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BMW X5 3.0d

6th Sep 2009 7:00 am

The X5's magical mix of driving pleasure and seven-seat practicality give it the edge

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  • Make : BMW
  • Model : X5

The BMW X5 looks rather sharp. Delicately styled, but hardly effete is what it is. The new car keeps the look of the old X5, but it’s a little too derivative, and some confuse the new car and the face-lifted earlier X5 quite easily.

The X5 looks imposing all right, and those three-dimensional headlights are just sensational. While it looks sharp and modern, the way the car has been styled makes it look a little too similar to the previous model.

This is the refreshed X5. Beyond the larger headlamps and sculpted bonnet, the biggest change is the X5's growth spurt, its overall lenght increasing by 187mm to 4854mm, wheelbase by 113mm and width by 17mm.

The X5 is built on a monocoque chassis. It does not have a dedicated 4WD transfer case as standard, relying instead on electronics and a full-time 4WD system to get it through the off-road sections. The X5 comes with double wishbone independent suspension up front and multi-link suspension at the rear, but misses out on adjustable suspension. But it comes shod with run-flat tyres.

The BMW’s cabin quality is fantastic. The dash is of high quality and there are genuinely no cheap plastic bits, the brushed metal, wood and leather are all of top quality and everything is solidly built. Of course, you do have a choice of customizing the interior trim and colours. The chunky steering wheel, the central console and the power controls all function superbly.

The 5-series-like ‘tap-for-shift’ gear selector is almost a work of art and the iDrive knob that controls the screen is superbly finished too. Front seat has proper bolstering and comfort is good. The X5’s rear seat is reasonably comfortable and is nice and supportive, but you feel a touch hemmed in and there is a relative lack of space. And the backrest is devoid of lateral support, so the seat is not supportive when the car is being cornered, but is great three abreast. It’s also got a third row of seats, which fold into the boot floor – they are quite spacious, but you sit knees up, which can get uncomfortable.

The X5's got a massive sunroof, but the solid cover keeps the heat out.

The old X5 set the benchmark for SUV agility and we expect this car to live up to its billing and reputation. Take off from rest and the heavy steering feel and sheer precision of the controls instantly tell you that little has changed. The weighty steering may not be traffic-friendly, but once congestion opens up, it is a treat. There is almost no slack in the steering and, even as you go faster, the feel and instant responses remain. And grip is insanely high as well, the X5 being able to hold onto speeds that few SUVs can attain while cornering. The brakes are phenomenal as well, but the much-heavier new car is not as agile as the lighter, earlier X5. BMW has made the car longer to accommodate the extra third-row seats and this, among other features, means the X5 feels a touch more ponderous. It feels taller and rolls more at the rear as you hurl it around corners, and this initially feels disconcerting. As you go harder, the car settles down after that initial bit of roll and you can really push this SUV’s limits more than you would believe. BMW has a solution for this called Adaptive Drive – basically active anti-roll bars that stop the car from rolling; like the system you get on the Porsche Cayenne. This, however, is an option that, along with the windscreen-mounted heads-up display and active steering, costs in the region of Rs 5 lakh. And even though the Q5 misses out on adjustable suspension, its ride will not give you any reason to complain. The damping is almost perfect for Indian roads and the high-profile rubber plays its part in further isolating you from road surfaces.

BMW X5 3.0d
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