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A huge hello from the land where comic book hero Tintin’s famous adversary Rastapopulous probably laid out his plans to dominate the world. I'm here in Greece to unravel a far more interesting plot than world domination. This time, it’s the mighty BMW that’s doing the plotting and their tool for the job is the new BMW X5.
There is virtually no difference in looks between the X5 petrol and diesel. So, I picked the lusty 4.8 litre petrol first. The first big change for me is the 6P autobox, which comes with a joystick type electronic shifter and no mechanical linkage to the gearbox.
This means that if you want to go into parking mode, you just have to press the P button, if you want to drive off, just thump the starter, press the clutch button, pull it back once and you are soon in the drive mode and good to go.
Squint tight headlamps, a moustache shaped air lamp section and a scooped out bonnet, gives the X5 some chest-thumping attitude. The new X5 can hold its own in the SUV brotherhood and is a new chapter in the BMW design. With 350 very eager horses dragging along the 2 tonne plus structure, it makes for slipshod handling. But the towering X5 drove us as flat as a go-cart. Add to that, a well rated variable rear wheel steering and chucking this monolith around corners brings out a smile.
The car is so controlled on aggressive roads, it just feels phenomenal. The X drive system, which transfers power to the front and rear wheels, seems to be working brilliantly, with under steer and over steer. The new stiffer suspension, the tires wrapped on 18 inch rims and the sporty set up combined together, lets you feel every ripple on the road at low speeds. But at higher speeds, the X5 adapts and glosses over anything bigger than a small pothole.
Impressed with the petrol, I headed back to pick up the diesel version. Having somewhat quenched my pangs with the X5 experience, I now took some time to take in the new design. The new X5 has been stretched by 19 cms and broadened by 6 cms to fit the mould of the of the new age auto giant.
But a strict diet plan has helped it to keep its weight almost the same. So, the passengers at the rear can expect a comfy bench and the third row seats to strap the young brats into. This makes the X5 a far more practical proposition for large wealthy Indian families and the Yanky favourite with the split tailgate is meant just for bags and picnic lunches.
Contd. on Pg 2....