- Post is under moderationFull-fat 4x4: E53 X5 4.8iS Bringing out the BIG GUNS. Words: Simon Holmes. Photography: Steve Hall.
When BMW introduced the X5 it raised some eyebrows and so did the V8 versions that followed, including the daddy of them all: the 4.8iS.
Bringing Out The Big Guns It’s easy to forget that BMW used to make massive #V8-engined X5s like the 4.8iS.
The launch of the first X5 seems like a long time ago now, and for good reason as it was 15 years ago, back in 1999, that BMW first ventured into the relatively new SUV market. Only it called the X5 (and every subsequent X model since) a Sports Activity Vehicle, or SAV instead.
The new model was met with scepticism at the time as there was some speculation over how well this new wave of larger four-wheel drive cars actually drove on a day-to-day basis. Despite the pumped-up ride height the majority of these cars spent their time on the road rather than off it but that’s what set the X5 apart. Instead of being developed primarily as an off-road vehicle that was then adapted to drive like a car, BMW turned that theory on its head and developed a platform that shared its suspension design closely with a road car. This ensured its roadholding capabilities were preset, so it was then a matter of adapting it to work as a four-wheel drive afterwards. The upside was that on the road it felt and handled like a larger, high-riding car. The down side was its off-road ability, particularly with its car-like large wheels and low profile tyres, wasn’t exactly exceptional but BMW gambled that in this market it wouldn’t have to be.
The decision paid off. The X5 soon became a surefire hit and the fact it wasn’t much good at climbing mountains didn’t really matter. People understood the concept and the car-like feel of the SAV appealed to the masses. It didn’t take long until a demand for a more powerful version to suit the image and make best use of the developed chassis arose either.
Initially, the range of engines was limited but a petrol V8 was always in the line-up to satisfy those wanting a certain amount of grunt in their new SAV. At first this was provided by the 4.4i model, producing a wholesome 286hp but after good sales and feedback BMW realised there might be a market for a hotter version. So for those yearning for more power a 4.6iS model entered production in 2001 to run alongside the 4.4i. Powered by the M62 4.6-litre V8 producing 347hp it pushed the X5 into a different realm, as despite its size and 2.2-tonne weight it offered performance that would give many of the big BMWs a scare with its 0-62mph time of just 6.5 seconds.
However, by 2004 the X5 was due a face-lift and the M62 engine was reaching the end of its life span, so the new and improved N62 V8 replaced it. This unit featured double Vanos and came in a range of sizes but 4.6-litres to suit the previous X5 model was not one of them. Instead, there was now a larger 4799cc version and so the 4.8iS was born to replace it. The new range-topper produced 360hp at a relatively rev-happy 6200rpm and with it came a matching 369lb ft of torque at a much lower 3600rpm. The big V8 only came connected to the six-speed automatic Steptronic gearbox but performance was frankly ludicrous for the size and weight of the car. From rest, 62mph was achieved in just 6.1 seconds whilst some independent tests claimed to have breached the sub-6 second threshold. It kept on going until it ran out of gearing and aerodynamics at its 153mph top speed.
To help distribute all that power to the floor, all of the new face-lifted X5 models also featured xDrive as standard, which meant the clever four-wheel drive system could vary power between the front and back when needed. The 4.8iS also received self-levelling air suspension with sports settings both front and rear that featured manual ride height adjustment, too.
All that performance and technology came at a price and on launch the new replacement iS cost £58,025, nearly £10,000 more than a 4.4i Sport and some £22,575 more than an entry level 3.0i SE. For your money you did get a level of luxury unrivalled by the lower models that still holds its own today. Inside the usual Dakota leather interior fitted to other X5s was exclusively upgraded to soft Nappa leather and the headlining was finished in anthracite. The front seats were heated and offered electric adjustment with memory functions as standard. All X5 models came with gadgets galore with everything from cruise control and PDC to rain sensors and tyre puncture warning, but the 4.8iS also featured a CD changer to go with the advanced ten-speaker stereo. The standard safety equipment was topped with rear side airbags to match the existing front, side and head airbags for the driver and passenger. To match the beefy performance there were also beefy looks and the standard wheels were upgraded to giant 20-inch items carried over from the 4.6iS that measured 9.5- and 10.5-inches wide, front and back. They were fitted with supercar-wide 315/35/20 tyres at the rear and 275/40/20 at the front. To top it off, xenon headlights, chrome exhaust tailpipes and extended wheel arches were fitted.
Despite fuel consumption and running costs not being exactly strong points for the model thanks to a claimed 20.9mpg combined figure, the 4.8iS actually sold pretty well, although ever improving diesel technology would mark the end for the big petrol engines. There are still a few around but they aren’t exactly common; fortunately reader Jag has supplied us with the 4.8iS seen here. He hasn’t had the car long and actually bought it on a bit of whim after it caught his eye for sale on the internet, which makes him a brave man! Knowing that the 4.8iS is a rare beast finished in this fetching shade of Estoril blue, Jag bought it and has since been using it as a fun family car for the weekends. He chose well as this particular iS would have been an expensive purchase when it was first ordered back in 2005 as it’s been fitted with a range of options including an Electric Panorama Glass Sunroof at £1095, Aluminium Running Boards at £215 and Professional sat nav with TV capability at £2440, among others. It’s a fine example to photograph and fine example to test-drive, which Jag has graciously let us do.
