Well, folks, the day has come. Youâve shined your shoes. Youâve worn your good suit. Youâve called your wife and excitedly announced: âHoney, Iâll be late tonight!â Youâve refreshed TTAC for days, weeks, months, only to discover that now, finally, theyâre here: photos of the all-new BMW X5.
Of course, Iâm kidding. You probably saw those X5 photos yesterday on Jalopnik and scrolled right past them, thinking: Do they have any Russian dash cam videos today?
But photos of an all-new X5 are a big deal. Thatâs because our nationâs streets will soon be flooded with them, each driven by someone who believes that no drive is complete without a little texting. And so, on the occasion of this grand unveiling, Iâve decided to take you through some of the BMW X5âs hallowed history.
It all started in the late 1980s. Thatâs when BMW decided to pander to Europeâs cold-climate families by offering an all-wheel drive version of its 5-Series station wagon. Prior to that, said families were stuck driving either a) a diesel Mercedes wagon, or b) a Unimog. BMW never sold the 525xiT here in the US, but if it had, Iâm sure no one wouldâve purchased it.
Anyway: following the runaway success of the 525xiT, which probably even managed to convince a few Swedes not to buy a Volvo, BMW decided to embark on an entirely new project: an SUV. Development began in the 1990s, and by model year 2000, the X5 had hit the streets.
But BMW was late to the party, since Mercedes already debuted the M-Class in 1998. Then again, maybe itâs a good thing Mercedes waited, since the M-Class was 40 percent luxury SUV and 60 percent panel gaps the size of a paper towel dispenser. (Actually, thatâs mean: the M-Class is highly important to our nationâs history, since it singlehandedly saved Julianne Moore from being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.)
While the first-generation X5 was largely a dull SUV driven by people who compliment each otherâs handbags, there are two important models Iâd like to point out:
1. The stick shift. Yes, thatâs right: from 2001 through 2006, you could get an X5 with a manual transmission. There were a few caveats. Most importantly, it was only available on the six-cylinder engine, which was so gutless it probably wouldâve allowed Julianne Moore to be eaten. (For those eager to point out the ML320 had less power, Iâd like to remind you that Julianne Moore couldâve hidden in the panel gaps.)
Also: it was a five-speed from 2001 through 2003, then a six-speed in the years that followed. This is important because first was an unusable âcrawler gear,â designed for all those people who pull out tree stumps using their X5. (Note: no one has ever done this in the history of the X5. In other words, it was probably featured prominently in a brochure.)
2. The 4.6is. This is a far more important version of the X5. Back then, BMW didnât want to make an âMâ version of its X5 for fear of bastardizing the high-performance division (a fear which went away a few years later one they realized how much money they could make). But they did want to do a performance model. The result was the 4.6is, which was offered from 2002 to 2004.
BMW fans are probably wondering why Iâm not including the 2005-2007 4.8is, which was an even higher performance model. Thereâs a reason for that: it wasnât available in Estoril Blue. You see, while the X5 4.6is had to make do with only 315 horsepower, the availability of Estoril Blue places it only just behind the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing on the list of âmost attractive vehicles ever conceptualized.â Iâm not kidding: say what you will about SUVs, but this thing looked awesome. Thereâs one for sale locally with a red interior, and I would happily buy it, if not for the fact that its annual maintenance budget would be similar to that 300SL Gullwing.
On with our history lesson. In 2007, the X5 reached another milestone: its first redesign. By that I mean: it still looked approximately the same, but it was around 600 pounds heavier.
Actually, while exterior changes werenât drastic, the interior was heavily updated. For instance: gone was the previous modelâs normal transmission selector. In its place was a silver thing shaped like a defective potato chip.
Since the manual was gone, the only highlight of the 2007-2013 X5 was the availability of the high-performance X5M. Once again offered in a blue color that makes me weak at the knees, the X5M used a turbocharged V8 that made 555 horsepower. Iâve actually driven an X5M on a racetrack, and the experience was quite amazing. It went like this:
1. Slide inside the sporty, glove-like bucket seats.
2. Press the start button; hear the enormous V8 roar to life.
3. Put the potato chip in Drive.
4. Hang on for dear life.
Actually, the X5M was quite composed on the track, as Iâm sure the all-new model will be as well. My only hope is that they continue to offer that gorgeous blue color. Even if camouflage would be better for escaping Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Doug DeMuro operates Media Heâs owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North Americaâs youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.Related
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