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New BMW X5

There is a new BMW X5 ? this time with an extra row of seats.? Roomy the X5 always was but now with seating for seven, it moves the BMW closer to the Range Rover in terms of overall space and versatility.

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Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the X5 has established itself as one of the leading luxury SUVs and the latest model will see it remain at or close to the top, challenging the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the Volvo XC90 in this lucrative sector of the auto market.

There are three gasoline versions now available. The existing three liter and 4.4 engines are joined by a top-of-the-range 4.8 liter.? All are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, although the smallest motor can be had with a manual gearbox if preferred.? In some markets, notably Europe, a three liter diesel engine is available, but in its home market of the United States only gas models are currently offered.

The 4.8 liter gasoline X5 reaches 100 km/h from a standstill in just 6.5 seconds; pretty heady for a large SUV.? Maximum speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h

As you would expect at this level, the latest X5 has every imaginable extra built in, including power front seats, the driver?s with a memory that also resets the steering column to the correct angle and the exterior mirrors.? There are rain-sensing wipers, a quality audio system with CD player; there is also provision for an iPod.? Standard on the top model are 12 audio speakers. These are optional on the lesser models.

The extra row of seats increases the length of the X5 by around 20 cm but the styling remains much the same.? The second row of seats can be folded individually to increase load area, while for added convenience the rear tailgate is split horizontally with the upper section hinged at the top, the lower at the base.

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A high level of safety is built in to the X5, both active and passive.? All-wheel drive is standard, of course, but so too is four-wheel traction control.? An electronic torque splitter apportions drive to the rear under normal road conditions, but varies this if the terrain or weather dictates otherwise.? Weight distribution is close to a perfect 50:50, front to rear, while electronic brake proportioning adjusts the amount of retardation according to load and, of course, relative traction.

Inside there are two-stage front airbags, side bags and full-length air curtains.? Rear side bags are optional.? The front seat belts are provided with pre-tensioners and load limiters and are adjustable for height.? In the stringent Euro NCAP crash tests, the X5 was awarded five stars for occupant safety, although it must be said that for pedestrian safety the large SUV only scored a miserly one star (For more information on these tests or to see how your car is rated, go to www.euroncap.com).

The original X5 was launched in 1999 and more than half a million have been sold to date.? The latest version, with the extra seating capacity, will no doubt continue the trend, although some countries are currently railing against large SUVs because of their perceived contribution to depletion of resources and global warming.? London?s controversial mayor Ken Livingston in particular is firmly against all SUVs and has proposed a CO? charge of ?25 for cars such as large 4x4 vehicles which emit high levels of carbon dioxide. Livingstone intends to introduce the new charge by 2009 and, if successful, apply it London-wide by 2012.? Several other cities are monitoring the progress of Livingstone?s congestion charge which has been credited with reducing traffic jams and generally allowing cars to flow freely.? They may also take a closer look at this latest scheme as carbon dioxide pollution continues to increase.

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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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