Buying Guide Second Gen diesel BMW E70 X5 xDrive30d


History

The original X5, the E53, that started the whole soft-roader ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’ thing back in 1999 was starting to feel a little long in the tooth by the time the E70 arrived in 2007. BMW knew better than to upset the apple cart with the new car, however, so more or less all it did was increase the 4×4’s size; just about all the elements that had made the original so successful were retained.

Power and torque for the best-selling 30d model were 235hp and 383lb ft and that was good enough for a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds, a claimed combined economy figure of 32.5mpg and emissions of 231g/km.

When it went on sale in April 2007 the 30d started at £40,085, approximately seven per cent up on the outgoing 3.0d E53 version. BMW reckoned it was better spec’d than the previous incarnation – an auto was standard but surprisingly leather upholstery was not. As you’d expect there were a plethora of fancy options and most X5s had several of these plucked from the list. Speccing sat nav and bigger alloys was a popular choice.

Later in 2007 the M Sport model arrived and Nevada leather was standard on this model, along with the normal styling upgrades associated with this trim level. There was some tweaking with the economy and emissions figures, too, and from 2008 economy had improved to 34.9mpg and emissions had dropped to 214g/km to the benefit of VED.

By the time the face-lift came along two years later (in 2010) the turbocharged Six had seen power swell to 245hp, economy improve to 38.2mpg and emissions drop to 195g/km.

At the end of 2013 the E70 was replaced by the all-new F15 X5.


Why should you buy one?

It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but if you like a high, commanding driving position, a lusty diesel straight-six engine, plenty of toys and space for the family then there’s no getting away from the fact that the X5 ticks an awful lot of boxes. It’s not the fastest BMW by a long chalk, nor the roomiest – despite its exterior dimensions it’s not what you would describe as hugely commodious inside – and it will cost more to run than an equivalent 530d Touring, but there’s still something immensely likable about the X5.

The sensible engine choice is the 30d, which is plenty powerful enough to lug the car’s two-ton bulk around yet still economical enough to get well into the 30s on a run. It’s perhaps not a car you’ll necessarily fall in love with but those who do take the plunge get bitten by the bug and tend to own several – and that’s always a good indication of a decent machine.


Running costs

If you haven’t been put off by the potential list of faults then you’ll probably now want to know about day-to-day costs. The earliest cars are lumbered with a £490 per year VED rate thanks to their 231g/km emissions but later models cost only £290. And with the cleanest post-face-lift cars you’re looking at £265 a year. Checking which is which is simply a case of popping a registration number in the DVLA’s website. Servicing is more than for an equivalent 5 Series, but not by that much. Expect an oil service from BMW for £152, an oil service and microfilter for £265, and if the air and fuel filters need doing at the same time that cost will rise to £470. A brake fluid change should cost £62 and a vehicle check £84. Front pads and rear pads weigh in at around the £270 mark either end.

Pay attention to the tyres fitted to any potential purchase. All X5 30ds came with run-flats and a set of 18s will cost around £560, a set of 19s £720, and 20s are getting on for £900. These prices are for quality replacement run-flats.


What goes wrong?

X5s seems to fall into one of two categories: those that are virtually trouble-free; and those that have a host of problems! Sorting out which is which can be tricky, and given the way some X5s seem capable of generating some big bills we’d advise buying one with a warranty if at all possible, or putting a warranty on one that’s been privately purchased.

Most of the faults tended to plague earlier vehicles, but many of these will have been solved by previous owners. Transmissions are not quite as durable as you might expect from a BMW. We’ve heard of cars requiring completely new gearboxes and others that have required several software updates to cure poor gear change quality. The xDrive and DSC systems have also been known to fail and, as you’d expect, these are costly items, usually requiring new control units rather than actual hardware changes. These cars also seem very sensitive to the tyres they’re running, too. They don’t like it when tyres fitted to the same axle are of a different brand or have significantly different tread depths, and this can bring up all sorts of transmission and xDrive faults.

As you’d expect with a big, heavy beast, suspension and brakes can take quite a hammering so expect discs every second set of pads and suspension components to need frequent refreshes. Be wary of cars with adaptive suspension as those electronic dampers aren’t cheap when it comes to replacing them.

There have been a number of interior niggles – rattles and the like – and door handles can stick and xenon headlights can fail. Rear light units were susceptible to water ingress. Sat navs can play up – usually cured by a software update, but there have been cases of cars requiring new units. Battery drain can be an issue and cars with a wet floor may have a break in the pipework to the rear wash wipe.


How much to pay?

You can buy an E70 30d for around £13k, but cars in this price bracket are likely to be more trouble than they’re worth featuring high miles and possibly a chequered history. If you have your heart set on an X5 we’d strongly advise you to up your budget and at around the £17k mark you’ll find plenty of 30ds with around 70-80k miles with plenty of options such as leather and sat nav. Cars at BMW dealers also start at around this price point, and although they will probably be earlier cars, they will have the full approved used car warranty.

If you’ve £25k burning a hole in your pocket you could bag a 2012 xDrive30d M Sport from a main dealer with around 50k miles on the clock and it’ll no doubt have plenty of options, too.


Verdict

The X5 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and even after all these years it still polarises opinion. Many folk would prefer a 5 Series Touring for the same amount of money and it’s worth bearing in mind that the £25k X5 we spoke about could be a 530d Touring approximately a year newer with fewer miles with better performance and economy to boot – and all for £25k. Still want that X5? There’s no doubting the X5’s road presence, but do give one a whirl before setting your heart on one as, bar the higher ride height and a modicum of off-road ability, we reckon you might actually be better off with a 530d Touring!

TECHNICAL DATA BMW E70 X5 xDrive30d
              PRE-LCI       POST LCI
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve, turbo diesel
CAPACITY: 2993cc 2993cc
MAX POWER: 235hp 245hp
MAX TORQUE: 384lb ft 398lb ft
TOP SPEED: 130mph 130mph
0-62MPH: 8.3 seconds 7.6 seconds
ECONOMY: 32.5mpg 38.2mpg
EMISSIONS (CO2): 231g/km 195g/km
PRICE (NEW): £40,220 (2007) £45,035 (2010)

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