As some of you may know I bought a Diesel in June. I was originally interested in the Mercedes ML BlueTEC and even made a deal on one. By chance while my 535 was in for service I test drove the X5 Diesel. It was a standard non sport version. I really liked the X5 on the test drive compared to the ML. It seemed much more responsive, much more sporty, much more fitting with my taste and style. I even thought it sounded cool. I couldn't live with the ML after that. So I ordered a 35D with SA, 20" wheels, nicely loaded to the tune of $65.5K
I lived with the car for two months, then took it in for service. Minor adjustment of the seat air bladder position and replacement of a defective rubber wind deflector under the front bumper.
During the two months I had the car, I realized the car fatigued me, even short drives. The diesel sound and vibration goes from cool to annoying really quick, on the highway as well as stop and go city traffic. The Sport Activity Package comes with Sport suspension delete. I thought it would be a nice tradeoff considering the 20" wheels. I was wrong! The ride is very busy, even on seemingly flat pavement. Minor undulations are really unsettling for this suspension. Becoming major and prolonged pitch changes in the suspension geometry. Bigger pavement irregularities seem to send the suspension into Parkinson's like syndrome. Combined with the very firm sport seats and it becomes very fatiguing.
The 6 speed tranny is tuned for economy and really does not want to downshift. At WOT it downshifts to a gear, one gear too high in most circumstances. Sometimes it bangs out the right gear and really takes off, but the rush is short lived, it just doesn't want to play at higher revs. The up-shifts are really muddled. Slow and lacking crispness. For some strange reason, anytime it rained the car felt quicker and more responsive. Atmospheric pressure? Humidity?
The dealer set me up with a loaner while at service. I asked for an X5 and they did me a favor and set me up with one. It was a 13 35i premium. The minute I got on the interstate I was literally blown away by the difference. I drove gas X5s before, 535GT with the N55 as well as 5.0. This particular car seemed to be a factory ringer. It was an absolutely superb setup. Incredibly responsive, lighting quick gear changes. In manual mode, the up shifts are so quick and crisp it almost feels Dual Clutch, along with the little flare ups between shifts. On the highway, putting your foot down to the floor but not passed the "button" rewards with brisk gear change and acceleration. It seems to be in the right gear. But wait, there is more! Click the button under the gas pedal, and there is one more, lower. Spectacular! It just wants to breathe at higher revs. And there is always one more to be had. The exhaust sound in the 13 35i is phenomenal, especially in manual mode.
The Premium has 19 wheels. The ride is not as busy as in the SA D with 20's but still a little choppy. The car does seem lighter on its feet than the diesel. Possibly the weight. I haven't verified if the springs and dampers are the same/different part numbers.
Spoiled by this, almost week long relationship. I began considering my options. I was no longer enjoying the D. Yes, the 35i is nice, but if I'm going to get out of the D, I better get my rear end planted in a 5.0 seat. Suspension was my biggest dislike in the diesel. Reading all the positive responses here about Adaptive Drive and the comfort and sportiness it provides, I was almost certain there would be a check mark on that option box. Just to be sure I get the most isolation from NYC catacombs, I thought I should go with the 19's instead of 20's. AD with 19's, that's should be perfect for me, right? I was so close to ordering it but not wanting to make another mistake, I set out to find one with at least AD. It proved to be almost impossible. Yet, I managed to find two different AD equipped cars at different dealer's used lots and one 13 5.0 with AD, M-sport, M-performance, and 19s. My car!
Over two days I drove a total of five X5s, three being with Adaptive Drive.
2011 5.0 M-Sport with AD and 20s seemed nice. Not enough rough pavement on the test drive but on one bigger pavement transition it seemed to crash over it.
2009 3.0 M-Sport AD with staggered 19s felt like a floating boat. Nauseating body motions, poor steering response and unsettling harshness over somewhat concaved man hole covers. Couldn't wait to get out of this car.
2013 M-Sport 35i M-Sport with 20s no AD over the same road as the 09, felt much more composed. Firm but not too harsh. It controlled body motion briskly and felt much sharper.
2013 5.0 standard car no AD, 19s. This car seemed similar to my diesel.
Finally a 2013 5.0 AD M-Sport with M-Performance 19's. This was supposed to be my options. Well, I got a similar floaty feeling I got with the 09 that had the same wheels/tires. To a much lesser extent but the unpleasant front to back sway was there. Additionally, it also seemed to deal with the bigger road irregularities and indentations surprisingly poor. The Sport mode helped somewhat.
Unwilling to spend any more time test driving cars, I decided to take a calculated risk and Ordered a 5.0 with M-Sport/Performance with 20" wheels. There really was no other option. I knew I wanted the V8 after driving the Performance Pak 5.0. I knew I didn't want Adaptive Drive and I knew I didn't want 19's after putting my Diesel with 20's next to an M-Sport with 19's. I ordered the one combo I didn't drive, The M-Sport with 20s and Self Leveling Air Suspension.
I made a terrific deal with a local dealer and ordered it. The car went from 112 to production overnight and was at the dealer a little over a week later. I am absolutely Blown away by the level and quality of service I got from my SA. He made the deal happen for me, delivered on everything he promised in record time. Spent an incredible amount of his time fussing over every detail until it was polished. Finally when the car arrived, pulled it aside at the dealership so it sat separate from the crowds and even people smoking outside. On the delivery day, positioned it right next to his desk, locked, watching eagle over it. Put wheel locks on it free of charge and even adjusted the tire pressure himself. Wait, that's not all! He knew I transferred my lease on the diesel. On his own initiative, he asked if I could have the new owner call him so that he could update BMW Assist for him. I bought many brand new cars before, different marques, this is my fourth Bimmer. This has to be by far the best car buying experience I ever had. I usually go way out of my area to get a good deal and better service from sales. What can I say, It's not easy to leave me pleased. Sales Advisors like that make the dealership.
Finally about my car. The Self Leveling Air suspension in the 5.0 M-Sport is very well sorted. It remedies every issue I had with the diesel and the test drive vehicles. I'm convinced this is the option to have in the current X5 platform. The car feels very light on its feet. Very composed. The potholes and road bumps that became known to me are controlled quickly and effectively. There is no extra rear end sway, no float. The ride is as close to perfect as I can imagine for a high ground clearance vehicle. The handling is much improved over the diesel, especially transition response as well as steering feel and effort. The engine note is intoxicating. I don't want to push it too much during break-in but it is next to impossible.
Here are some pics from the test drives and finally my beautiful Space Gray M-Sport.