The question that has been bouncing around my head for a while now is whether BMW’s new xDrive system is truly superior to their first AWD drive effort for the 5 in 2000. The xDrive system is currently offered in the 3 series xi variants, X3 and X5 the system which typically splits torque in a similar way to the previous generation AWD in the X5, by sending 40 percent to the front and 60 percent to the rear, now can send nearly all available torque to either end, depending on conditions. The xDrive is an electronically controlled limited-slip center differential which replaces an open differential that relied on traction control to distribute torque. In icy condition, for example, torque will increase to the front wheel and subsequently be decreased in the back, with the possibility of all torque spinning the front wheels. Getting all torque to the rear wheels requires special circumstances since the vehicle is set permanently to AWD. If, however, the X5 is understeering or the antilock braking function is on, all torque is sent outback. As a result, xDrive is meant to both keep the vehicle moving in tough conditions and enhance driving in normal conditions. On the X3, xDrive is completely disabled automatically when 112 mph (180 km/h) is reached. I’m confident that the same default would apply to all available systems.
So is xDrive better? In actuality, it was only in the snow did I perceive a clear advantage of the xDrive over the old AWD system. The xDrive system reacts quicker to traction loss, working hard to keep you traveling on your intended path (just make sure you’re not looking at that lovely Redwood tree at the distance!). Up until extreme situations, the old system worked just as fine, a testament to BMW’s talent for building great cars and technology. The xDrive also works more seamlessly; you don’t feel the change of power as much. However, when the road is wet, really wet, even the xDrive can get overwhelmed. The system combined with the tires could only do so much. If you plan to cruise along like a low flying ballistic missile at over 100 mph in the wet, you’re bound to still feel a bit of aqua planning, you just have more confidence that the car can handle it all. Faster than that and you would need to have your head checked, the laws of physics still apply friends.
BMW launched the X5 in the U.S. in the model year 2000. The mission of the vehicle was to offer the hallmark BMW driving experience in a sport utility package. What we found from the very first drive, coincidently with the actual X5 3.0i Sport unit with now the DINAN package on these pages, was that it hit the bull’s eye. Yes, it drove as a BMW should, but it also offered the high seating position, load flexibility, and off-pavement abilities of an SUV. While the new facelifted X5 sports a more powerful 4.4 liter V8, up by 25hp to a tune of a wicked 315 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to Valvetronic technology and a variable intake manifold borrowed from the 745Li, fuel economy also has improved slightly automatic transmission is now standard on the 4.4i as well. The 3.0i engine has remained the same. Surely the new magnesium Valvetronic engine on the 6 series and all-new 3 series will find its way into the X5 very soon. Until then the US market can enjoy a BMW North America sanctioned aftermarket upgrade through DINAN, a company known for its long-standing dedication to enhancing BMW cars. The BMW factory warranty is not voided using DINAN products installed by the DINAN factory.
DINAN offers a comprehensive performance package that adds some vital zest to an aging X5 3.0i. The kits offer the driving enthusiast a noticeable increase in power output for faster acceleration and the unmistakable sound of the performance, via a considerably louder exhaust, too loud for the taste. The system features a fully matched Stage 3 Engine Software, the High flow Throttle Body and Free Flow Exhaust, bumping horsepower to 236 @ 5900 rpm. An effective aluminum Strut Tower Brace is included, enhancing chassis rigidity for improved steering response. Rounding up the package, which they call the Signature Series, is a performance automatic transmission software upgrade that allows the X5 3.0 to shift marginally faster and when used on manual mode offers less between shift while holding each gear a little longer before upshifting automatically. The ECU software removes the speed governor and allows the engine to reach a little deeper into the redline by no less than another 200 RPMs.
