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Spyshot: Bigger X5 allows for third row of seats

This is the BMW X5 MkII – although this model’s all-new chassis, dimensions and sheet metal aren’t immediately obvious, despite the minimal disguise.

BMW will launch the new sports SUV this autumn, with the first cars arriving in dealerships in spring 2007. Unlike every other BMW post-2001, the X5’s design is not a striking departure from its predecessor’s. Chris Bangle’s flame surfaces are kept to a minimum, and the blade-shaped headlamps are the funkiest touch.

The big change is the X5’s size. The growth spurt is around 160mm in length and wheelbase, making the X5 similar in size to a Range Rover Sport. This frees up sufficient space for an optional third row of seats and around 50 litres more boot space, while distancing the car from the X3 in size.

Gadgets include night vision, radar-governed cruise control and head-up display. An electronic parking brake figures alongside the iDrive dial for the first time, while the transmission selector moves to the steering column.

The new model shares components with the 5-series, but the suspension is overhauled to boost on road dynamics and refinement. Active anti-roll bars will tie down the body, while adaptive damping should offer a good trade off between sporty handling and comfort. Unlike Mercedes and Audi, there’s no air springs all round, though.

The SUV adopts the latest version of BMW’s xDrive system, with torque apportioned automatically from north and south and from wheel to wheel.

Power comes from the latest versions of the 3.0-litre petrol and diesel sixes, and two new turbo petrols: the 306bhp 3.0 and 400bhp-plus 4.4. A 280bhp 3.5-litre diesel also appears.

  • Look Restrained by BMW’s current standards, with sober sheet metal and not many eye-catching graphics

  • Engines Six- and eight- cylinder petrol and diesel engines, ranging from 231bhp diesel to 400bhp, plus turbo V8 petrol

    Chassis Components shared with 5-series, drive sent to all four wheels via the latest xDrive system

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