The first thing you notice when climbing up into the capacious cabin is that you literally have to climb into the car, rather than settle yourself into it. At 1.8 meters tall the X5 is big but whilst it looks large on the outside once you’re behind the wheel it feels positively gargantuan. Even the driving position itself seems raised, more so than later X5 models as the seats themselves don’t go quite as low to the floor.
It’s easy to adapt to, though, and it does give a great, open view of the road. The height of the pedals takes a little longer to get used to as they sit a little too high, producing a slightly strange angle for my long legs to position. But otherwise the interior is a nice place to be and the panoramic sunroof really makes it feel light and airy through the vast cabin space. The dashboard, instruments and switchgear all have a solid, late 1990s feel of BMW build quality, which is a good thing.
Out on the road the immediately surprising thing is how well the X5 hides its vast mass. You can feel the weight of the car shift around as you accelerate and brake but it doesn’t necessarily feel like two tonnes of metal. That’s largely down to the engine, as the big V8 makes light work of pulling away with haste and once on the move it’s perfectly content to travel with complete effortlessness. A relaxed right foot sees the automatic shifting gears at 2000rpm and at these lowly speeds the engine seems super silky smooth, allowing a consistent gliding sensation. The gearbox’s changes are a little less seamless but not enough to disrupt the feel and even with those big wheels and skinny tyres the ride seems pleasant and although it’s firm it’s far from harsh.
There’s still plenty of grunt low down and the power seems almost lazy in its delivery at first but on the more open sections of road the X5 transforms. Once you engage some more throttle and force the gearbox to kickdown a gear or two it’s then that the V8 picks up with a sudden sense of urgency. Whilst the power maintains an effortless wave of momentum the speedo quickly climbs and even at higher speed it reacts with the same smooth punch of torque, making light work of just about any road once on the move. The accompanying soundtrack it makes is glorious, too, as the deep burble it emits at low revs awakens to become a satisfying growl higher up. It sounds just like a big V8 should and it inevitably brings a smile to your face every time the revs build.
However, on the more flowing A- and B-roads the lack of immediate steering response is notable and it almost feels a little clumsy. In tighter turns it requires the steering wheel to be fed through your hands as it hasn’t got the lock to turn without taking your hands off the wheel, something I haven’t experienced on a car in awhile. Also, when pushing on in the corners it seems to show a tendency to want to understeer, though the active xDrive system works away to ensure it remains composed. You do find yourself sliding around the armchair-style seats a little though. Whilst it’s certainly not the kind of car to be taken on regular track day outings it’s fair to say the 4.8iS is a lot of fun in the way a big power engine always is.
It’s a very big and heavy car but it hides its bulk well thanks to that engine as a dab of throttle makes it come alive and with an associated engine note to put virtually every current BMW to shame. It’s clearly more suited as a heavyweight cruiser, although Jag tells us that 20mpg is about as much as it will do on a run. But then it’s not the kind of car you buy for the economy and that goes with the territory with an iS.
It’s a shame BMW doesn’t do a petrol engine V8 equivalent in the current X5 line-up as although the big diesels offer similar performance, they don’t quite have that same aggressive feel or, of course, sound. The big gun X5 was definitely one of a kind…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E53 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-X5-4.8iS / #BMW-X5-4.8iS-E53 / #BMW / #V8 / #BMW-V8 / #N62B48 / #N62 / #BMW-N62 /
ENGINE: 32-valve, V8
MAX POWER: 360hp
MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft
TOP SPEED: 153mph
0-62MPH: 6.1 seconds
Out on the road the surprising thing is how well the X5 hides its vast massStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBlast from the Past. We don our rose-tinted specs and sample Hartge’s 5.0 V8 E53 X5… it’s still a hoot to drive. It’s been a while since we drove an E53 generation X5 but this Hartge-fettled example reminded us what was so great about the original V8-engined softroader. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
We may well be on the third iteration of the X5 softroader, or Sports Activity Vehicle, as #BMW still insist on calling it, but there’s something that’s still rather wonderful about the original E53 incarnation. In the right colour and sitting on the right alloys it’s still a pretty good-looking piece of kit that has aged well, although conversely in the wrong colour and on the smaller wheels it does also show its age. I still have a pretty soft spot for the car – a wonderful, if slightly expensive to run, workhorse in 3.0d form, and hilariously quick and well-mannered in the fruitier V8 varieties. Even after all these years one of my favourite car launches was the face-lift E53 X5 over in South Carolina riding the Blue Ridge mountains in a raunchy V8. Stunning scenery, hospitable locals and a great car to be let loose in.
Even today in my slightly madder moments I can’t help but have a quick trawl of used X5 values (usually in their brawniest factory 4.6iS and 4.8iS formats) so when the chance came up to sample the wildest of X5s this side of the one-off X5 Le Mans I jumped at the chance. The car in question is a Hartge 5.0-litre X5, fully converted when new by Hartge and its UK agent Birds. I can still remember sampling Hartge’s demonstrator out in Germany back in 2002 and finding it hilariously entertaining to punt along with prodigious shove from the fully-fettled Hartge V8 accompanied by a fruity NASCAR-style soundtrack.
