BMW X5
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We have finally got our hands on the new installment of the E70 BMW X5 “Sports Activity Vehicle” for a drive on our local roads! BMW Malaysia offers three variants of the new X5 for the local market – a 3 litre petrol, a 3 litre turbodiesel and a mouth-watering 4.8 V8 petrol version. We had a go in the model which we think would attract more attention especially when fuel consumption is on everyone’s mind today – the 3.0d oil burner.

Read the review by Harvinder Singh Sidhu after the jump.

BMW X5
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Design

At first glance, you would straight away notice that the new X5 definitely looks so much better than the old one, which, to be honest; looked like it was designed 15 years ago. It looks really posh and aggressive at the same time which is very good news. The front is forward looking and at the back you will notice the typical BMW L-shaped rear lenses. Apart from that, it is 18.7 cm longer and 6.1 cm wider than its predecessor. The wheel base is also up by 11.3 cm. All in all, just like I mentioned earlier, it looks like a winner.

BMW X5
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Interior

As you open the door and get yourself onto the driver’s seat, you will definitely feel the roominess of the new X5, it has good leg and head clearance for both front and rear passengers. It’s just enormous in there. You will also find that the interior design is very elegant, giving justice to its exterior good looks. I did feel like I was in a RM 600,000.00 penthouse. There is a touch of refinement everywhere, from the wood finish on the dashboard, to all the practical compartments.

The second version of the iDrive system is very user friendly as well in terms of navigating the interface but can be abit annoying while you wait for the GPS navigation system to load stuff up thanks to its DVD-based storage. The Bluetooth hands-free system works great but trying to load my phone’s address book via Bluetooth resulted in a PC Suite error appearing on my Nokia, so that did not work.

The X5 has a huge trunk space as the rear seats are foldable. The X5 is basically a 5 seater, but you can opt for extra 2 seats at the back to turn it into a 5+2 seater, but, quite frankly they are so tiny it’s just ridiculous. If you expect your children to just stop aging at 7 years old, then its ok, for the rest you, the X5 should remain as a 5 seater.

BMW X5
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Engine & Transmission

Behind the wheel, the 3 litre turbo charged in line 6 power plant feels very smooth, responsive and has plenty of power to offer. The turbo boost as well is almost instantaneous. As you would know, turbo diesel engines have a huge amount of torque, well, its good to know this 3.0d X5 packs a total of 520 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm. Apart from good fuel consumption (about 9 litre for every 100km), the diesel motor is rather quiet, so most of time you will not notice that it’s a diesel under the hood. Overall, BMW hit a hole in one with this 3 litre turbo diesel, except for making my stomach sick from the constant feeling of an airplane taking off.

Transmission is pretty much the standard ZF 6 speed automatic with Steptronic with silky smooth shifts and kickdowns. However there is something interesting about this particular one, it uses a new shift by wire gear stick. Say goodbye to conventional automatic gear sticks! To shift gears (from Neutral to Reverse) you just need to nudge (within 1 cm) the gear stick to the front or back and to get it to park is the easiest thing to do; just hit Park button on the top part of gear stick.

The only thing I got to complain is the fact that this all wheel drive car (powered by BMW’s xDrive system) does not have a low ratio gearbox, which is bad news for adventure junkies out there, you just have to look elsewhere.

BMW X5
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Ride & Handling

The handling is very good for such a huge vehicle I must say. You don’t feel like you are behind the wheel of a 3 ton lorry. Other than the feeling of being slightly higher on the road, you will surely feel you are driving a rather sporty car with reasonable handling. It is very sharp plus the steering wheel feels quite light as well. It’s simply amazing and I keep hearing people say the X6 is even better than this so it’s made me extremely curious to find out what the X6 drives like. The xDrive system and all other electronic aids work really well to keep you out of trouble.

In terms of ride quality, it is a bit on the stiff side but forgivable since it is a car with very good handling characteristics. It is also slightly bumpy on high speeds (don’t forget to thank Malaysian roads) but you would hardly notice it. The X5 felt very stable when I was cruising on the motor way at about 160 – 170 km/h.

BMW X5
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Verdict

The new X5 is generally true to its Bavarian form; a well built vehicle. I like the way its looks, that way it makes me feel when I am in it, and when I am driving it.

However once you complete your enjoyable drive and park it in your nice bungalow’s porch (you’d better have a nice home before you spend so much cash on this monster!), step out of the car and you’ll find that your serene garden now reeks of the terrible smell of diesel, like a lorry just left the area. This is more of our diesel quality than a problem of the X5 but its still an issue with diesel-powered luxury cars here in Malaysia.

The other thing is the fact that you can’t have off road driving in mind when you think about the X5. The only “off road” thing about it is that it is all wheel drive, and the Auto Descend (via a switch on the dash board) feature. The X5 is not even high enough for off road driving. For that, you may want to check out the Mercedes M-Class, the VW Touareg and the best 4X4 there is, the Land Rover.

BMW X5
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The CBU X5 3.0d is on sale for RM 568,800 (without insurance) with 3 years free service. So would I buy it? Well, if I want to keep it on the tarmac, I would. Before I end another thing which interests me is that whenever I drove the X5 on the fastest lane of the free way, cars in front tend to move on their own whenever I want to overtake. No need for flashing the highbeams. Its sheer size I suppose?

Related Stories:
2007 BMW X5 4.8i and 3.0d Test Drive in Athens
E70 BMW X5 3.0si, 3.0d and 4.8i launched in Malaysia
New 2007 BMW X5 – details and specifications
New 2007 BMW X5 4.8i M Sport

BMW X5
Click to enlarge

BMW X5
Click to enlarge