• ONE CAR DOES ALL

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    BMW X5 continues to set the benchmark for premium sport-utes that truly are sporty and useful

    WHY BMW went all marketing faddish and chose to label its line of SUVs as “Sports Activity Vehicles,” I don’t get. Especially when such “SAVs” count the X5 among its ilk. The X5, quite simply, is the sport-utility vehicle defined.

    Unlike other premium carmakers that cashed in on the sport-ute craze—around

    half of cars sold worldwide these days are not “cars” in the traditional sense anymore but SUVs and other crossover mutations—BMW had things right down pat when it built the first X5, which was the brand’s first stab at an SUV. The first X5 was sizeable without being huge, had decent off-road prowess, and was styled to belong in the BMW stable—not just a tall car with kidney grilles slapped onto it. Best, its cabin was as luxurious as the higher-end BMWs, and it drove like one, too, which means it was no clumsy sloth.

    In the second-gen X5 that followed, the car retained all this good stuff and received sheet metal that’s crisper and muscular, yet trimmer. Through the years the car was lavished with BMW’s latest techie bits as well, and the X5 shown here—an xDrive 30d (Price: P6.390 million)—is no exception. It could even be regarded as the best evolution of the second-gen X5 (a new one is already out elsewhere on the planet).

    Under its hood is proof that BMW has nearly perfected the diesel mill. Fire this 3.0-liter up and that dreaded diesel clatter is all perceptible only if you stick your head ins

    ide the engine bay. Even when the throttle is floored, the exhaust note is pleasant—there must be some trick sound engineering at work here. Plus, with 245 horsepower coming in at around 4,000rpm and 540 Newton-meter of torque from as low as 1,4

    00rpm, this engine certainly isn’t lacking in power.

    Harnessing the power is a super-smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic ge

    arbox whose sheer number of cogs available means the engine is always at a happy setting either for saving fuel or for exploiting its output. In diesel mills having more cogs lead to awesome pull. Sending the grunt to the wheels—all four, actually—is BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system that incorporates sundry traction and stability nannies by means of sensors and computer wizardry. I’m no off-road guy, but I’m sure the X5 can cop

    e with most of the rough outdoorsy stuff X5 owners do—like driving to the country

    club.

    During a long-weekend stint with the X5 30d, blasts through the back roads of Alfonso and Silang in Cavite proved the grunt of this engine, its miserly

    ways at sipping fuel, as well as the really delightful steering response of the car. True, its ride is on the firm side, and I’d opt for smaller alloys to get more rubber to make things comfier. But still, it’s not something to whine about. If I sound like I’m fawning, that’s because I am.

    Only a week previous to that X5 30d stint, I was also able to drive an X5 M at the Clark Speedway. And while I’m sure the top M variant will smoke the 30d in corner-carving, I’m equally certain the 30d is still peerless in its class. The way it shifts directions, the manner with which its steering communicates, the urgency of its responses—all seem to defy Newton’s work as you’re awed at how something this big could be so athletic. Car guys know when a car is simply delightful to drive: The faster you drive it, the smaller it gets.

    And, yes, there’s that thing—size. The X5 is big. But big in this case does n

    ot mean cumbersome. Big, in the X5’s case, means ample space for five pampered people on board and loads of luggage or fashionable “lifestyle” gear in the back (or fashionable luggage). Big here means a tall stance off the ground. So, in terms of ticking off the “practicality” and “utility” boxes, the X5 has got that covered.

    When it comes to luxury kit, there’s no shortage either, with a list of options as long

    as, well, the last SONA, only infinitely more appealing. Leather-everything, fancy buttons, multimedia, electric adjustments, cubbies, snazzy lighting, posh trim—the X5 30d is packed.

    The definitive sport-ute indeed.

     

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