EXTREME VELOCITY
BMW X5

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BMW has sold over half a million X5's globally since its inception in 1999 and with the introduction of the 2007 model this trend will continue. Coming from such a successful pedigree the X5 has an assured look combining masculine lines with a sporty edge. The new X5 is taller (2 inches), longer (7.4 inches) and wider (2.3 inches) than its predecessors. The additional dimensions have not really altered the look significantly so don't be disappointed if your neighbour or colleague doesn't go “ga-ga” over your new and improved X5. Despite the insignificant change in its outward appearance, the additional space has been put to good use in the interior.

The test vehicle was an 8 cylinder V8, 4.8i producing a powerful 261 kW (355 bhp) with the capability to accelerate from 0-100 Km/H in 6.5 seconds. We would highly recommend it without hesitation - very responsive! For the new X5 the “S” in SUV should be underlined and bolded; the chassis is 15% stiffer than the original X5. There is also the addition of a double wishbone front axle with the result benefiting in handling and comfort. Together they provide the basis for a very agile vehicle. Although it doesn't look as rugged or “boxy” as the stereotyped off-road vehicles such as the Range Rover or Jeep, its dune-bashing performance is unsurprisingly impressive. Augmenting the new lighter and stiffer chassis is BMW's Adaptive Drive System.

Adaptive Drive allows the driver to hit the sports button and the chassis set-up will be stiffened to provide greater agility. By actively suppressing the vehicle's natural tendency to roll when cornering at speed, Adaptive Drive means excellent handling for the driver and noticeably higher levels of comfort for rear-seat passengers. This intelligent system uses its Dynamic Stability Control sensors to detect the early signs of instability and reacts instantly as needed. It distributes engine power flexibly and variably to each axle: the axle with the greatest traction receives the most power, delivering optimum road-holding, perfect performance on bends and excellent forward thrust. The system effectively means the X5 is a great sporty drive on the road and with a touch of a button a more than competent off-roader.

The interior is roomy with the front seats offering 2 inches of extra shoulder room and nearly an inch of additional legroom. The driver and front passenger also get treated to more comfortable 10-way power seats which can be optimally adjusted. The leather seats are also well contoured to acquire the most favourable seating postures.

Navigation and entertainment is once again mainly controlled by iDrive on the centre console. Of course similarly the buttons on the steering wheel will do the trick if you're not a fan of the dial/knob. The parking assistant not only comes in the form of a beep but a camera as well. Although this is very useful, we found our heads automatically turning to the rear when reversing (certainly a hard habit to break). But should you prefer looking at the monitor, the warning signs can easily be read and a perfect park is almost guaranteed.

The handbrake, however, might as well be called a “fingerbrake”. It is operated by pushing or pulling a small leverlike switch. Sometimes, this gives a somewhat strangely insecure feeling that the handbrake may not be on. It just needs some getting used to. As for the gear transmissions, the six-speed automatic Steptronic box with an electronic shifter enables the driver to select gears sequentially at slight touches. Hence tapping is the new shift movement. Unless you're familiar with it, you may end up selecting the “drive” or “reverse” a few times before getting them correct.

The standard in-dash CD player is hooked up to a 205-watt 12-speaker audio system and the CD changer is mounted inside the glove box (which was initially a mystery to open. Hint: Look for a button!). It may be a little cumbersome if you're the sort who stashes a lot of junk in the glove box. If that's the case, make sure you put in your favourite CDs with songs you won't tire off easily to reduce the change frequency! BMW makes such dynamic and secure cars with the users' safety and comfort in mind and it's no different with the X5. And at AED 325,000 we definitely think it's a fair price to pay for status as well as reliable performance. Perhaps that's why the X5 is so popular in Dubai. For almost every dozen SUV's you see on the road, you'd spot an X5.


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