It will be BMW?s first ever car to be made available with the option of a third-row seating, to welcome up to seven passengers.
That's the all-new, second-generation BMW X5 SUV, to be launched soon in Europe.
SUV or... SAV for Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW called it since its launched its first generation in 1999, lifting its image - and specifications - above the more utilitarian attribute of Sports Utility Vehicles.
Selling more than 580,000 units of the first X5 generation was a respectable figure for a luxury priced SUV, considering in particular that it was the first step for the Bavarian brand into the SUV market as such. Having well over half a million people trust the brand with its first step in SUV land, especially in the elitist premium price brackets, can be safely qualified as an achievement.
The all-new X5 will be available then in standard 5- or optional 7-passenger configurations, and in any case, with more power, lower emissions, better fuel consumption, an all-new six-speed automatic gearbox and several new technologies in the segment such as the head-up display, run-flat tyres, adaptive drive suspension management.
Back in 1999, t he first generation BMW X5 was the first SUV-type vehicle to offer a genuinely sporty car-like drive, thanks to its crossover structure with a unitary body construction rather than a traditional truck-like body-on-frame architecture.
Hence the German automaker Sports Activity Vehicle phrase to underline its dynamic attributes over the rather utilitarian construction of many traditional SUVs.
Seven years after its 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show debut, the all-new X5 mission will be to reconfirm, once again, its premium status with a new list of firsts for its category. The Bavarian carmaker describes it new X5 as the world?s first SAV (OK, we'll read it as crossover SUV) to be offered with Head-up Display, an active suspension system - BMW?s adaptive drive package, active steering and run-flat tyres.
For a brand often described as the ultimate driving machine, description starts from... the engines, naturally. And the new BMW X5 is powered by the latest, most advanced engines.
A choice of three units will offered at launch, two petrol and one diesel, all of which feature increased power compared to the engines in the outgoing model, while also posting more economical consumption figures and reduced emissions.
In the UK, the biggest seller is expected to be a 2,993cc six-cylinder diesel but, for those preferring petrol power, the X5 can also be specified with a 2,996cc six-cylinder or a 4,799cc V8 engine.
Starting from the most frugal between the three choices, the BMW X5 3.0d uses a diesel 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 25kgs 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 32.5 UK mpg (27.08 US mpg), or 8.69 litres per 100 km, while also emitting eight per cent less CO2. The 3.0d engine records 231g/km.
Although more economical, the new BMW X5 3.0d comes with increased power. Output is 231hp, up six per cent compared to the previous model, and maximum torque is 520 Nm, up four per cent. Peak torque is available from 2,000 to 2 ,750 rpm offering near swift yet refined motoring, powering the BMW X5 3.0d from zero to 62mph (100 km/h) in 8.3 seconds before reaching a top speed of 134 mph (215 km/h), or 130 mph (209 km/h) for the non-Dynamic Package equipped model.
Based on the world?s lightest production inline six-cylinder petrol engine, the BMW X5 3.0si comes equipped with BMW?s Double Vanos and Valvetronic variable valve technologies for high performance, yet economical motoring. In simple terms, Double Vanos determines when the engine?s valves open (timing), while Valvetronic determines by how much they should open (lift).
The net effect of both systems is that the engine is operating constantly at its optimum efficiency with only the exact amount of fuel needed being used. Hence, the X5 3.0si has a combined fuel consumption of 25.9 UK mpg (21.58 US mpg), or 10.9 litres per100 km, an 18 per cent improvement compared to the previous X5 3.0i, and an emissions figure of 260g/km.
Developing 272hp at 6,650rpm, the engine peak torque of 315 Nm is reached at 2,750rpm, with zero to 62mph dispatched in 8.1 seconds. Top speed for the new BMW X5 3.0si is 140mph (225 km/h) when fitted with the Dynamic Package, or 130mph (210 km/h) without it.
