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BMW X5 M Gives Drivers the Best of Both Worlds

BMW X5 M:
Engine: 4.4 liter, V-8, twin turbocharged, 555 horsepower, 500 pounds of torque
Acceleration: 0-60: 4.5 seconds, top speed 155 mph
Brakes: 15.6 inch front/15.2 inch rear wheel disc brakes
Sound system: high fidelity 16 speakers with two subwoofers, 600 watts of power
Price: base $87,700 and up to $101,675 fully equipped with all options

“M” IN AUTOMOTIVE CIRCLES STANDS not for the head of the British secret service (as James Bond might have you believe), but rather as a marker for high performance BMWs. For many years, it was only the coupes that received this handling and speed performance upgrade.

But here in America (read: the land of SUVs), the M has found its way to append the X5, the European automaker’s medium-sized SUV. Now the X5 has about every engine combo one could want-from a straight six, a V-8, a diesel V-8-and now the M twin turbo V-8. With this addition, horsepower is certainly not lacking. To be exact, 555 horses tied to a 6-speed automatic motivates this M formula. With torque sufficient enough to pull a tractor-trailer (500 pounds starting at 1,500 rpm, if the scenario happens to arise), what does this mean to the everyday driver? Instant and overwhelming throw-you-in-the-back-of-seat thrust at even the lowest speeds, and a zero to 60 time of 4.5 seconds. Did we mention a top speed of155 mph?

Although these statistics may take a moment to sink in, let’s not forget the rest of the M performance attributes. All the X5 Ms come with all-wheel drive. But it is not simply running the power to the four wheels at the same level at all times. For must-go applications, most of the power is sent to the rear wheels (ensuring better handling). When the going gets rough, or off-road, the power will be transmitted to the wheel that needs it the most. With other controls in the cockpit, the suspension, dampening, steering input and throttle response can be set to the driver’s liking. Paddles behind the steering wheel make for quick and decisive transmission settings.

Some exterior changes separate the M from the lesser progeny. Twenty-inch wheels, three larger air intakes in the front, four very large exhaust pipes in the rear, and a generally lower stance are the external highlights.

Interior upgrades include double-stitched carbon leather upholstery. Other X5 luxury features and utility aspects have not been forgotten. A large screen in the center of the dash is the center point for the controls for navigation, telephone, stereo, vehicle information and the rear video camera. Fortunately, BMW has made the iDrive control of these activities less “geek” oriented and more everyday user friendly. Further, on the dash and steering wheel there are redundant dials and buttons for the computer leery.

The driver and all passengers will find comfortable leather-lined seats with plenty of maneuvering room. With four air vents in the rear and temperature controls in the back of the center console, the three rear passengers can control their comfort level. And sunshine can be let in for all with the double-sized sunroof.

The rear cargo compartment is beautifully lined with moveable tie-down rings, extra hidden storage in the carpeted floor, and a cover to hide it all. Unlike many SUVs, the rear door is split. With a push of a button, the top of the liftgate goes up or down and a small tailgate can be manually dropped.

Now that the M magic wand has passed over one of BMW’s favorite SUVs, the height and utility of the X5 remain but with take-no-prisoners hyper-performance and first rate handling. For those who want usefulness and plenty of performance, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Luxury Asides

NOSTALGIC POWER

One of the most famous of the Trans-Am racecars of the 1970s was the 302 Boss Mustang driven by the famous Indy winning driver, Parnelli Jones. Ford, never one to pass up an opportunity to spin off another version of the Mustang, has brought back the Boss 302 for 2012, but in two different renditions.

In the more street-able version, the V-8 horsepower GT model goes from a stout 412 horsepower to 440 with the ability to spin up to 7,500 rpm. A special exhaust system adds to the thrust as well as sound effects.

Other additions include the classic side stripes with “302 Boss” emblazoned at the front. Fully adjustable front and rear shocks can be changed for full performance or sedate cruising, and famous Brembo brakes are also part of the deal. Prices start at $41,000.

For a mere $7,000 boost, the Leguna Seca package will make the Boss ready to lead laps at your local racetrack. Besides special color schemes, this option adds a spoiler straight from NASCAR, race compound tires, special gauges, a locking rear axle, a removed rear seat and reinforcing bars across the back suspension. Drivers, start your engines.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Chevy recently reintroduced the Camaro coupe with styling that harks back to the 1960s. To say the least, the coupe’s sales effort has been a success. For this year, the even better looking convertible version is available-and it is a style- savvy knockout.

On the power front, the 2012 model year will bring back the ZL1 with a supercharged V-8 pumping out about 550 horsepower with an expected 0-60 time of under 4 seconds. Special brakes, suspension upgrades and high-performance tires will keep this low-slung coupe grounded. A big and bulging hood will cover the engine compartment and special front. Rear spoilers will keep the car grounded. Sales start in February of 2012 at a price yet to be announced; shortly after which a track pack will be added to further enhance handling on your friendly race course.

SIZE DOES MATTER

When Ford brought the SVT Raptor truck in 2010, it was tall, big and designed as an off-road warrior. Besides all of the off-road super suspen- sion retooling, this truck had huge wheels and tires with a raised suspension built for leaping over creeks, boulders and whatever else may be so unfortunate to find itself in your path.

On the street, it presented an imposing figure. It simply was not a standard Ford F-150 exterior. Instead, it had a special grill and other clear design differences.

This model year, an even larger Super Crew version to carry three more passengers has been added resulting in a wheelbase of 145 inches. Engine choices include a 5.5-liter V-8 or the even bigger 6.2-liter engine tied to a 6-speed automatic. Towing capacity is a very stout 8,000 pounds. So, if you want to leap tall buildings in a single bound, this is the truck for you.