On a recent visit to Birds’ Iver HQ to sample its divine 435d xDrive that you can read about elsewhere in the issue we spotted this dark green example, looking ever so slightly incongruous in amongst the more modern fare. One often has the chance to sample heavily modified BMWs when they’re new, but to come across one 15 years down the line is a rare treat and we couldn’t pass up the chance to sample this car to see how it has stood the test of time. Would it live up to my fond memories of the model, or would it be a huge disappointment?
Before we put the pedal to the metal though it’s probably worth having a quick recap as to what exactly went into this Hartge X5 conversion. At its heart was an engine conversion that took the V8 to 4930cc thanks to an increase in bore (by 2mm) and stroke (up 6.1mm) to develop figures of 380hp and 376lb ft of torque, good enough to propel this brick on wheels to 150mph while knocking off the benchmark 0-62mph dash in a smidgen under six seconds. It wasn’t just about a capacity increase though as there was a bespoke Hartge exhaust with four howitzer-sized tailpipes and to ensure it handled the extra power the chassis came in for some upgrades, too. There were stiffer anti-roll bars and a Hartge suspension set up that lowered the car by around 30mm to ensure that the big SAV’s bulk was kept in check when pushing on.
Rounding off the package was a styling kit that included a hugely aggressive front apron and a very sexy set of 22-inch rims. Even today 22s are pretty big, but 15 years ago these really were something to write home about. And it would seem that the past 15 years have been pretty kind to this particular X5 and it’s still in excellent condition as befits a car that’s covered less than 50k miles during its life. It’s also benefited from a few pleasant upgrades such as an M3 steering wheel complete with paddle-shift gear change and a well-integrated aftermarket sat nav and entertainment system in place of the outdated standard fit nav screen.
The proof of the pudding though is in the driving and simply twisting the key (remember keys – a joy to use after the modern fad of keyless go and push button starts) elicits a wonderful throaty roar from the rear of the car before it settles down into a bassy idle that’s just a tad more menacing than the regular X5 V8. Trundling away from Birds the X5 is certainly eager to get a move on and feels a little bit like a caged tiger prowling the streets. On rougher roads those gumball wheels and tyres do make the car fidget quite a bit and be under no illusion that this machine will provide a billiard smooth ride, but despite this the X5 starts to wheedle its way under your skin, making you smile every time you prod the loud pedal and grin a little as it tries to take off into the next county.
Crusing up the motorway to our shoot location and the X5 garners plenty of glances from other motorists and that bold front end styling that Hartge gave to the car proves to be very effective at clearing slower moving traffic from your path as other drivers seem to be convinced the X5 is simply going to Hoover them up through the huge air intakes. If we were to let it off the leash it feels like it would still hit its 150mph maximum, but that’s a game best not played on the M40 so we make do with entertaining ourselves once we reach the backroads.
On A roads and fast B roads it’s a real hoot to punt along, feeling pretty rapid in isolation, no doubt a feeling partially assisted by the wonderful V8 soundtrack. Its outright speed is to a certain extent put into context by the 435d that I’m chasing, but as you can read elsewhere in the issue that machine is insanely fast. The X5 corners pretty well too – grip is never an issue thanks to the huge footprint and the four-wheel drive, but when the roads get rougher and more bumpy you do end up being a little more circumspect as those big wheels can upset the ride to quite a degree.
Overall though the Hartge 5.0 X5 still convinces as well as it did back in 2002. This one has been lovingly looked after and seems to be in fine fettle. If you’re after the ultimate X5 pop along to Birds and give it the once over, you won’t be disappointed.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE: #2002 / #BMW-Hartge / #BMW-X5-5.0 / #BMW / #Hartge / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-E53 / #BMW-E53-Hartge / #BMW-X5-Hartge / #BMW-X5-Hartge-E53 / #Hartge-X5-5.0 / #Hartge-X5-5.0-E53
ENGINE: #V8 32-valve / #M62 / #BMW-M62
MAX POWER: 380hp / DIN
MAX TORQUE: 376lb ft / DIN
TOP SPEED: 150mph
0-62MPH: 5.9 seconds
Contact Birds where the car is for sale for more information
CONTACT: Birds Garage
Tel: 01753 657444 Web: www.birdsgarage.co.ukStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPhysical Attraction / #BMW-X5-4.6iS / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-E53 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-E53 /
Re-evaluating the bonkers #BMW-E53 X5 4.6iS. Back in its day the X5 4.6iS was one of the fastest 4x4s on the planet, but how does it feel nearly 15 years later? Words and photography: Mark Williams.
I was always fascinated by physics at school. Chemistry held an interest too, but that was more a morbid fascination with combining substances we were explicitly told not to mix by our mischievous teacher, who would often then turn his back and wander off to the storeroom for five minutes, leaving us with two half-full test tubes; one of fuel, the other of igniter and only one thing left to do. My 14-year-old niece reliably informs me that today’s teachers are a boring lot in comparison. It was the physics classes though which really held appeal.