Is it worth the extra money to put the exclusive DINAN moniker at the back of the X5? Well, yes. If you love the car and want to lengthen its duty to you with a little more fun. But if you hadn’t thrown down a huge sum to be the first guy on the block to have one, you can buy, with years of saving, the greatest X5 of all, and I have driven all of them. The 4.8is, up from 4.6is of last year with a US$8,000.00 premium over sticker! The top of the line BMW X5, the 4.8is is almost US$ 20,000.00 cheaper than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo! The X5 4.8is is hardly a sloth compared to the Porsche. Unrestricted, this big boy in blue will catapult itself to a top speed of 153 mph (245 km/h) which is the very serious speed for an SUV or as BMW likes to call them, SAV; unfortunately, our test car had the 128mph governor to keep things sane.
Its handling was flawless and the xDrive seamlessly gained control when the car was in situations that would normally trigger either understeer or oversteer. Brakes, even when wet, provided impressive stopping distances but everybody complained about how grabby the brakes were at the city pace. Residing behind the wheels are the same 14.0-inch front and 12.8 inch rear brake rotors from the 4.6is, good for a sports car like 168 foot stop from 70 mph. The first half-inch of brake pedal travel gets you exactly nothing, after which the binders bite down, causing immediate and sudden deceleration. The touchy brakes combined with the transmission’s premature downshifting make smooth stopping difficult. We kept thinking that perhaps the press unit we got may have some gremlins to sort out. With brakes this strong we may begin to argue why we would need 4 piston aluminum caliper Brembo brakes!
Our test unit particularly awesome not because of its 32 valve DOHC 4.8-liter engine stroked by 3.3 millimeters to achieve the extra 200cc displayed on the badge over the previous 4.6, but because it had every single option installed from the full glass moonroof, the navigational system, the updated interior to go with the facelift, the power rear seats and so much more. A German V8 makes a completely different snort over an American V8, muscular but refined. This engine’s Valvetronic wrings out 355bhp and 360 lb/ft of torque, which is 40 more horsepower and 36 more pound-feet than the ’05 4.4 liter X5, but only an addition 15 horsepower and 10 pound-feet over the previous 4.6is.
The exhaust note is satisfying without having to drone when cruising, but I kept looking for excuses to floor it every chance I got! It was so much fun driving the X5 like it was a sports car. Just like an M5 or M3, the 4.8is had the signature gray instrument dials with the periodic tachometer that visually indicated your maximum rev until it reaches its optimal operating temperature. Even on real tight corners, I never lost adhesion from the massively gorgeous wheels with the same absurdly large Michelin Biamar tires the 4.6is, 275/40R 20’s in front and 315/35R 20’s in the back. The 4.8is never felt harsh nor uncomfortable, just bitter that I had to eventually return it after a week roaring through the back mountain roads of Nothern California. With acceleration from 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat, a half-second quicker than the 4.6, I see the rationale for such a vehicle, especially in the US where you could get good fuel mileage on the highways, which you would have to frequent, and the wide-open expanse of the continent allows you the total freedom to explore every inch of soil without any worry. I love it! The Porsche Cayenne Turbo may be faster and even quicker but the BMW 4.8is has it all at a huge discount, prestige, ability, safety looks, and above all, it’s more fun to drive.
The X5 is due for a full makeover very soon, which means these SAV’s will go on sale with huge factory rebates. I would have no shame in waiting for the opportunity to buy the flagship of the outgoing model, just look at the 5-year-old 3.0i DINAN on these pages still hugely capable, good looking, and practical, as long as you are no more than 5 people on board though.
BMW X5 3.0i (US Model) DINAN S Signature
Engine inline 6, 2979cc, dohc 24v
Max power (stock) 225 bhp @ 5900rpm
Max power(DINAN) 236 bhp @ 5900rpm
Max torque(stock) 214 lb ft @ 3500 rpm
Max torque(DINAN) 222 lb ft @ 3500rpm
0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) 8.6 sec (stock) 8.3 sec (DINAN)
Max speed(limited) 202 km/h (126 mph)
Max speed(de limited) 220 km/h (138 mph)
2005 BMW X5 4.8is
Engine V8, 4799cc, DOHC 32v
Max Power 355 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Max torque 360 lb ft @ 3400 rpm
0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) 6.2 sec
Max Speed 250 km/h (155mph) (limited)