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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Matchbox BMW X5 and X5 Police

When the X5 was announced by BMW in 1998, many pursuits of BMW cringed at the idea of a heavy SUV in their beloved lineup.  Instead the X5 got positive reviews and sales rose to the point that BMW now offered X6, a sports-coupe SUV based on the X5, The similar X4 sports SUV based on the X3, and the X3.  All are built in Greer, South Carolina.  Recently Matchbox revived the BMW X5 casting, first introduced in 2002, but this time as a permanent Police vehicle thanks to roof lights now integrated with the interior windows and, strangely, the lack of headlight washer nozzles.

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X5: The Sports Activity Vehicle

Yes, it's not an SUV and that makes sense:  even with some hardware borrowed from the Range Rover that BMW owned for a brief while, the X5 SAV is not as rugged off-road as the Range Rover, more of a tall all-wheel drive wagon.  The X5 still has some BMW touches like the quad round lights behind cover with the twin kidney grille, the hood vents and outlines, to the dogleg taillights shared with a split tailgate that is cool at first, but I guess got annoying as the gate was changed to a full-opening one in the second generation.  Oh, and check out those cool quad exhaust tips below the rear bumper.  The interior is similar to, and it's hard to believe this was the last BMW introduced before the X-Drive central screen and know took over the majority of future BMW dashboards.  The tiny navigation screen in the center, closest to the driver, is a joke compared to the larger screens in the newer BMW's.  Still the dashboard is similar to other BMW passenger cars, including the speedo and tach gauges, the steering wheel, seats, and door panels.  The rear seats are roomy and easy to get into, while the cargo area is small but can be made bigger by folding the rear seats.

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The engine is the 4.4L DOHC V8 producing 315 hp. through a 5-speed automatic and through the x-drive AWD system that senses wheel slip and applies traction to the wheels in need, essentially giving this SUV the Sports Activity Vehicle designation.  The second generation moved the X5 inline with the rest of the BMW lineup with X-drive and offering a diesel I-6, or a twin-turbo V8 in the first X5 M version.  The third generation continues the same way.

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Fantastic casting in a not-so-great time

The X5 by Matchbox was one of those rare gems in the time of Hero City, which was consisted of poorly-done generic castings designed more for kids and alienating most collectors.  The X5, first introduced in blue with silver Matchbox logo on the left rear fender and, on some models, 50th anniversary logo on the roof, was the cleanest model you can get in this line in 2002.  While it may not have front and rear lighting detailing, it doesn't need it: just look and the depth and details of the body!!!  The only complaint about this casting that I have is the ground clearance, which sits too low compared to the actual vehicle, and the wheels don't look correct either.  Check out the base with all the drivetrain component details in depth again!  Inside the interior properly-done except for a small steering wheel.

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Since then the clean look has been flawless aside from a few graphics that make their way throughout the several variations until 2005 when Mattel lost the BMW license.  In 2011 when the license returned, the X5 returned in police form, and with a metal base, in the Lesney Edition line.  Just like the prior X5 police in the Best of Germany line, it uses a separate light bar on the roof.  For 2014 that changes with integrated roof lights with the interior window.  The best part is the 5-spoke wheels (finally) that look good blacked-out in silver trim with red logos representing the police departments in Germany (or Britian?).  Still with all of these changes it still looks just as good as the very first release in 2002, and it still looks good today!

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