Across the corridor, the mysterious art of applying power or force to an object with a certain density in order to motivate it forward grabbed my interest, and that’s something which has never really left me. It’s clearly visible in some of my car purchases over the last 15 years; two-tonne leviathans stretching their legs to the tune of lusty, big capacity V12s which overcome sheer mass through brute force and power. Which brings us neatly to this, the X5 4.6iS.
I’ve driven several SUVs over the last year or so, and I’ve doubted every single one of them upon first acquaintance. Come the time to return them though, and there’s an uneasy feeling inside which suggests that there is some logic at work here, and hence appreciation of what they can achieve. Logic? Well ask yourself this – would you rather hack up to Scotland in a Fiesta, or something with refinement through size, long-legged cruising ability thanks to a big motor, and the confidence instilled in the driver through being able to see hundreds of yards ahead? If you accept that big cars don’t have to be built in the mould of the 7 Series or S-Class, and you don’t crave the final degree of handling incisiveness which enables you to clip apices time and again, then you begin to appreciate why people buy these things.
So let’s not think of the psychology at work here and just consider the X5 on merit. Generally regarded as the first in the line of lifestyle SUVs, or SAVs as BMW prefer it (Sports Activity Vehicle, as if ‘Utility’ conjures up off-brand images which keep marketing men laying awake at night), the X5 first rolled down the path previously traversed by later versions of the Range Rover throughout the ’80s and into the ’90s. That is, once the Range Rover had opened the door to a market for luxury off-roaders which spent most of their time on-road, BMW’s boffins got to work. Porsche then followed and the rest is living history, seen every day on the roads and in car parks the world over.
A few years into the lifecycle of the first generation of X5, the E53, BMW gave us this in 2001. An X5 which gorged itself on a diet of M62 V8 and F1-spec rubber (315s out the back, so make sure your credit card is up to the task when you visit Kwik Fit as decent brand Reifen will set you back 400 quid a corner), equating to two tonnes plus a load more, 347hp, 354lb ft of torque and an attitude.
The exhausts rumble, the bluff grille sends smaller fare scattering into the inside lane and the owner looks smug whilst trying not to eye the fruit-machine behaviour exhibited by the pump whilst filling it up. But there’s a promise of being able to continue should it snow, or still being able to extract oneself from the field at the local place of interest, after it rains and turns it into a mud pie (and never mind that the aforementioned 315s are about as useful in said conditions as a Teflon-coated castor would be). We all know the Modus Operandi at work here, right? BMW refined the recipe in 2004 with the 4.8 model, but the first jaw-dropper and convention-changer is what you see here.
And it works, it really does. At the time of the test (and thanks given here to the owner for allowing us to borrow the car he had recently purchased from James Paul down in West Sussex, 01403 823723 or www.jamespaul.co.uk) this particular 4.6iS wasn’t in the first flush of youth, but still only had 78k on the odo and hence, plenty left to give. It creaked and groaned a bit over the region’s more pot-marked asphalt but in general, you’d have to say that the guys at the North Carolina Spartanburg plant where they assembled these things (and still do, 1.5 million units later) knew what they were doing. Yes it rolled a bit in the corners but one soon dialled into its responses and compensated accordingly, driving in accordance with its size and weight. That is to say, ‘considerately’.
When I hit the throttle, velocity was gained with a baritone rumble and a feeling that anything which happened into our path would be swept away under the avalanche. At least one could see said ‘target’ well in advance thanks to the elevated driving position.
Onto the brakes before tipping it into a bend and there’s a very clear feeling that one shouldn’t really be doing this in something so vast, but it slows with authority and the lean through the subsequent corner actually helps the chassis settle and not panic the driver. The steering isn’t fast enough for this kind of work though, even bordering on the vague (plus it’s far too light) and no matter how much lock you think you need in those early miles, you consistently need just that little bit more. Nobody ever claimed it’s anything approaching lithe as a handling device though, because clearly it’s a blunt instrument designed to bludgeon and not trim its line via the control surfaces, but the honest reality is that you can cover the ground at a good pace in one of these things without the feeling that one false move will require our cartographers to reach for their pens and start over…
Back at James Paul, I have a good look over the interior and muse to myself that dashboard architecture and styling has come a long way in the past ten years. In terms of toys, all the high-end kit of the period is present and correct, so the seats are powered in every direction except sideways, ditto the mirrors and steering column. The air-con still kicks out an icy blast, the sound quality from the (standard) stereo makes you wonder whether BMW has cut some corners in order to pinch the pennies in that area in recent years and the sat-nav makes a decent attempt at finding its way around (and never mind that you’d need a trained chimp to reach the buttons from the driver’s seat). Praise the Lord that there’s an actual engine coolant gauge and not ‘only’ an oil temp gauge or merely warning lights, the engine starts with a key (quaint) and the shift pattern printed onto the base of the auto shifter harks back to auto shifters of old, and not the algebra expressions which appear printed atop modern shifters. It all works well enough too, save for the inevitable pixel issue on this age of #BMW and a line or two missing on the sat-nav screen. But these are niggles, easily sorted.
