BMW breaks through

Un­til the X5, not many thought it could be done, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars 2000- 2003 Bmw X5 -

THE surge in pop­u­lar­ity of the sports util­ity ve­hi­cle meant that ev­ery maker was even­tu­ally go­ing to get in­volved in the fast-grow­ing mar­ket seg­ment.

It’s been the sales phe­nom­e­non of the new cen­tury, and the mo­men­tum does not look like slow­ing.

Four-wheel-drive wag­ons have long been pop­u­lar for bush driv­ing, but the de­vel­op­ment of elec­tron­ics meant they can be re­fined for city use.

The BMW X5 was one of the first of the new-breed lux­ury SUVs and was re­ceived with rave re­views, even by those who doubted any man­u­fac­turer could build a heavy car with road man­ners.

MODEL WATCH

THE SUV has been an at­tempt to blend bush free­dom with town rules — tam­ing of the old bush-basher and giv­ing it the re­fine­ment to cope with town traf­fic.

BMW got close with the X5, not sur­pris­ing given the sport­ing na­ture of the brand.

There’s no es­cap­ing the body roll and sway that came with the ter­ri­tory, but the 3.0-litre V6 model set a stan­dard with a bal­ance and re­spon­sive­ness be­ly­ing its mass and phys­i­cal di­men­sions.

The X5 be­gan life as a 4.4-litre V8 in 2000. It had dou­ble over­head camshafts and 32 valves and put out 210kW and 440Nm. It was joined a few months later by a 3.0-litre dou­ble-over­head-camshaft V6 that pro­duced 170kW and 300Nm.

Fi­nally, in 2002 they were joined by a 4.6-litre V8 that de­liv­ered 255kW and 480Nm.

All of that was di­rected through a five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion to all four wheels as re­quired.

The X5 han­dled slip­pery roads with ease, and stood up be­yond the bi­tu­men pro­vided the go­ing wasn’t too tough.

The X5 was equipped with ev­ery­thing that opened and shut, so you wouldn’t be left want­ing for any­thing.

ON THE LOT

THE X5 doesn’t come cheap. It’s got a blue-and-white spin­ner badge on the bon­net, so it’s al­ways go­ing to have a high price on the sticker. Pay $ 38,000-$ 48,000 for a V6, $44,000-$62,000 for a small V8 and $68,000-$78,000 for a big-bore V8.

IN THE SHOP

EVEN BMWs break down on oc­ca­sion, so don’t buy an X5 think­ing you’ve got some­thing that’s bul­let­proof. That said, they’re good with few flaws. If you need to do re­pairs, be pre­pared for a big bill for parts be­cause they are ex­pen­sive. En­sure your car has a good ser­vice record.

CRUNCH TIME

MASS will al­ways win out when it comes to the crunch and the X5 is well en­dowed in that area. But it han­dles, steers and stops well, so it has good dy­namic safety.

It also has all of the safety items you would ex­pect. Look for an ar­ray of airbags on all sides.

AT THE PUMP

PUSH­ING a ve­hi­cle weigh­ing about two tonnes around town isn’t cheap, so don’t ex­pect mir­a­cles from the X5. The 3.0-litre V6 should re­turn 11-13 litres for 100km, the V8s one or two more if you can con­trol your right foot.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

IF YOUR bud­get al­lows, the X5 sets the stan­dard for lux­ury SUVs.

Bounc­ing the op­po­si­tion: the BMW X5 broke all the SUV rules when it was re­leased, and it’s still in a class of its own.

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