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  •   Simon Woolley reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    CAPRI RAISED FROM THE DEPTHS / #Ford-Capri / #Ford

    Police frogmen recover #1982 #Ford-Capri-MkIII – now the search is on to find owner

    A special edition Ford Capri has been dragged out of the bottom of a lake after it was discovered by staff at a watersports centre in Nottinghamshire. The 1982 MkIII Calypso was discovered by employees of the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, and was recovered from the water by a diving team from Nottinghamshire Police. DS Nick Sawdon, one of the officers who worked on the car’s recovery, said: ‘I’ve been on the team since 1997 and I’ve never known a car go in there before. When we first saw it in the gloom of the lake all we could say was that it was probably a large dark saloon. It was a surprise to find it was a Ford Capri. ‘The recovery was quite a challenge – we treated it as a pretty good work out for our training day. The car was half full of sand so we had to use lifting bags and winches to recover it.’

    It is not known how long the car, which was registered in 1982, has been in the lake. Police – who have not released the registration number – have been unable thus far to trace the owner of the Calypso, a special edition based on the 1.6LS and originally offered through the Ford franchised dealer network with two-tone paintwork. According to the #DVLA , a total of 52 are left, including cars currently on #SORN . #Nottinghamshire #Police spokesman Neil Graham said: ‘It may be difficult to find the owner, given how many years the Capri has been down there. If it has been stolen then we may still have it on our records, in which case we might be able to return the car.’

    Sam Skelton


    If you’re the rightful owner of the submerged Ford Capri – or know who might be – we’d like to hear from you. Get in touch by sending an email to us.

    So far Nottinghamshire Police have been unable to trace the submerged Capri’s owner.
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  •   Quentin Willson reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    The Marmite #2015 /// Test Longtermers contributor Mark Williams takes a new X6 xDrive40d for a week long test-drive. Marmite Confirmed 4x4-phobic Mark Williams tries an X6 for size to see if its charms can win him over Photography: Mark Williams /// The Test #BMW-X6-xDrive40d-SE / #BMW-X6-xDrive40d-E71 / #BMW-X6 / #BMW-X6-E71 / #BMW-E71 / #BMW-X5-xDrive30d-M-Sport-F15 / #BMW-X5-xDrive30d-F15 / #BMW-X5-F15 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-F15

    For how long would you test-drive a prospective new car purchase? An hour or so, a day or more, or over a weekend? Does it depend upon the list price, your buying history, your relationship with the dealership or your energy, patience and interest in the process? Up until very recently, I’d seldom bothered with testdrives. I knew what I was buying (BMWs for the most part), I knew I would like them and the odds of resultant issues were quite remote. The kind of cars I buy, though, aren’t candidates for the ‘Marmite list’, which prescribes in one’s mind those cars which appeal by default, and those which do not.

    I’ve never owned an SUV or driven one for any meaningful distance or duration. Not my cup of tea. Dynamically they’re all wrong, I told myself: the weight is in the wrong place; traffic behind can’t see past them due to their girth; the tyres are wider than our doormat, so would be useless in the snow. You need a stepladder to effect entry blah, blah, blah… So I was curious to see how I would respond to a week-long loan of an X6 40d SE from North Oxford BMW, followed by some context in the shape of an X5 30d M Sport from the same proprietor. Would they realign my preconceptions of SUVs, or cement their position on that Marmite list?

    So footstool at the ready I hauled my 15st plus change up into the X6 to start us off. A little over £50k buys you the basic article (if such a term can be used at this level) to which North Oxford had then added over £8k’s worth of options. Most notable of these were the Dynamic Package at £1965 (plus 20- inch alloys at around £1k) and a head-up display at £1015. The last one of these is a curio which I’ve paid for myself in previous cars, then not missed when changing into other cars not similarly equipped. Bearing in mind it was 2007 when I last spec’d it on a new car, I was a little surprised to see the exact same design and appearance staring back at me from the windscreen. No funky coloured graphics à la F10 here. And now my eyes are roaming the dashboard, aren’t those heater controls a tad out of date, too?

