BMW is a company devoted to continually refining and improving their products. Take the popular X5 sports-activity-vehicle, for instance. Although on the market for just a little over two years, its engine lineup has already expanded, a manual gearbox has been added, and there is even a sport suspension package. But for 2002, it adds our favorite upgrade, more power.
And you know us , anything with more power usually receives two enthusiastic thumbs up. And the 2002 BMW X5 4.6is is no exception.
The extra boost of adrenalin comes from boring and stroking the X5’s stock 4.4 liter V8 a mite to 4.6 liters. Compression is also up slightly, hotter valve timing and more aggressive mapping of the engine’s electronic control system is utilized, and a modified exhaust system is hung underneath.
The results are 340 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, which at the track translated into a neck-snapping 0 to 60 run of 6.1 seconds. That’s a half second faster than the 4.4i. Likewise the quarter mile run of 14.7 seconds at 95 MPH. That’s serious off-line punch! But the sport-tuned 5-speed Steptronic trans, which uses a higher stall-speed torque converter and more aggressive programming, handles the brute force smoothly.
Wisely, this more power mentality is accompanied by more brakes. The 4-wheel discs, with meaty vented 14-inch rotors in front, created some serious g-forces of their own by pulling us in from 60 in just 117 feet. Very capable and stable are the key words here.
Two words that also describe the X5’s standard sport suspension and handling characteristics in our low speed slalom. When BMW first introduced the X5, it delivered an SUV that handled like a sport wagon, and that’s a promise the 4.6 builds upon. The 4.6is uses vehicle-speed sensing rack-and-pinion steering as opposed to the engine- speed sensing units found on the other X5s. Steering feel is very light, but turn ins are spot on. The 4.6is also rides on huge 20 x 9.5 inch rims with 275/40R tires in front, 20 x 10.5 inch wheels mounted with 315/35R tires in the rear.
This ‘‘more’’ theme is also carried over into the 4.6is’s interior. Where, in addition to special trim, just about every option available on the 3.0i and the 4.4i models is standard fare. Only the Navigation system, retractable rear load floor, and rear airbag/head protection system are 4.6is options.
And as you might expect, the ‘‘more’’ mantra also encompasses the 4.6is’s pricing. Base sticker on the 2002 X5 4.6is is $67,490. That’s almost identical to the pricing on Mercedes’ hot rod sport ute, the ML55.
So for those that simply must have the speediest BMW on the block, but can’t shake the SUV habit, the 2002 BMW 4.6is is the ticket to ride. And it’s also comforting to know, in this age of hype and over-inflated expectations, when someone like BMW says more, they really mean more!
Engine: 4.6 Liter V8
Torque: 350 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 6.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.7 Seconds @ 95 MPH
60-0 MPH: 117 Feet
EPA Mileage: 12 MPG City 17 MPG Highway