Sun, 25 Nov 2001

Off-road driving in comfort of a sedan

Hera Diani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Up on the hill in Sentul, near Bogor in West Java, on land where a housing complex is planned to be built, driving instructor Fritz Lanio from Germany sat comfortably behind the steering wheel.

"Ready?" he asked. Then he planted his foot on the gas and drove us down the hill. He then took us along the twisting, curving and bumpy road around the hill before climbing up again.

This was part of the recent adventurous driving program conducted by PT BMW Indonesia to test the BMW X5 series.

And if it wasn't for the car, we would still be lying on a bed waiting to have our bodies massaged after being tossed around on the rugged journey.

BMW is known for its sedans but has now also launched a new series for on and off-road driving.

The company claims that the BMW X5 is the first SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) series in the world. Basically, it means a vehicle with the based on a sedan and featuring sedan comfort, while bearing the versatility for off-road adventure.

It is the opposite of the existing SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle), which is based on an off-road vehicle that adopts the features of a sedan.

The BMW X5 has balanced weight distribution, which is important for both environments. This series has three models: BMW X5 4.4i, 3.0i and 3.0d.

We experienced the first type, which is claimed to possess the most powerful high-performance engine. With an eight cylinder 4,398 cc engine and Variable Camshaft Control (VANOS), the BMW X5 4.4i can power to 210 kW at 5,400 rpm, with a torque of 440 Nm at 3,600 rpm.

The vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 100 km per hour in a mere 7.5 seconds and the electronically controlled top speed is 206 km/h.

The 3.0i is similar to the first type, only with a less powerful engine.

The 3.0d series is the straight six cylinder diesel complete with common rail fuel injection. It accelerates in particular style from low engine speeds, benefiting from an enormous 410 Nm of maximum torque as of 2,000-3,000 rpm. Another big advantage is the fuel consumption of just 9.7 liters/100 km with automatic transmission.

All models are equipped with four major systems: Automatic Stability Control (ASC-X), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Automatic Differential Brakes (ADB-X) and Hill Descent Control (HDC).

The first system counteracts drive slip when setting off and accelerating out of a bend, engine torque being reduced in order to provide better traction. It means that you can set off and accelerate more quickly, even on slippery surfaces.

DSC is a suspension control system which is able to detect the risk of swerving and stabilizes the car within fractions of a second, providing extra driving stability, especially in turns.

With ADB-X (X refers to four wheel drive), as soon as a wheel starts to spin, it is slowed down electronically by the brake system until the wheel regains traction on the road surface. During this process, drive forces are spread across the wheels which still have sufficient grip.

The last function, HDC, enables the car to take even the steepest downhill gradients safely and reliably, automatically reducing the speed of the car to approximately 8 km/h without the driver having to intervene.

As mentioned earlier, this series has the comfort of a sedan, so the interior is just as comfortable as any other BMW.

The instrument panel can split up into various control zones, helping the well-designed cockpit ensure supreme ergonomic benefit and practicality.

The rear seat bench is split asymmetrically and may be folded down according to specific requirements, providing ample space whenever you have to transport bulky equipment or luggage.

The BMW X5 is also equipped with the inflatable tubular structure (ITS) head airbag, a tube-like airbag which prevents your head from jerking sideways in a dangerous motion, possibly hitting the window.

Other features include the navigation system with a 16:9 on- board monitor and television; park distance control; car/key memory; alarm system with remote control and automatic air conditioning.

Interested in making a purchase? With around Rp 1.4 billion you could have a 4.4i model parked in your garage.