    Crikey, I’m having to press the air distribution button in order to change the air temperature, just as I did in my ’07 E60. It’s resolutely put together, and quite elegant after a few days’ worth of exposure. But it’s clearly due a refresh. One is imminent apparently. First impressions weren’t good then, not helped by my immediate response to the exterior styling which is not exactly subtle. I’d already sought the counsel of a colleague at work who owns an early example and enquired as to why he’d chosen the model. He specifically cited the looks as a deciding factor, commenting that too many cars take on a derivative appearance nowadays and he wanted something distinctive. He certainly got what he wanted.

    Anyway, let’s get on with the driving. So out onto the M40 and off yet again in Suffolk’s direction (I do wish our friends lived closer). One thing becomes abundantly clear as soon as we join the traffic: this thing owns the motorways. I’ve never driven a car which clears the outside lane quite so effectively. Buy one in white and don a high-vis jacket for maximum traffic ploughing effect. Pinned to the surface through the sheer weight (2185kg unladen), it seems impressively immune from crosswinds, too. And despite the 315/35s wrapped around 20-inch rears, it isn’t that fussed about standing water either.

    Combine this relentless kinetic energy with the 306hp and 444lb ft output from the 3.0-litre twinturbo diesel and it soon becomes clear that this is a car which monsters long distances, pummelling inclines into submission and relaxing the occupants with the sheer inexorability of it all.

    It brings out the darker side of your character, though, and before long I’m sat there with one arm slung out across the transmission tunnel, glaring at any flea-like hatchback that has the temerity to wander into my path. I’m taller than you. Ergo remove yourself from my road. In other words, if you’re big enough to admit you have a certain arrogance to your character, then you will love this car. The meek may inherit the earth but they won’t be driving an X6 when they sign the ownership papers.

    Once the M11 is despatched, I’m looking forward to the battle between the A120 east of Braintree and the X6’s dynamic side along roads on which the F10 M5 I drove a couple of months back shone so brightly. And it soon becomes clear that it’s really rather good. It’s no sports car, of course. A moderately well-driven hot hatchback would leave it floundering and you’re constantly aware of the sheer width of the thing but the combination of roll suppression, laidback steering, the torque pouring from the diesel mill and the fade-free brakes results in a rich potpourri of ability. I’m starting to warm to this car.

    If only it didn’t fidget so much. Compared to this suspension setup, sitting next to my daughter for 90 minutes in the cinema is serenity itself. On anything less than glass-smooth surfaces, the suspension activity becomes irksome. Interestingly, it’s not uncomfortable per se, just busy. Not once over the week and 550 miles that we had the car did anybody actually complain about the ride but it nevertheless seems to belie an imbalance between the wheel size and the tuning of the suspension. It almost feels as if somebody forgot about the impact unsprung weight can have on the ride quality, and upon realising they decided to leave it in the pursuit of ‘sportiness’. It’s not clear what effect the comfort or sport modes has on it either, as it seems unaffected whether mooching along in normal mode or storming along in sport. It doesn’t spoil the car and over the course of the week I became more used to it but it’s the biggest flaw I’d level against this car’s road behaviour.

    And don’t, whatever you do, order yours without the parking camera. On my F30 the camera is a frivolity. But on the X6, it’s an absolute necessity. Top view, by comparison, is pretty pointless. And whilst we’re on the subject of vision, I found the view through the rear screen somewhat distorted due to the angle of the glass. Following traffic occasionally takes on a ‘hall of mirrors’ appearance and I’m also not sure why BMW evidently saw fit to omit the rear wiper. Windows still get wet at low speeds you know.

    Day two dawns clear and jolly cold, the X6 covered in sparkling frost crystals, and I’m soon itching to get out and about in search of some quiet lanes for an attempt at some off-road stuff. Obligatory late-60s father of our family friend duly installed into the passenger seat, “oh… is this heated? How nice…”, we plunge his local knowledge and set off in search of some grassy scenery and quiet lanes, eventually pitching up at Kentwell Hall, not far from our Lavenham base. Whereupon we promptly get mistaken for the owner and everybody starts bowing their heads as we rumble up the drive. How peculiar. We grab some photos and sulk off back down the drive, our cover blown and nobody waves. What nice, friendly people. Back out onto the main road and Richard (let’s name him as it’s so much easier) suggests we go this way, then that way, and ah yes, turn right just… here.