Closing the doors and standing back to admire the heft, it’s not ageing too badly either. Okay the frontal aspect looks a little old and the light pods particularly, complete with separate and permanently visible washing pods, really date it. But from the side and especially from the rear three-quarter, where those 315s somewhat dominate proceedings, it looks squat, heavy and dependable. And it would be reliable for the most part, but you would have to look out for coolant leaks, some of which can cost an arm and a leg to rectify, and they consume suspension components with frightening regularity, which shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise when you consider the sheer mass of the thing.
Bottom line, for the £7.5k this was up for prior to being sold (and I succeeded in squeezing in a video review too, so pop over to my Quently Bentin YouTube channel for that one), it represented a quite staggering amount of metal for your money, and an amusing way of poking fun at the laws of physics.
Thanks to: James Paul
Tel: 01403 823723
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E53 X5 4.6iS
ENGINE: V8, petrol, normally aspirated / #M62 / #M62B46 / #BMW-M62
MAX POWER: 347hp @ 5700rpm
MAX TORQUE: 354lb ft @ 3700rpm
0-62MPH: 6.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 149mph
ECONOMY: 19mpg (17 on test)
PRICE: £54,000 (2001), circa £7500 (today)
When I hit the throttle, velocity was gained with a baritone rumble.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW Concepts
The bonkers and adorable #BMW X5 Le Mans profiled. The cars they could have made The maddest and baddest X5 ever imagined was wheeled out for the first time at the #Geneva-Show in #2000 / #2000-Geneva-Motor-Show / #BMW-X5-Le-Mans-E53 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-X5-Le-Mans / #BMW-X5-E53 / #2000
Some of the most interesting machines to have emerged from Munich’s hallowed halls can trace their origins back to having been skunkworks projects. Ideas dreamed up by engineers under the ‘what if’ banner. The 2002 came about thanks to Helmut Werner Bonsch, the director of product planning for BMW, and Alex von Falkenhausen, the designer of the M10 engine, both privately dropping the 2.0-litre M10 from the Neue Klasse Saloon into their 1602s. Then there was the E30 Touring, designed by a BMW engineer in his spare time as the regular two-door model didn’t have enough space for his family. And then there’s the X5 Le Mans, a wild creation brought about by BMW engineers having a bit of spare time, a V12 LMR engine lying about the workshops that was surplus to requirements and an unsuspecting X5…
BMW said that its engineers wanted to prove the ability of the X5’s chassis but we think it was probably a case of ‘I wonder if this would fit?’. Either way they shoehorned the V12, fresh from powering the LMR #Le-Mans winning car in 1999, into the X5’s body, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox from an E39 M5. As the #V12 developed 531lb ft of torque – considerably more than the M5’s 369lb ft – they expected the ‘box’s internals to be turned into swarf after a short amount of time but it was stronger than expected. This allowed the great Hans-Joachim Stuck to take to the Nordschleife with the X5 Le Mans where he managed to record a scarcely believable time of seven minutes 49 seconds, reaching a top speed of 311km/h in the process. And this was at a time when BMW’s top dog, the Z8, took eight minutes and 15 seconds to lap the same track. He also enjoyed scaring some journalists witless when he took them out for some passenger laps…
Visually the Concept X5 Le Mans didn’t look that dissimilar from the production car although it sat 30mm lower on some custom suspension and the show car sported some fancy rims which weren’t actually used when Stuck was at the wheel. Inside, the normal seats were replaced by four buckets for the show car, but for track work these were ditched for a roll-cage and harnesses. Sanitised hot X5s were eventually released in the form of the 4.6iS and 4.8iS models, but how good would it have been had BMW put the X5 Le Mans into limited production? That would have been the ultimate Chelsea tractor!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIt’s amazing to think that just 30 years ago BMW’s four-wheel drive adventure was only just beginning and back in those days its USP was that in a time when just about every manufacturer was turning to front-wheel drive BMWs remained resolutely driven by their rear wheels.
While some might bemoan the fact that you can now more or less order every #BMW with four driven wheels BMW has done its research and concluded that if that’s what the market wants, that’s what it will build. Today around one in three BMW cars sold around the world is now equipped with the intelligent #xDrive all-wheel drive system (BMW prefers the term all-wheel drive to four-wheel drive with its slightly negative farm machinery connotations!).
BMW’s success in this segment has been driven not only by the ever-popular X models but also by allwheel drive models based on the other model series, from the 1 Series to the 7 Series. Across these model series, a large choice of AWD models is offered in a wide range of engine versions, and even in the UK where we were somewhat slow on the all-wheel drive uptake you can now order an example of every model series, bar the 5 Series, with all-wheel drive. At the same time, BMW continues to refine this technology and take it in new directions. By offering BMW xDrive in combination with a hybrid drive and with a front-wheel drive platform the company has repeatedly demonstrated its proficiency in the allwheel drive field, proficiency that will secure BMW’s position at the forefront of this sector well into the future. Today, BMW offers more than 110 models – of either transmission type – with xDrive in 12 different model series, as well as the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car and the compact 225xe with electrified allwheel drive.
