2004 BMW X5 4.8iS

The E53 BMW may not go down as the prettiest in the company’s history, but it was responsible in part for the company’s genesis into the modern market. Launched in 1999, the X5 was the company’s first ‘truck’, though it was dubbed by the company a Sport Activity Vehicle and based heavily on the E39 chassis. That wasn’t a bad thing, as the chassis dynamics of the E39 are universally lauded. It also meant that you could get some pretty slick motors in the X5, and that was certainly true towards the end of the run. The 4.6iS was launched in 2001, and had beefy wheels, a body kit, and 342 horsepower from the M62 under the hood. Not done, the N62 version replaced it in 2004, and saw the first generation X5 out in the 4.8iS guise we see here with 355 horsepower on tap. They’re fairly hard to miss in terms of sheer presence, and I have to confess – I really have a soft spot for these. Let’s take a look at this Imola Red example:

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2007 BMW 750Li

The BMW E65, and its long-wheelbase sibling the E66, were a radical departure from the beloved E38 I just looked at. But the fourth generation 7 was necessary to move the car forward in the leaps and bounds necessary to keep pace in the large executive market. Was it all bad? No, the post Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) cars starting in 2008 offered updated iDrive computer systems, styling, and engines. Here, this E66 has the N62 V8 cranking out 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. And it’s got some pretty cool options. And it’s a neat color combo! And, it’s cheap!

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2006 BMW 550i

While there wasn’t much of a contest between the E28 M5 and E34 535i, by the end of the E34 run the 540i M Sport was – for all intents and purposes – a M5 without the S38. BMW upped the ante to 400 horsepower in the new E39 M5, once again widening the gap to the 540i model. But the successor E60 545i offered 330 horsepower with matching torque in 2003 alongside the outgoing E39 and once again the gap in performance became much smaller. That gap was made almost impercievable in 2005, when BMW revised the E60 with the increased displacement in the N62 motor. Now sporting 4.8 liters from the N62B48, the new “550i” now had 360 horsepower and 361 lb.ft of torque – a much better match for the S62. What was perhaps more amazing was that the new N62 also nearly matched the torque of the new E60 M5’s S85 V10. But while that screaming V10 produced far more horsepower, the peak torque was reached only at 6,100 revolutions – hardly practical in your daily commute. In comparison, peak twist on the N62 came at a much more realistic 3,400 r.p.m.s, and on the fly these 550is were – and still are – seriously quick sedans. They also introduced the next generation of design language and computer technology into the 5-series. Some love the look while others lambaste the design. While it’s certainly not my favorite 5, at least it’s distinctive and different in a world full of cookie-cutter designs and dare I say I think it may look better today than it did new – perhaps a testament to its avant garde lines. While the lust-worthy V10 captures the imagination of enthusiasts, day to day the 550i is likely as fast 95% of the time and much cheaper to get into and run. The thing is, is this the one to get?

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