    Ah, did I mention that this is an SUV matey? So why are we now on a lane barely wide enough for a rickshaw? Stick with it he says, and sure enough we round a bend to be greeted by a frozen wilderness set into a slight valley. I busy myself taking some pictures whilst Richard tries to work out the sat nav and clambering back into the car, snicking ‘drive’ and pinning the throttle, I realise he’s somehow managed to set our destination for somewhere in Lincolnshire. So much for local knowledge. Click, twirl, click and we’re on our way again.

    We make fairly swift progress on the run back to Lavenham, and I marvel at the X6’s ability to almost shrug off its bulk and hustle. Storming up through the gears, the sound from upfront is quite pleasant to the ears and, on the overrun especially, there’s a soft V8- edge to the soundwaves. It’s during these few minutes of frenetic activity that the climate control goes on the blink, point-blank refusing to allow any amendment to air temperature or direction. It fixes itself later after a restart and behaves itself for the remainder of our week with the car, but is odd nonetheless. Smearing our way across Suffolk like this does nothing for the economy, though, and the deadon 30mpg average for the entire week is probably partly due to this.

    The run home from Suffolk was mostly a tale of more relentless hacking down the motorways, except for one rather special moment. Those of who you who regularly traverse the M25 anti-clockwise may be familiar with the long, long left-hander which sucks you onto the northbound M40. Constant-radius, easy at 50mph or requiring a little commitment at 60mph, it’s just the sort of corner on which I’d expect an SUV to come a little unstuck. It doesn’t, of course. The X6 just tacks around with minimal fuss and drama, the chassis nicely loaded up and here, at last, I can see the benefit of that uncompromising suspension, flexing its muscles to lend a hand and maintain body control. Deeply impressive.

    The rest of our time with the X6 is filled with the more mundane but fundamental aspects of life, such as popping to the shops or the recycling centre. I feel slightly guilty lowering the seats before loading up the pristine interior with a load of crap from our garage, but console myself with the thought that if you’re going to test a car, then you may as well do it properly. And we can always vacuum the interior out afterwards. The boot is enormous incidentally, certainly bigger than I was expecting given the exterior styling. The X6, however, shrugs off the duties and just gets on with it, the powered tailgate providing instant hands-free access to the boot-full of booty on the walk up to the car at the recycling centre. Here the high ride height is a boon not a bane as it means you can load up your arms without contorting your back, and I have to say that later installing my daughter into her car seat was a damn sight easier for much the same reason.

    On reflection, I didn’t expect great things from the X6 before our encounter, and I was quite cool towards it upon first acquaintance. That’s entirely my failing and not the car’s and proof that one should leave your preconceptions at home when trying something new. Over the course of the week neither the X6 nor X5 (see opposite) ultimately proved themselves as sporting options but they did demonstrate that it’s just about possible to cover all the bases, which I guess is the point. Elevated driving position, power, half-decent economy considering the weight, refinement and long-distance ability and oodles of space. These are core values which make life more pleasurable.

    Over time, they’re not cars I could love. The arrogance factor would probably preclude that, especially with the X6. But I would certainly grow to respect their abilities. And that’s something you only really come to realise when you spend a week in their company.

    Counterpoint: X5 xDrive30d M Sport

    Compared to the X6, where it took a day or so for its qualities to sink in, I clicked with the X5 almost immediately and, given the choice, would opt for it over its cousin. Leaving aside the subjective discussion over the styling, the biggest difference between the two is in the X5’s superior ride quality. Where the X6 chatters away underneath you, never really leaving you in peace, the X5 glides serenely. Engage ‘Comfort’ on the standard-fit Adaptive M suspension on this M Sport example and the fact it’s running on 20-inch alloys is quickly forgotten. Surface imperfections pass by in the background and it’s only when you really up the pace that you sense the suspension starting to work. Select ‘Sport’ at this point and some control is introduced into the mix, although unfortunately some more of that X6-like fidget also creeps in. But by this point you’re hacking along at a serious lick and I doubt most X5’s will be driven in this manner. For nine-tenths of the time, the X5 is leagues ahead in terms of comfort.