BMW’S ALL-WHEEL DRIVE HIGHLIGHTS
1985: E30 BMW-325iX / #BMW-325iX-E30 / #1985
The full-time all-wheel drive system featured on the 325i ‘Allrad’ of 1985 split the drive power in a ratio of 37 to 63 per cent between the front and rear wheels. In response to wheel speed differences, Visco locks in the transfer case and rear differential were capable of providing a virtually rigid connection between the front and rear wheels in order to improve traction and stability. This model’s name was soon changed to 325iX and from 1988 it was offered as a Touring, too.
1991: E34 #BMW-525iX / #BMW-525iX-E34 /
Three years on, BMW also introduced an all-wheel drive model in the 5 Series. For the first time, the power split was now electronically controlled with the newly developed system featuring multi-plate clutches that allowed the default 36:64 front-to-rear power split to be varied seamlessly and automatically in line with driving conditions. Initially a hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutch was used at the rear axle, but this was later replaced by electronically controlled selective braking intervention. The system monitored the driving situation using wheel speed signals from the Anti-lock Braking System, supplemented by further information about brake status, engine speed and throttle valve position.
1999: E53 #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-X5
In the run-up to the new millennium the X5, dubbed the world’s first Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) by BMW, made its debut. It was a hugely impressive piece of kit offering unmatched driving dynamics for a 4x4. A planetary gear system split the drive power in a ratio of 38:62 per cent between the front and rear wheels, while electronic control systems such as DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), #ADB-X (Automatic Differential Brake) and #HDC (Hill Descent Control) ensured the new X5 was both sporty on the road and equipped to handle challenging conditions off the beaten track.
2000: E46 3 Series / #BMW-330iX-E46
In the years following the successful launch of the SAV concept, there was no let-up in the fast pace of all-wheel drive development at BMW. The next year, 2000, a model-specific version of the X5’s all-wheel drive technology became available for the fourth generation of the 3 Series.
2003: xDrive makes its debut
Four years after the debut of the X5 in 1999, BMW kept up the momentum by launching the X3. The newly developed xDrive all-wheel drive system, which was introduced in the same year in both the X3 and the X5, soon extended BMW’s lead in the AWD segment. Based on an extremely fast-acting electronic multiplate clutch in the transfer case, xDrive worked in tandem with the Dynamic Stability Control system (DSC) to continuously adapt the drive power split to the current driving situation. In addition to wheel speed, for the first time the electronic control system took into account Dynamic Stability Control data, for example about steering angle, accelerator position and lateral acceleration. In the years that followed, the xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system was fitted not only on the X models but also on the xDrive versions of the 3 and 5 Series too.
2008: Dynamic Performance
Not content with its X3 and X5 models taking all the plaudits BMW ventured off-piste with its X6 in 2007 when it introduced what it termed the world’s first Sports Activity Coupé (with the rather unfortunate SAC acronym). For the first time, the intelligent all-wheel drive system was combined with Dynamic Performance Control (DPC), which varied the drive power split between the rear wheels when cornering to ensure excellent agility and stability, even under sudden throttle changes or on overrun.
2009: Hybrids and Ms
The Active Hybrid X6 demonstrated a further possible pairing – between xDrive and hybrid propulsion. Meanwhile, in the same year, BMW M GmbH added two very special models to its range of high-performance sports cars. With an M-tuned xDrive system, including Dynamic Performance Control, the X5 M and X6 M boasted performance that was previously unknown in the all-wheel drive market. Some M fans were up in arms – four-wheel drive, a turbocharged engine and an automatic gearbox! 2009 also saw the arrival of the X1 and the inclusion of xDrive on a 7 Series, too.
2012: BMW 6 Series xDrive
In the spring of 2012, the first all-wheel drive Coupé and Convertible models were then offered in the 6 Series. xDrive can also now be specified on the 3 and 5 Series and, since 2013, on the Convertible, Coupé and Gran Coupé models of the new BMW 4 Series.
2014: BMW i8
With the i8, unveiled in 2014, BMW took a bold new step in new directions – which also extended to the all-wheel drive system. This 2+2-seater sports model is powered by a highly advanced plug-in hybrid drive system that pairs an internal combustion engine driving the rear wheels with a highperformance electric motor driving the front wheels.
2014 also saw the arrival of a host of new all-wheel drive models – the X4, the third generation X5, the second generation X6 and the 2 Series Active Tourer. This latter model was a debut with a difference, being the first time BMW had combined its all-wheel drive system with an all-new front-wheel drive format.
2015: BMW xDrive
BMW’s latest all-wheel drive models bring technological advances that are firmly focused on the future of mobility. The BMW i8 was followed by the international launch of the first production plug-in hybrid model from the BMW core brand: the X5 xDrive40e. It will soon be followed by a raft of xDrive eDrive models – 330e, 220xe and 740e to name but a few. 2015 also saw the introduction of the new G11/12 7 Series which, for the first time, combines xDrive with Integral Active Steering with passively steering rear wheels.
