through the use of ultrasound sensors.
The camera image may furthermore be enlarged to cover the full surface of the screen, being automatically panned as a function of speed.
To offer further support when hooking up a trailer, the camera even has a zoom function with a further interactive graphic display allowing the driver to connect the towbar without the slightest problem. And last but not least, the camera lens is automatically heated in cold temperatures to keep it free of snow and ice.
Innovative technology, a premium ambience of the same quality as in a luxury performance saloon, powerful elegance in body design and superb driving dynamics make the new BMW X5 a genuine exception in its segment. The new model therefore continues the tradition of its predecessor, the first Sports Activity Vehicle in the world setting the foundation for a brand-new class of vehicles.
The engineers and development specialists creating the new BMW X5 have succeeded once again in developing a truly unique vehicle for the market. In a segment now subject to fierce competition, the new BMW X5 sets the standard yet again in driving dynamics and agility.
No other vehicle combines the qualities so typical of a BMW with the thrilling features of a truly versatile SAV full of style and presence at all times.
Given all these qualities, the new BMW X5 meets all the demands and requirements of the discerning motorist who, through the choice of his or her vehicle, wishes to express their personal and independent lifestyle and at the same time enjoy a new driving experience in a new dimension.View gallery - 6 images