    It has a better looking and feeling interior, too, although to be fair the recent evolution will be passed onto the X6 at some point and the difference will be less marked. I particularly appreciated the variable ambient lighting, split-level tailgate, the crystal clear version of the latest iDrive screen and the flexibility offered by the seating arrangements of this (optional at £990) seven seater-equipped example. I’m also starting to warm to the new rotary controller. It’s also incredibly refined at speed with only the slightest diesel murmur floating back through the bulkhead. Kind of makes one wonder why you’d want to spend close on £80k or £90k for one of those new fangled Range Rovers? It’s snug at night and appreciably airy during the day and has that feel good factor which is important at this level. Economy? Well 28mpg may sound pretty poor but bear in mind that was mostly around town, local lanes and spirited country driving. On a run, I suspect mid-30s would easily be doable. Ultimately for driving thrills mixed with practicality I’d stick with an F11 M Sport but I’m no longer so certain that one of these won’t eventually make it off my Marmite list.

    THANKS TO: North Oxford #BMW Tel: 01865 319000 Web:
    BMW-X5 xDrive30d M Sport-F15 / #N57D30O1
    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve turbo diesel
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 258hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 413lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm
    TOP SPEED: 143mph
    0-62MPH: 6.9 seconds
    ECONOMY: 45.6mpg (claimed), 28.0 (on test)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 164g/km
    PRICE: £52,595 (OTR), £56,700 (as tested)

    The reversing camera was found to be essential on the X6, more so than any other BMW due to its size and hampered visability through the angled rear window

    X5 is the new F15 model and it feels it. The ride is better and the interior looks and feels far more modern.
    Interior feels well made and the iDrive screen doubles as the reversing camera monitor, complete with guidelines and warnings for reverse parking .

    TECH DATA #BMW-X6-xDrive40d-SE-E71
    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve turbo diesel #N57D30T0 / #N57
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 306hp @ 4400rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 443lb ft @ 1500-2500rpm
    TOP SPEED: 147mph
    0-62MPH: 6.5 seconds
    ECONOMY: 37.7mpg (claimed) 30.0 (on test)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 198g/km
    PRICE: £50,290 (OTR), £58,500 (as tested) 550 miles covered, 30mpg on test

    Even the loading space got a thorough workout. It’s a big space and happy to accomodate anything it seems, including the rubbish for a trip to the dump.
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  •   Sam Skelton reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    1971 #Mercedes-Benz-280SE 3.5 £34,950

    This old warrior comes with a reconditioned engine but it’s ready for a body makeover, says Ross Alkureishi.

    This car comes with a stack of MoTs going back 20 years and invoices detailing the work done on it by the previous owner since he bought it in 2000. There are also older ones going back to 1978, and evidence to show it’s had four owners since new.

    A remanufactured engine was fitted in 2000 at 120,000 miles, about 16,000 miles ago. It has just had £1700 of welding done, with repair panels fitted in the rear boot side sections to get it through its recent MoT. The paint on this recent work has a flat and dull finish, but in truth most panels are a slightly different shade of silver.

    The vendor makes no secret of the fact it would benefit from a body restoration. The offside rear three-quarter panel has a large area of bubbling where it meets the wheelarch, and one inner front wing has some corrosion – it doesn’t look structural yet. Corresponding areas on the nearside are in better nick and both doors are solid. The 215/75 R14 Cooper Monogram tyres have some tread left on them but will need replacing soon, but all four chrome wheeltrims present well. Bumpers have excellent chrome and rubber, and the grille is in top condition. The additional spotlights are in working order but the electrical cable supplying them is badly frayed.

    Underbonnet sound-deadening has gone, with just some residue remaining. It looks well used under here, with exhaust manifolds exhibiting surface corrosion markings but no discernible cracks. All fluids are clean and filled to correct levels. A new battery has been fitted and the radiator looks to have been recored recently.

