BMW X5 F15 or how to transform from an mobster car into a family car. Here’s how BMW managed to turn a car so disastrous it was brilliant, into a mundane and tame car.
I say that because the BMW X5 F15 is not really a new X5 as the Germans would have us believe, but rather a serious facelift of the BMW X5 E70. Anyway, it’s not the first time in German car history that this has happened…
Except that the 3rd generation X5 has lost its charm. The first X5 was pretty much a truck with massage seats, but at least it paved the way for opulent tractors. Then came along the second generation, one of the official chariots of the 2008 crisis. A time when people didn’t look at money and the concepts of “financial responsibility” or “economy” didn’t exist in the vocabulary of humanity. A time when engineers did all the experiments they wanted because no matter how expensive the repairs were afterwards, the customers paid. Except that the crisis came and swept away many excessive cars. Surprisingly, the X5 survived so it moved on. Except BMW wanted to shed the image of cars for mobsters and douchebags and people with a mad need to flaunt their worth and wanted to go into the business zone. That means that on one side they solved old issues but on the other side they brought new ones.
BMW X5 F15 Engines
- 3.0 N55 Turbo of 306 horsepower – The same N55 lemon that somehow managed to gather all the issues under the sun and put them under the hood of the BMW X5 F15. Definitely an engine you want to avoid more than you want to avoid a date with Fred West. Turbo issues, high pressure fuel pump issues, oil leaks and so on.
- 4.4 N62 V8 of 450 horsepower – It’s obvious that the BMW engineers had no interest in taking the idea of a V8 engine in a big car any further, so they left the N63 virtually unchanged. And still, the turbos are between the cylinder banks, so reliability is guaranteed the same the typical X5 driver will guarantee that no harm will come to you.
- 2.0d N47 and B47 of 218 and 231 horsepower – I discussed the differences between the N47 and B47 in depth in the F30 3 Series article. As summary, you want the 231 horsepower facelift diesel. But do you really want an X5 with a 2-litre diesel and rear-wheel drive? Are you really that aspirational to get an X5 in name and looks alone?
- 3.0d N57 of 258, 313 and 381 horsepower – Power, in this case, is given by the number of turbos the engine has, as for example the 381 horsepower M50d version is actually not a 5.0 diesel but a 3.0 diesel with 3 turbos (3!!). But for the X5 owner it’s more important to look fast than to be fast. Do I need to tell you more about the timing belt sitting at the back of the engine and the fact that it has more issues than post-brexit UK?
2.0 petrol + electric of 313 horsepower – I’d write about it, but nobody bought it. That’s because the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV came with the same proposition but at half the price. Plus, already on the Outlander a 2.0 petrol is a far-fetched joke, putting a 2.0 petrol to pull the 8000 tons of BMW X5 F15 is like having Graham Norton carry Andre the Giant on his back.
BMW X5 F15 General Issues
- You could say that a BMW X5 F15 would be reliable because it’s a massive facelift of the E70, and you’d be wrong. Big issues on the electronics side, as BMW forgot to put insulation on the wires and plugs so every time it rains you’ll be preparing a repair estimate.
- The electronics are so bad on the BMW X5 F15 that it’s very easy to steal one. Basically, we’re back to the days of the first X5 when lots of people brought them at 100% discount. Except back then you needed a crowbar and some guts, today you just need software to clone the key signal.
- Air suspension is more sensitive than Piers Morgan, especially the rear airbags. As with the previous generation, every time you hit a pothole you’ll have to set another 50 euros aside for the inevitable moment when they will fail.
- The automatic gearbox is “Sealed for Life” in the sense that Wham is eternal in our hearts. And in the case of the automatic transmission, every 60,000 miles. Because the automatic gearbox shouldn’t be the cause of death for the car, scenario in which it technically is lifetime.
- For those who have an all-wheel drive on their BMW X5 F15, and unfortunately, I have to specify this because there is a rear-wheel drive-only version, beware of the drive shaft which will inevitably fail and cost so much that you could buy a first-generation X5 for that money.
- Special mention for tires, tires that must be the same make, same model, same size and same wear. Otherwise, your transfer case explodes like when I opened my OnlyFans account. Oh yeah, and the X5 tires have special sizes that are hard to find and most tire shops don’t have them.
BMW X5 F15 Verdict
Still a car of excess, lots of it, expensive and not very reliable. Only now it’s tried to get out of the mobster world and into the family-business zone. Sort of a modern attempt at the BMW E90 concept, which wanted to get out of the chav zone and into the executive-premium zone. And frankly speaking, the fancy suits and big wigs are pretty much the only ones who buy BMW X5 F15s anymore because they usually buy them new, keep them while they have active warranty and then sell them off to the balkans.
What engines do you recommend? For petrol, I’d probably recommend the 3.0 and 306 horsepower unit, and the 258 horsepower 3.0d diesel because it has a single turbo so less issues. But to recommend the N57’s with one turbo versus the one with three turbos is like pushing you off the 5th floor instead of the 7th floor.