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- Post is under moderationCheap X5s… / #2001 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-E53 / #BMW /
‘There’s no such thing,’ quipped a trade contact when the term ‘cheap X5’ was mentioned. ‘There’s buying one cheap, but then you have to run it and fix it.’ He then claimed that the best budget model is the 3.0i petrol. And, I have to agree with him. With 231hp they’re not a bad drive and, if truth be known, the difference in economy between this and the 3.0d isn’t that huge. The 3.0i manual is a very rare model favoured mainly by farmers but it’s a great old bus. It’s also more reliable – the #M54 engine really is a tough old boot as long as the cooling system is maintained (new water pump at 100k). Most sub-£3000 X5s are heaps just waiting to go very badly wrong – things like the #GM-automatic gearbox, air springs, differentials as well as other old high mileage diesel maladies. The 4.4i V8 is just too heavy on fuel and it has the same gearbox and diff problems in old age as the diesels. The 3.0i, though, seems a lot better as it hasn’t got the torque to cause the diffs any great harm. They’re unloved as well so for the price of a stretcher case diesel or V8 (‘gearbox needs attention’ and other such nonsense) you can get into a decent fully-working 3.0i.
The other killer is potentially road tax. Anything juicy registered after March 2001 (so most old X5s then) could soon be paying the full Class M £505 a year in road tax although at the moment you’ll be paying £290 as Class K (registered before March 23, 2006). The 3.0d is pumping out 259 g/km compared to the 214 g/km of a 2012 3.0d X5 and the 3.0i petrol’s 310 g/km, but be prepared for an anti-diesel backlash following the well publicised VW faux pas. The government could well put an anti-pollution policy into place (an amendment to the London Low Emission Zone anyone?) and old pre-DPF diesels will be right in the firing line with old #BMW-X5 smokers being a prime target.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSUPERCHARGED #BMW-X5-Dinan-E53 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-E53 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-X5-4.6iS / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-E53 / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-Dinan / #BMW-X5-4.6iS-Dinan-E53
Panzer Division A heavily tuned, supercharged X5 by Dinan that’s more than just a little bit tank-like. Panzer Division Affectionately known by owner Jay Belknap as the Panzer German tank, this X5 happens to be packing some heavy artillery thanks to a Dinan supercharger conversion… Words: Dan Wagener /// Photography: Dan Wagener & Ryan Lee
Traditional love stories typically begin with ‘once upon a time’ and end with ‘and they lived happily ever after’. Most people would hope that held true for every relationship, but through past experience we all know it to be an unrealistic expectation. Some relationships can start out as planned, but take a turn for the worst. Others may start out rough, but were all worth it in the end. For Jay Belknap and his #2003 X5 it was the latter.
Ever since Jay had a daily driver it’s been some sort of truck/utility vehicle. It was something cheap and paid off which allowed him to sink money into his 1994 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4. But once he was satisfied with how the VR4 turned out, he figured he’d get the truck he had always wanted – a supercharged Range Rover Sport. So he went on the forums and asked the owners how they liked them and whilst half said they were awesome, the other half didn’t know because they were always back at the dealers. He then started researching the runnerup, the E53 X5 (keep in mind this is before the X5M had made its debut) and found that the 4.6iS could be supercharged through #Dinan for a modest cost so he decided to look for a clean example finished in black. Months of searching showed no luck and he eventually gave up.
Then one day, about half a year later he randomly browsed for X5s on the market and found a oneowner 4.6iS with 85k on the clock for sale in Texas. It just so conveniently happened to be finished in black Sapphire, was supercharged and came with Brembo brakes together with an E46 M3 steering wheel already installed. Sceptical that it had to be some sort of scam, additional photos proved it was, in fact, the real deal, so he took a flight out to Houston a few days later with a cheque in hand.
As he walked out of Houston International the black X5 whistled down the arrival ramp. It was freshly detailed and ready for him to take on a road trip back to Virginia Beach. He got in, exchanged pleasantries, got the paperwork done and proceeded to drop the previous owner off at his work. But as soon as they left the airport the check engine light came on! The previous owner said he had a guy who was an old BMW master that did all the previous work and that he would have it fixed, right then. So they headed over to the shop and found a boost leak from a clamp that wasn’t tightened down all the way. Already four hours behind schedule, Jay was ready to head home. When he finally got on to the I-10 East, he punched it and the supercharged #M62B46 / #M62 responded as you would expect. Jay was instantly hooked, forgetting that his previous Range Rover Sport even existed.
After about an hour into Louisiana though, the supercharger belt decided it was no longer going to be friends with the engine. It took out every other belt and the A/C tensioner on its way out, too. Jay shut the truck down and got a tow back west to Texas. That tow truck broke down so another tow truck took him the remainder of the distance West on the I-10 to a hotel in Beaumont, Texas, two blocks away from Beaumont BMW. He figured he’d be the first one into BMW the next day, get it fixed and be on his way.
Well, he was the first one on to the lot, but the secretary arrived and informed him that their service shop is closed on Saturdays. She invited him inside to call yet another tow truck, to get him further west to Momentum BMW in Houston. It was at that time the service manager, who was coming in to do his end of- month reports, had overheard Jay’s situation and started calling his techs. One was awake and said he’d be right in. They got him back on the road with just a new main belt (no A/C belt/tensioner or S/C belt). The previous owner called back and paid BMW for the work. Jay thanked him and said if anything else happened on the way home that he’d take care of it from there (nothing more did happen though). He later found out that the blower bracket tensioner needed an alignment.