    Inside, it smells like Old Spice and leather treatment. The wooden windscreen surround has splintered on the driver’s side but is solid elsewhere. Up top, the crème headlining is rip- and stain-free, and there’s no sign of any water ingress through the sunroof. The seats are still well sprung and the leather, while aged, is in decent nick. All electrics function as they should except for the nearside window. A Kenlowe fan operated by a dashboard-mounted switch has been fitted to aid cool running in traffic. A press of the key fob deactivates the alarm system and the V8 starts first time.

    There’s plenty of grunt from the engine and it performs adeptly, with no flat spots or irregularity. The power-assisted steering is responsive and the autobox shifts well, but the front end is a bit skittish when it meets flaws in the road surface, so the suspension may require an overhaul. Water temperature ran at 180ºF with oil pressure at 30psi. This car is a decent runner, and could be used regularly, but will need substantial bodywork soon.

    If you’re handy at welding and fancy a project this could be for you.


    Based on the W111 chassis saloons – first launched as the fuel-injected 220SE in 1961 – the 250SE is launched in 1965. Confusingly it has seven-bearing six-cylinder engines from the sibling W108 saloons, which is good for 148bhp. 280SE replaces it in 1968. Specification is high – discs all round, swing axle load compensator with optional power-assisted steering and automatic gearbox.

    Final and best W111 Coupé, the V8 280SE with 200bhp 3499cc engine, is available in 1968, while a cabriolet arrives the following year. Both are capable of 125mph, and a sub-10sec 0-60mph. They now have power-assisted steering and an automatic gearbox as standard.

    The four-speed automatic gearbox has a fluid coupling, instead of the torque converter found in lesser examples. A four-speed manual gearbox is offered at a reduced price.

    Production ends in 1971, with just 3270 examples of the V8 coupé and 1232 cabriolets built. Replaced by the C107 350 SLC.


    Car #1971 #Mercedes-Benz-280SE-3.5-W111 / #Mercedes-Benz-W111 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-280SE-3.5-Coupe-W111
    Price £34,950
    Contact Charles Ironside, Alton, Hampshire (, 01420 520635)
    Engine 3499cc sohc V8
    Power 200bhp @ 5400rpm
    Torque 211lb [email protected]
    Performance Top speed: 125mph;
    0-60mph: 9.3sec
    Fuel consumption 18mpg
    Length 4880mm
    Width 1845mm

    INSURANCE £160

    Interior has light signs of age but importantly there have been no leaks from the sunroof. V8 powerplant fi res up straight off the key and delivers pleasing amounts of shove.
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  •   artere reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Simon Holmes updated the picture of the group Ferrari F40
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  •   artere reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Simon Holmes updated the cover photo for Ferrari F40
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  •   artere reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    1989 #Ferrari F40 £750,000

    While its history may be enigmatic, this 201mph missile’s condition makes it truly special, says Richard Gunn.

    Even among Ferraris, the F40 stands out as a true great – a pin-up model for the late-Eighties and one of the world’s most revered supercars. A total of 1311 were built but only around 80 came to the UK, all in left-hand drive. Others have since joined them, like this one.

    It has seen very little use during its 26-year life, showing just 20,316 kilometres (12,623 miles) and is in original condition save for a sports exhaust, fire extinguisher and racing harnesses.

    However, there is no history beyond its most recent service. It was a comprehensive one though, undertaken by a Ferrari specialist in Italy to the tune of £22,000. Two of the big jobs taken care of – cambelts (which should be replaced every two years) and rubber fuel cells (ditto every 10 years). This F40 has next to flawless paintwork. Go in close and you’ll spot a few isolated stonechips on the nose, plus what looks like a small patch of touch-up paint on the driver’s side rear wheelarch edge adjacent to the engine lid. Aside from the driver’s door edge standing a little proud, panel fit is excellent. The rubbers in the doors and surrounding windows haven’t perished at all. Very good Bridgestone Expedia tyres are fitted and are, correctly 245/40-17 at the front and road-roller-ish 335/35-17s at the rear. The polished Ferrari alloys they surround are mark-free.

