On Friday, September 22, the very last of the first generation X5 (known to BMW and to in-the-know enthusiasts as the E53) was produced by BMW Manufacturing at the plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The X5 was BMW’s first Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) which could not only handle offroad duties with all-wheel drive, but also exhibited performance and handling characteristics of the cars for which BMW is known.
The last E53 X5, to be kept by the factory and exhibited at the Zentrum museum, features a straight six 3.0 liter engine, a Truffle Brown leather interior, dark poplar wood trim, and is wrapped in Toledo Blue paint. The SAV was the 616,867th produced by BMW, and was finished almost 7 years to the day after the first X5 cleared production on September 1, 1999.
As one era ends, another begins. BMW is preparing the launch of the next-generation X5 (known as the E70). Hitting BMW showrooms in the U.S. in November, the new X5 will initially be available as a straight six X5 3.0si (with a base MSRP of $46,595) and a V8 X5 4.8i (with a base MSRP of $55,195).
Both models feature BMW’s Valvetronic technology and offer more power than their predecessors. The X5 3.0si will produce 260 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque (a gain of 35 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque), while the X5 4.8i will produce 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque (a gain of 35 hp and 26 lb-ft of torque).
Other upgrades over the previous version include six-speed Steptronic transmissions standard in both models, 18-inch wheels and tires on the 3.0si (compared with 17-inch on its predecessor), and Xenon Adaptive headlights. These were previously an option on the X5 3.0i.
Audio enthusiasts will be happy to find that the sound system in the new X5 features a 205-watt 12-speaker system as standard with subwoofers under the front seats, and, more importantly, an MP3-compatible CD player AND an auxiliary input jack for an iPod or other audio player.
The new X5 features a variety of options, which we will cover in more detail after the official press launch, but a significant new option is a third-row seat for seating up to seven. BMW is also offering its Active Steering technology for the first time on an all-wheel drive vehicle. In addition, a Technology Package is available which features not only BMW’s navigation system and park distance control, but a new rearview camera for safety when backing up or parking.
Enthusiasts will get their first glimpse of the new 2007 BMW X5 in the flesh when it makes its world debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2006. Stay tuned to Roadfly for updates, driving impressions, and photos of the new X5 in action.