The first-generation of this premium SUV looks even better now
This was BMW’s first venture into the lucrative world of the SUV. Being BMW, it didn’t go all back to basics, and focus on the ability to conquer the Rubicon Trail. Instead it launched an SUV with a car-like architecture and suspension tuned almost exclusively for the road. As a result it was an SUV you could drive without making too many compromises. The market loved it.
That first model was made from 2000 to 2006 and it’s still a solid performer both on the road and in the buying and selling stakes. Back in 2000 it was launched with a 4.4-litre V8 making 286bhp – it’s unlikely BMW would do the same thing now for a launch. Some months later the sensible engine option arrived, but if you were expecting a fuel-sipping diesel you’d have been surprised by the 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine making 231bhp.
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It wasn’t until spring the following year that the 3.0-litre diesel, with 184bhp, arrived on the market, and that instantly became the best seller. To make amends for this sensible engine, BMW banged out the 4.6-litre V8 S petrol engine with 374bhp at the same time.
By 2003 it was time for a minor styling rethink, which attended to both front and back of the car – so a facelift and a…back lift or something. Lights, bumpers, that sort of thing changed, and while it was at it BMW upped the diesel to 218bhp. All sensible stuff, but again BMW seemed to feel compelled to overcompensate. The 4.4-litre V8 jumped to 320bhp while the 4.6-litre became a 4.8, with 360bhp.
BMW made much of the fact that the 4.8-litre didn’t use any more fuel, but since the 4.6 struggled to make 20mpg that’s not such a convincing claim.
There were auto and manual gearboxes, now with six speeds, but that 3.0-litre petrol engine kept the five-speed. There’s a core of people who still crave the manual X5s for reasons of purity we guess. Although the X5 had always had four-wheel drive, the revamp included the generally smarter xDrive system.
There were quite a lot of trim levels and choices, from the soft-riding SE to the exclusive Le Mans Blue Sports Edition which had monster 20-inch alloys.
They sound great don’t they? If you feel like taking it further, here are a few things to bear in mind.
Check all the engine variants for coolant leaks, and remember you’ll need a new water pump once the clock hits 100,000. The water-cooled alternator is worth checking too. The pre-facelift V8 can have leaking rocker gaskets, breather hoses that have breathed their last and plastic timing chain guides that can get noisy.
The transmission has ‘lifetime fluid’ – and it’s recommended it’s changed every 70,000 miles. This is a chunky old SUV so be aware that it has a high-fibre diet of brake pads and discs, as well as bushes, CV boots and ball joints. Yum.
So, how much money do you need to get the X5 that’s right for you?
If you fancy trying an early 3.0-litre Sport with either diesel or petrol engine then it could be yours for £1800 to £3000. Naturally you get what you pay for. If you had £3000 to £4500 then you could find tidier versions of the 3.0 Sport, with FSH and even some later facelifted versions.
£5000 to £7000 is where you’ll find the popular 3.0 diesel Sports, with under 100,000 on the clocks. Going up to the £7000 to £9000 area brings the mileages down and year further on, so you could get a late 06 plate 3.0 diesel Sport or even that rare Le Mans version.