15 Years of BMW X Model

It all started with an X. This letter was first used as a model designation for a BMW automobile as early as in the mid-1980s to indicate that it featured four-wheel drive technology. The car’s dual symmetry was the ideal allegory for the transmission of drive torque to all four wheels. 15 years ago, the letter X became the symbol of an entirely new vehicle category and, at the same time, of a very special form of driving pleasure. The BMW X5 made its debut as the world’s first Sports Activity Vehicle, soon going on to conquer not only the road but also off-road terrain, whilst attracting additional target groups to the BMW brand. Once again the German premium automobile manufacturer had demonstrated its extraordinary sense for innovative and future-oriented vehicle concepts. The introduction of the BMW X5 in 1999 laid the foundation stone for the unique success story of BMW X models on automotive markets all over the world.

15 years further on, a complete BMW X family has developed from the pioneer of a new vehicle category. The brand’s range now comprises five BMW X models. These are complemented by the two four-wheel drive high-performance sports cars of the BMW M GmbH, the BMW X5 M and the BMW X6 M. The BMW X5 is already the third generation of its kind to continue the story of success. The second generation of the Sports Activity Coupe BMW X6 and the BMW X3 are now being produced. The BMW X1 offers a guarantee of multi-faceted driving pleasure in the compact segment. And the BMW X4, a Sports Activity Coupe, now also combines superior dynamism with sporting elegance in the mid-range segment. Each of these models was the first premium vehicle of its kind within its competitive environment. And the range will continue to expand also in the years ahead. The BMW X7, an exceptionally large and luxurious model, is under development. The popularity of BMW X models, which contributed decisively towards BMW becoming one of the world’s most successful producer of premium four-wheel drive automobiles, continues to increase consistently. To this day, more than 3.3 million BMW X models have been sold worldwide. Almost every third newly registered vehicle of the brand is now a BMW X model.

Uncompromising driving pleasure – also in four-wheel drive models.
The BMW X5 made an impressive start with a driving experience that was unique to models of the brand. It was characterised above all by the high seating position and excellent handling both on the road and on off-road terrain. This was supplemented by the exceptionally spacious, variably utilisable and luxuriously equipped interior. From the very start, the unique position of the BMW X5 within the competitive environment of off-road vehicles was a result of its unparalleled driving dynamics. As opposed to conventional off-roaders, the BMW X5 featured a self-supporting safety body shell and independent suspension. The four-wheel drive system distributed drive torque to the front and rear wheels at a ratio of 38 : 62 percent. Thanks to the standard vehicle stability control feature DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), ADB-X (Automatic Differential Brake) and downhill control HDC (Hill Descent Control), the BMW X5 was equipped not only for sporty motoring, but also for the challenges of driving on off-road terrain. 

From the beginning, power transmission to all four wheels was deployed by BMW not merely to optimise traction on unpaved roads and in adverse weather conditions, but also to enhance driving dynamics when taking bends. Therefore, in the case of the current models equipped with the intelligent four-wheel drive feature xDrive, and in contrast to other manufacturers who use four-wheel drive predominantly to compensate for traction losses experienced on front-wheel drive vehicles, BMW consistently adheres to the typical characteristics of the rear-wheel drive concept. In this way, even in normal driving situations most of the torque is transferred to where it is optimally transformed into vehicle dynamics – the rear wheels. As a result, the steering precision that is characteristic of a BMW also remains virtually free from drivetrain influences on four-wheel drive models. Moreover, when cornering at higher speeds, steering response is optimised through a targeted increase in torque delivered to the rear wheels.

The innovative combination of traction, dynamics and comfort that characterised the first-generation BMW X5 was in overwhelming demand above all in the USA, but also in Europe and other markets. By the middle of 2005, the 500,000th BMW X5 had rolled off the assembly line, with a total of almost 620,000 units of the first Sports Activity Vehicle being built at the BMW Spartanburg plant. Today, the production location in the US Federal State of South Carolina is the competence centre for BMW X models. The current model generations of the BMW X5, the BMW X6 and the BMW X3 as well as the BMW X4 are produced there. Also, the BMW X5 M and the BMW X6 M are “born in the USA”.