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Seven years after its 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show debut, the arrival of an all-new BMW X5 SAV, with an entry level price-tag of €78,750 has been announced. It aims to redefine its class courtesy of an enviable list of firsts. The new BMW X5 is the world’s first SAV to be offered with Head-up Display and an active suspension system – BMW’s Adaptive Drive package. It is the first SAV that can be specified with Active Steering for unsurpassed manoeuvrability and the first to be shod with Run-flat tyres for added safety. It is also the first BMW to offer a third row of seats for added practicality.
The new BMW X5 is powered by the latest, most advanced engines. A choice of three units is offered, all of which feature increased power compared to the engines in the outgoing model, while also posting more economical consumption figures and reduced emissions. There is the very popular 2,993cc six-cylinder diesel and for those preferring the characteristics of petrol power, the X5 can also be specified with a 2,996cc six-cylinder or a 4,799cc V8 engine.
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.
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), but still delivers maximum driver enjoyment.
Representing the flagship of the range, the BMW X5 4.8i with its 355hp engine, which despite such scintillating performance, fuel consumption is a respectable 22.6mpg on the combined cycle. The new BMW X5 comes with an all-new faster-shifting six-speed automatic transmission as standard.
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.
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 BMW X5 has proved to be a huge global hit since it was launched in 1999 with more than 580,000 sold. In the UK its sales reached record levels each year. In 2001, the car’s first full year, BMW UK sold 5,650. In 2005 a record 10,808 X5s found customers in the UK. Prices for the new BMW X5 and details of the Dynamic Package will be revealed nearer to the spring 2007 UK market launch date.