Needless to say it was not a desirable first 24 hours of ownership. On a good note though, Jay later established a relationship with Dinan’s aftersales support team. They got him set up with the parts needed to fix the tensioner rod and belt. Like any machine, it simply needed maintenance.
Now, to the untrained eye, Jay’s X5 may appear as if it came this way from the factory, but the finer details tell all about this rare beast. If you’re not familiar with the 4.6iS model, it had a very short 2002-2003 production run. #BMW had injected the standard X5 model with steroids metaphorically speaking, just like they do with the M models. These factory enhancements included larger fenders flares, massive 20-inch wheels, larger/louder exhausts, a unique variant of the #5HP24 #ZF5HP24 / #ZF5HP / #ZF transmission, aggressive camshaft profiles, the high flow intake manifold from the older M62 cars, bored, stroked and compressed to a 10.5:1 ratio producing 342hp and 354lb ft of torque. What makes Jay’s X5 even more rare is that it’s 1 of 27 #Dinan supercharged X5s in the world. The Dinan Signature 3 package consists of a #Vortech V-2 S-Trim Supercharger running 5.5psi, a new #MAF and throttle body, a #DME and EGS flash, larger #Delphi 37lb injectors, and an E39 M5 fuel pump.
One common goal of any true performanceoriented enthusiast is to put as much tyre on the road as possible. With that in mind, together with the weight of the vehicle and the additional power, Jay sourced another pair of 10.5x20-inch OEM Style 87 rear wheels to replace the narrower 9.5-inch wide fronts. A set of four Bridgestone Dueller HP Sport 315/35/20 tyres were then fitted all-round and the improvement in grip from the 315 section tyres up front was like night and day. Behind the concave design Style 87 wheels sits giant eight-piston #Brembo callipers fitted with 380mm/15-inch discs at the front and 355mm/14-inch at the rear to help bring the X5’s larger rolling mass to a halt on demand, without a hint of fade.
To accommodate the lower offset wheels, Jay also added the #BMW-X5-Le-Mans-edition wider front arches and the rear wheels were spaced out 25mm with #H&R spacers to help balance the front-to-rear track width. A Dinan strut bar and camber plates were also added to include some extra bracing for the twisties.
At around 107,000 miles the supercharger’s high speed bearings on the impeller shaft got a little noisy, so with help from friend and mentor, Tony Acker, they sent the blower off to Vortech, and performed the M62 timing guide and valley pan job at the same time. Vortech returned the supercharger with a newer Si-Trim impeller, which meant even more mid-range power than before.
During the summer of 2011 Jay decided it was too hot and had lost trust in his OEM water temp gauge. He also wanted to be able to read and clear codes on the fly so he removed the cluster, fixed the infamous pixel problem whilst there and integrated a PLX Devices DM-100 into the cluster. In addition to the OBD date, the DM-100 was installed with PLX Boost, EGT, dual-WBO2 and oil pressure modules. Other installed electronics include a Tekonsha P3 trailer brake controller, and a hardwired K40 Dual front/rear RADAR detector and front LASER jamming system.
With the engine refresh and monitoring equipment fitted, everything was working tiptop. Then, one day as he came up a steep on-ramp that had a sharp crest to it, the X5 got airborne for a split second. Unluckily for Jay, he was at the top of the engine’s 6600rpm range when it happened. Inertia took over and all the exhaust valves were damaged, bad enough to notice under load and to make matters worse, the intake cam gears spun about the cams. With Tony’s help, they did compression, piston height, and leakdown tests before removing the heads and sending them off to VAC Motorsport for a Stage 1 upgrade, including stainless steel intake valves and fancy Inconel exhaust valves. Whilst it was there, Jay happened to come across a rare 4.6iS Tubi Rumore cat-back exhaust system. As Tubi is mostly known for making exhausts for exotic cars Jay was surprised to discover that they even made one for the X5! After installing the original heads, now blessed by VAC, a huge improvement in power and efficiency was found. The result is a power figure of around 475hp, although Jay has never taken it to the drag strip, he’d like to think it’s possible to break 12 seconds in the quarter-mile. Not bad for a ten-year-old German tank, which is the reasoning behind the name ‘Panzer’.
Today, Jay’s 4.6iS S3 has 135k miles on it, and has been supercharged for 133k of those miles. He would like to thank Dinan Engineering for its outstanding aftersales customer support and would also like to send a huge thanks to Tony Acker for his knowledge and time spent keeping this X5 running so strong. Stronger, in fact, than the day he first got it, many years and many miles ago. So does a bad start have to equal a bad finish to a relationship? In this case, most definitely not.
Below: Massive Brembo brake conversion features eight-pot callipers and huge 380mm/15-inch brake discs so it stops as well as it goes.
Jay’s X5 may appear as if it came this way from the factory, but the finer details tell all to this rare beast.
Dinan supercharger conversion is rare but was fitted on the car when it had covered just 2000 miles from new. It’s since covered another 133,000 miles!
The supercharged M62B46 responded as you would expect and Jay was instantly hooked.
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