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High-five for M-look X5

M-spec SUV: X5's first M options pack makes for an aggressive new look.

BMW waves its M wand over the X5 for the first time, but it’s more show than go

24 Oct 2008

IT MAY have taken nine years to materialise, but the closest thing to a fully fledged 'MX5' Germany will ever produce has arrived in Australia in the shape of the X5 M Sport Package.

On sale in the UK since June 2007 and now available here across the second-generation X5 line-up, the mostly-cosmetic M Sport kit remains faithful to BMW’s policy of applying the hallowed M badge only to names of models that follow the M performance division philosophy - a policy that has produced icons like the M3, M5, M6 and Z4 M, but which has so far excluded SUVs.

The move also makes BMW’s original large off-roader the second X model after the mid-sized X3 to receive an M Sport options package (which costs just $3707 across the range), and makes future M Sport kits for the X6 'coupe' and forthcoming X1 small-SUV almost a certainty.

But for as long as the M5’s voracious petrol V10 remains absent from under the US-built luxury SUV’s bonnet, which could be for a while given the current environmental and economic climates, BMW remains without a direct competitor for super-SUVs like the 6.2-litre V8-powered ML63 AMG from arch-rival Mercedes-Benz and Porsche’s Cayenne GTS (which also costs more than $160,000, not to mention the Cayenne Turbo.

Nor does it make the new flagship of the E70-series X5 range, the 4.8i M Sport, a replacement for either the previous-generation E53 X5 4.8is, or the E53 X5 4.6is before it.

At $127,300, it has the same 261kW/465Nm 4.8-litre V8 as the X5 4.8i on which it's based, but the X5 4.8is cost $156,500 when last sold in February 2007 and offered a more powerful 265kW/490Nm 4.8-litre V8 than the X5 4.4i of the time, while the 4.6is cost $152,300 when last sold in October 2003 and packed a 255kW/480Nm 4.6-litre V8.

14 center imageNevertheless, apart from an 'M-provised' body kit and cabin treatment, the X5 M Sport Package does offer a more focussed level of chassis tune via M Sport Suspension and 19-inch V-spoke M light alloy wheels (style 223 M) with 255/50 R19 front and 285/45 R19 rear run-flat or “Safety” tyres, with which snow chains cannot be fitted.

That makes the M Sport pack’s rear rubber significantly wider than that of even the flagship X5 4.8i, which runs 255/50 R19s all round (with Y-spoke 211-pattern alloys). It also dwarfs the 255/55 R18s and 209-style star-spoke alloys on the X5 3.0si and 3.0d, and the same-sized 210-style star-spoke wheels and tyres of the X5 3.0 Executive and hi-po 3.0sd variants.

But the same staggered-width 19-inch set-up, albeit in a different alloy wheel design, is available as part of the existing X5 Sport Package, which also comprises BMW Sport powered front seats with driver’s memory, BMW Individual anthracite headlining and Sport suspension.

However, while the Sport pack costs $8367 with the X5 3.0si and 3.0d, $4767 with the 3.0si/3.0d/3.0sd Executive and $2754 for the X5 4.8i, the M Sport pack is priced at a cool $11,000 for X5 3.0si/d, $8000 for the X5 3.0si/d/sd Executives and $5400 for the X5 4.8i.

X5 M Sport customers also gain exclusive access to a 227-style 20-inch M alloy wheel option, which includes 275/40 R20 front and simply huge 315/35 R20 rear run-flat tyres, for a further $2648. The M Sport kit’s price is reduced by $635 if the Adaptive Drive chassis feature is specified because it replaces M Sport suspension.

So for an additional $2633, $3233 and $2646 over the respective Sport packs, which present only subtle front-end styling changes over standard X5 variants, the M Sport pack boasts the full BMW M Aerodynamics Package including wider wheel-arches, sports side skirts and front and rear bumpers and body-coloured door strips.

As mentioned, there are also firmer M Sport damper settings and spring rates, plus identically-sized M alloy wheels, as well as BMW Individual Exterior Line features including satin-finish aluminium side window surrounds and high-gloss satin chrome=finish roof-rails (instead of matt-black).

Inside, compared with the X5 Sport pack, the M Sport treatment brings the same BMW Individual anthracite headlining but adds a leather M steering wheel, brushed aluminium trim highlights and, for the X5 4.8i, powered Comfort seats with driver’s memory (Sport seats for six-cylinder models, as per the Sport pack).

The BMW X5 M Sport Package is available with five metallic exterior paint colours (Titanium Silver, Space Grey, Monaco Blue, Black Sapphire and Carbon Black) and just one solid exterior paint colour - Alpine White.

Metallic paint costs an extra $1800 across the range, which opens with the 200kW/315Nm 3.0-litre petrol X5 3.0si ($86,635), the 160kW/500Nm 3.0-litre diesel X5 3.0d ($88,541), the X5 3.0si Executive ($96,699), the X5 3.0d Executive ($98,604), the 200kW/565Nm twin-turbo diesel X5 3.0sd ($105,490) and the X5 4.8i ($121,908).

X5 M Sport Package pricing:
4.8i $5400
3.0i/3.0d/3.0sd Executive $8000
3.0i/3.0d $11,000
20-inch M wheels $2648

Read more:

First look: BMW dials M for X5

The Road to Recovery podcast series

GoAuto can help you buy a new X5

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