After its original launch in 1999, the X5 has carved a permanent niche for the brand that has spawned many siblings such as the X3, X1 and X6. A new X5 was released in 2007 and now it’s time to follow the march of technology with new powertrains offering, in the main, improved economy.
The new X5 was released in 2007 and now it’s time to follow the march of technology with new powertrains offering, in the main, improved economy. The facelift is very mild with new foglamps and lower grille treatment with silver scuff plate plus new rear lighting including LEDs.
Concentrating on the economical diesels during the local media launch around George and Knysna, some details on the technology for starters: the variable-vane turbo 30d goes from 173 kW to 180 kW with improved fuel injection efficiency and the twin-turbo 40d is upped from 210 kW to 225 kW. Torque outputs are 540 N. at 1 750 r/min and 600 N.m at 1 500 r/min. The really important factor here is that fuel consumption overall is down by about 10 per cent which is no mean feat these days. Both diesels are similar sippers at 7,4 and 7,5 litres per 100 km for the 30d and 40d respectively on the combined Euro cycle. Helping this low consumption quest are oil and water pumps that operate on a need-to basis, not continuously and higher precision injection equipment using pressures of 1 800 bar for the 30d and 2 000 bar for the 40d. New ZF 8-speed gearboxes replace the old six-speed transmissions and are as smooth as you can get with seamless shifts – just as well with so many ratios.
18-inch wheels and run flat tyres are standard and you can order a space saver spare supplied at no extra cost if you are still nervous of being stranded. Note however, that if you choose the seven-seat variant you have no under-floor space for one.
BMW’s four-wheel xDrive system uses a multi-plate clutch to control power delivery between front and rear together with lots of electronics. On the many dusty gravel roads through the forests around Harkerville and Millwood, we can vouch for the intelligence of the traction control system. This would immediately pull the car back into line after the rear end stepped out around fast corners.
Ground clearance doesn’t look that great when eyeing out the car in front of you negotiating some middle-mannetjies but is, in fact, listed as 222 mm and we have measured a clearance of 235 mm with an unladen 50i so it’s actually pretty good for a vehicle not intended for very hectic mountain climbing. Another test in the extremely dusty conditions (due to poor rainfall in the region) was one of dust intrusion into the cabin. All the test units passed with flying colours.
The ride is as good as one would expect from a BMW and drivability is equivalent to that of BMW’s saloons and hatchbacks. A long list of options is available as always, probably not including blue lights though?
Basic prices range from R657 500 to R807 000 for the two petrol models excluding emissions tax with the two diesel version’s prices pegged at R666 000 and R752 500.The emissions tax penalty starts at R6412 for the 30d and rockets to R14 706 for the 50i.
See how the latest BMW X5 xDrive50i fares against the new Porsche Cayenne S in our comparative test in the October 2010 issue of car – out now!