With its 355hp engine, the BMW X5 4.8i is the flagship of the range. It is faster from zero to 62mph and has a higher top speed than the supercharged Range Rover Sport or a Mercedes Benz ML500 Sport. The 4,799cc V8 powers the X5 4.8i to 62mph in 6.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 150mph (241 km/h), when fitted with the Dynamic Package. With this performance, fuel consumption is 22.6 UK mpg (18.83 US mpg), or 12.5 litres / 100 km on the combined cycle and emissions are 299g/km.
The new BMW X5 comes with an all-new faster-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. It features a new torque converter with enhanced software resulting in gearshift times up to 50 per cent quicker than the previous automatic gearbox.
A new design of gearstick also creates more space on the centre console for additional storage space and cupholders, while the use of an electronic parking brake (EPB) in place of a conventional handbrake aids ergonomics further.
The BMW X5 intelligent xDrive four-wheel-drive system transfers power between front and rear wheels depending on available grip for optimum handling, and 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, the system incorporates an Electronic Damper Control system that uses sensors to continuously adjust the damper setting for the optimum comfort.
Active Steering - To make parking effortless at slow speeds, active steering uses an electronically operated planetary gear intersecting the steering shaft to add more lock than inputted by the driver. Steering becomes more direct. When driving at speed, the opposite occurs for a smoother, more composed ride.
The new BMW X5 can be optionally specified with Head-up Display ? a first for its category. For enhanced safety, the system projects speed, navigation and check control messages into the line of sight of the driver who can keep his /her eyes on the road ahead while still being made aware of important instructions.
Another safety benefit comes from the standard fitting (UK specs) of run-flat tyres ? again a first for an SAV or SUV. Run-flat tyres allow a driver to continue the journey in the event of a puncture for up to 90 miles (145 km) at speeds of 50mph (80 km/h).
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.
With the latest in traction control technology, Dynamic Stability Control+, comes also standard (UK specs), 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.
With the new X5, the driver will also be able to select the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) function of DSC+. DTC allows for a greater degree of wheel slip for more spirited driving without the main traction control system safety net intervening. This option can be selected via a button on the centre console.
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.
With all seven seats in place, there is 200 litres of boot space (half the average of a family car boot / trunk volume). The two extra seats, complete with three-point seat belts and head restraints, are stowed under the boot floor when not in use. BMW X5 owners who do not specify the third row of seats benefit instead from an additional 90-litre storage compartment situated below the boot floor.
In a standard five-seat configuration the boot measures 620 litres ? up 155 litres (33.33%) compared to the outgoing X5. For sizeable objects, luggage capacity increases to 1,750 litres with all the rear seats stowed - a figure greater than that of any other BMW.
While being one of the most practical cars BMW has ever made, the new X5 still has, as expected from the brand, with its premium prices too, a luxurious interior feel and a dynamic and sporty exterior shape.
A drag coefficient as low as 0.33 places the BMW X5 at the top of its segment as the most aerodynamically efficient large SUV. This low figure is partly achieved by a rear tailgate that incorporates a roof spoiler and a near flat underbody to aid airflow.
In the UK, nine exterior colours will be offered initially (from next spring) alongside four levels of trim and seven upholstery colours.
BMW?s iDrive control system also comes to the X5 for the first time. A new ?wave? style of dashboard houses the colour display while the iDrive controller sits on the centre console adjacent to the new style of gear selector. The controller is complemented by eight buttons integrated as system short cuts for ease of use.
Supplementing the standard fit front and rear Park Distance Control , X5 customers can optionally order a rear camera for added parking convenience. Automatically activated when the reverse gear is selected, the driver is presented with a wide-angle colour image on the iDrive display in the centre console.
Additional photos and specifications can be found with the article at:
Bechara Aboul-Nasr: Automotive editor and publisher of Motion Trends car magazine and media services. Based in Toulouse, France, since Oct. 2000. Previously, automotive editor of Al Hayat International daily newspaper in London, UK (1988-2000).