The new BMW 4.4i V8 engine features VALVETRONIC inlet control and Bi-Vanos valve timing and is mated to a new six-speed automatic gearbox with gear ratios tailored for the new X5. This combination has already set new standards of performance and refinement in the new BMW 7 Series. Developing 320 bhp (an increase of 34 bhp over the outgoing model), the X5 4.4i accelerates from 0 - 62 mph in only 7.0 seconds (previously 7.5 seconds) before reaching a top speed of 149 mph (up from 143 mph) in its Sport guise.
With its combination of performance and economy, diesel power has proved a popular option: in fact it is the best-selling model in the UK. The new BMW X5 3.0d features the second-generation common rail diesel engine, producing 218 bhp (previously 184 bhp) and a huge 500 Nm of torque (up from 410 Nm). From standstill, 62 mph is reached in 8.3 seconds (1.8 seconds faster than its predecessor) whilst still delivering 32.8 mpg on the combined cycle. Top speed is 130 mph (up from 124 mph), helped by the new six-speed manual gearbox featured as standard.
xDrive - action is better than reaction
BMW's new xDrive system enables the power and torque increases to be converted into usable traction in all driving situations. This completely new, intelligent four-wheel drive system, announced recently on the forthcoming X3, constantly varies drive between the front and rear axles, depending upon the traction requirements.
Using information from the wheel sensors and data collected from the DSC stability system, including the yaw rate and steering angle, xDrive predicts any loss of traction or tyre slippage and reacts in a few milliseconds. A mid-mounted, electrically controlled multi-disc clutch is used to distribute drive constantly between the front and rear wheels, varying the torque delivery to the wheels which most require it. This could be in a dynamic driving situation or, off-road, on a slippery surface or incline.
This contrasts with the four-wheel drive system of the outgoing BMW X5 which works on the basis of a fixed front-to-rear drive ratio, and uses only DSC traction control for critical interventions
Subtly revised styling
Clothing the new drive train is a discreetly revised front and rear profile. The front of the car has been revised up to the A pillar, most noticeably the new headlamp units, with sweeping contours and integrated indicator lamps, that match the design language of other recently introduced BMW models. Also, in common with other models, illuminated headlamp rings form the sidelights on the new car.
The bonnet has been redesigned, with sharper edges that run into the trademark double kidney grilles, that have also been reshaped and enlarged, lending a greater presence to the front view.
Also revised is the front valance section, with redesigned fog lamps and larger air intakes now divided in the centre by a continuation of the bonnet's strong lines. At the rear, new transparent glass lamps complement the revisions to the front.
Safety excels - X5 gets five stars
The addition of the xDrive four-wheel drive system raises the levels of active safety on the new BMW X5 to a new high, as many more driving situations can now be taken in its stride. Passive safety has also received a boost, as the X5 was recently awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP tests.
A number of BMW's new safety features are available on the new BMW X5. For the first time, Adaptive Headlamps come as an option, illuminating the road ahead in the direction that the car is travelling, rather than the direction the car is pointing. When twinned with Bi-Xenon headlamps and the car's ride height, unrivalled road illumination is guaranteed. Fitted as standard on all eight-cylinder models, Bi-Xenon headlamps are available as an option on six-cylinder vehicles.
Greater levels of safety are also available when towing, thanks to BMW's new Trailer Stabilisation Control. As a function of the familiar Dynamic Stability Control system, sensors monitor and measure any dangerous pendulum motion from a swaying trailer and sensitively apply the brakes, automatically returning the trailer to a more stable condition.
Amongst the X5's accolades, the car has been awarded What Car's Best 4x4 title in 2001 and 2002. In 2002, 6,665 X5 models were delivered to customers, of which 3,193 were 3.0 diesel, 2,170 3.0 petrol and 969 4.4i V8 cars.
(July 21, 2003)