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Reader test: BMW X5 3.0SD

2008-08-18 14:59

Nimrod Barlev

I recently read a local “road test” on this car on another website.

I think that the odds on the “tester” actually having seen the car much less driven it would be the same as the odds on the Senegal U15B ladies team beating the Springboks in a test mach.

The road tester went on about the twin turbo feature that has no lag to speak of (wrong!) and the fuel consumption figures of 8.2l per 100km for a combined cycle (maybe if you’re being towed).

This road test seemed like a mixture between a BMW pamphlet and a Raymond E. Feist fantasy novel. So I decided to give an honest review of this car; here goes…

Some of you may have read my previous reader review of the BMW M5. That car I hated as it had the worst gearbox ever fitted onto any car ever so I really wasn’t upset to see it go. I was, however, upset by the shocking trade-in price - R200k gone in 12 months. Ouch!

From an M to an X

So it was that three months ago that I took delivery of my new X5 3.0 SD. I really had to wait for the SD model as opposed to the normal 3.0d because, as my last five cars have been Ms (with one AMG in there as well), I was wary of going from super-car fast to soccer-mom slow. And honestly, I’m not disappointed.

Sure, the X5 has nowhere near the power and exhilaration of the M cars, but if you consider that this is a 2.5 ton diesel SUV, the performance is astonishing.

Combine that with a really smooth, quiet drive and a gearbox that can actually change gears, and you end up with a very satisfying package indeed.

I specced the car with the sports pack and 20-inch wheels, and it's black with cream leather… I know you’re thinking I probably wear big gold chains and deal in Ukrainian prostitutes for a living, but just look at it, it’s beautiful!

Aggressive without being too bling-bling, muscular but not vulgar and in my mind, the best looking combination you can have.

As with all BMWs, the car basically comes standard with the doors and the key, so getting it up to scratch costs a fortune. But some of the extras I got are so cool!

I love the keyless access and the huge sunroof. The seven-logic sound is brilliant and I have an iPod connection that syncs with i Drive and that is just awesome.

One box I forgot to tick was the folding mirrors option. In a car the width of the QE2 with side mirrors Dumbo would be envious of, tight parking spaces are a challenge.

The good, and not-so-good, stuff:

This vehicle knows exactly what it is supposed to be - a big, fast, comfortable, spacious and exclusive package - and it does this brilliantly.

And for something that should have the drag co-efficient of an army barracks, the fuel consumption is great. Not quite what fantasy-man in the article I mentioned earlier said, but still not bad. The best I could manage was 10 l/100 km, and that was with the cruise control set to 110km/h. My combined cycle is in the high thirteens.

The iDrive system seems to have been upgraded as well as it is much faster and more intuitive than on my old car.

The main drawback of thisvehicle is the type of diesel that it uses. It’s called ULS (Ultra Low Sulphur), which is great for the environment, burns cleaner, saves the polar bears blah, blah, blah. The point is it’s only available at certain petrol stations. This means that you have to plan long distance trips carefully because if you don’t, you won’t find the correct diesel.

At least you get a huge tank which, combined with the good fuel efficiency, means that you can do 900km on a tank on the highway.

The interior of the car is nice, but the stalks and sun visors have a cheapish feel to them when compared to my M5.


I can summarise this review for you inthree simple points:
1. X5 3.0 SD is a really good car, I would definitely recommend it.
2. In case you didn’t read my last review, never buy a car with an SMG gearbox; it is rubbish.
3. Liverpool will win the premier league next season

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