    You need two people to lift and prop open the substantial engine lid. But it’s worth the effort, for the V8 on this F40 is finely detailed, with no grime or grease. Climb over the substantial sills and settle in the figure-hugging bucket seats and you’re confronted by a spartan environment – no carpets, not even mats and a boltedover glovebox aperture. However, the stark lack of trim means there’s very little to wear and aside from a few shoe scuffs to the floor and the odd loose stitch, the interior is immaculate.

    It’s difficult to describe what the F40 does as anything less than awe-inspiring, even intimidating. This one fi res up enthusiastically. But, like most supercars, it needs to warm up properly before the driving experience becomes properly rewarding. So the five-speed transmission is initially recalcitrant to shift but frees up once water and oil temperature gauge needles swing towards the centre. They stayed healthy throughout, with no signs of overheating. The clutch is a leg-full, but is very smooth and direct, with no slipping detected. Though not power-assisted the steering is light, which is correct. There’s no hint of play, and the brakes are ferociously effective and stop this F40 quickly in a straight line. It feels like this car has barely covered 12 miles, let alone over 12,000. It’s that good.


    Ferrari commemorates its 40th anniversary by launching the F40 in 1987, a mid-engined supercar sporting a 2936cc twin-turbo V8 engine good for 478bhp. At £197,000 it is the most powerful and expensive car the marque has ever sold to the public. Raw interior shows bare carbonfibre tub. Traditional roll-down windows are adopted after the first 50 cars sport sliding Perspex windows. The LM model, built by Michelotto and boasting 850-900bhp, sees the F40 enter racing in 1989. Modifications take the form of wider wheels, reinforced chassis, deeper front airdam, plexiglass lights, stiffer suspension and uprated brakes.

    Further evolution results in the #Ferrari-F40-Competizione . A catalytic convertor is fitted to 1991 model-year cars. Height adjustable suspension also becomes an option. Ferrari ups the power to 515bhp to combat the extra weight gain inflicted by these additions. Production of the F40 comes to an end in 1992 after 1311 are built.


    CAR #1989 #Ferrari-F40
    Price £750,000
    Contact Tom Hartley, Overseal, Swadlincote,
    Derbyshire (, 01283 762762)
    Engine 2936cc V8, QOHC
    Power 478bhp @ 7000rpm
    Torque 425lb ft @ 4000rpm
    Top speed: 201mph
    0-60mph: 3.8sec
    Fuel consumption: 16mpg
    Length: 4430mm Width: 1981mm

    INSURANCE £1467
    YEAR, GARAGED CALL: 01277 206911

    Bare, race-bred cockpit looks like it’s hardly been sat in. Seats are no-nonsense Nomex. Low-mileage engine has had an expensive cambelt service. That’s ‘expensive’ as in £22k.
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    The #Peugeot-504-Coupe , 1969-1983 the pretty boy / #Peugeot-504 / #Peugeot

    Gone, missed opportunity. A few years ago you would have a good 504 coupe and even useful Cab can purchase for medium four-figure sums Rios. Meanwhile, moves the elegant cabriolet beyond the 20,000 euros. Only the coupe are still affordable, but are becoming increasingly rare. If you them a neat and affordable copy, you can be sure that it is a safe investment. The styled by Pininfarina four-seater convinces even today with space, charm and style. The four-cylinder in the bow is not a muscle man power, but arrived to feel good in 504. And if the French Beau then comes to rest in front of the crackling decorated with cheese and baguette picnic blanket, it is left to the imagination, what happens after the first red wine glasses.

    Model: Peugeot 504 Coupe
    Engine / Transmission: 4-cyl series, V6, water-cooled, 1.8-2.6 litres, 5-speed
    Power: 97-144 hp
    Original price: 37.000 DM (V6 Coupé), the market value (2 states.): 12,000 euros
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  •   Chris Nicholls reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Full-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
    CAPACITY: 4799cc
    MAX POWER: 360hp
    MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft
    TOP SPEED: 153mph
    0-62MPH: 6.1 seconds
    ECONOMY: 20.9mpg

    Out on the road the surprising thing is how well the X5 hides its vast mass
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