2011 BMW X5 xDrive35i First Drive
And despite the eight cogs, this gear box doesn't feel like a CVT nor does it insist on constantly rowing up and down the range. Rather, it utilizes the high low-end torque that's now available across the range to remain in gear for your average rolling acceleration requests. It will kick down quickly if you give it some serious boot--it can jump three of four gears at once, according to BMW's Norbert Klauer--and upshifts feel near-seamless, even under full power. All of this in the same size and weight of the previous unit.
Despite the inspiring architecture and picturesque views, Miami doesn't offer much in the way of driver's roads. That said, we had a few freeway on-ramps and (very) mild off-road excursions to put the new X5 to the test, and having recently spent a week with the 2010 xDrive48i, we can say the new 35i is definitely its equal, and a little more polished in smoothness and shift quality.
The xDrive35i's Single-Turbo Engine
Replacing the xDrive30i for the U.S. market, the xDrive35i gets the now-familiar N55 twin-scroll single-turbo engine that's also in the new 1-, 3- and 5-Series cars. The twin-scroll design of the turbo added to fully variable valve control makes for the same peak figures as the previous twin-turbo N54 engine, but it does it at lower rpms, meaning it feels even gruntier from the first press of the gas. It also has less lag between throttle application and engine response, as the new engine's electronics allow the throttle valve to be fully open, pre-charging in the air supply to the engine, according to Klauer.
That means that both from a standstill and when accelerating in-gear, the new engine should feel more lively than its predecessor. We didn't notice a tremendous difference, but perhaps that's endorsement enough: the single-turbo feels about the same as the twin, and it does it with about a 10 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. It'll get to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds as well, about as fast as the previous xDrive48i V-8 model.