X5 – Stance

To date, everything I’ve written about the X5 has been about fixing things that aren’t right with it. There’s a lot more to come. I mean, let’s be honest – an E53 X5 4.8is is going to give me a never ending stream of issues!

Yet this post is about something more fun – the way it looks. X5s are supposed to be quite high vehicles. The 4.8is is supposed to be more sporty, and therefore not as high, but it still towers over my estate cars. Ever since I discovered the fashion of lowering SUVs a few years ago, I knew I’d always want any SUV I owned to be less tall and wobbly. The 4.8is was therefore a great starting point.

Pretty much every photo I’ve posted of the X5 so far has been in “Access Mode”. That’s where it sits around an inch lower than its usual driving height, apparently to make it easier for people to get in and out. I’m not sure how much difference that makes in reality, but it sure as hell makes the car look better when parked.

Below, here’s a standard X5 4.8is, in access mode.

It is often difficult to deduce ride height in photos as the black of the tyre wall blends into the darkness of the wheel well recess. Here’s another couple of access mode shots.

Also here, note that the wheels are recessed within the arches. Here’s a useful angle to emphasise this.

I should admit here that I took inspiration from Ste Nelson on this topic. He has a photo of his X5 next to a standard model which emphatically shows how lowering and widening the car’s stance can completely change its attitude.

Both the lowering and widening changes are easy, relatively cheap, and still use all the car’s standard suspension and wheels. Total cost is under £300.

The wheels are pushed out using H&R Trak wheel spacers. These are made in Germany and TUV approved, which was crucial for me to permit them to interface between my car and its wheels.

They bolt onto the car’s hubs, and the wheels bolt onto them. 30mm at the rear, 25mm at the front.

Yeah, I know the car’s brakes and hubs are crusty. All on the to-do list!

Here’s how the rear changed. Before:


That left the car looking like this at standard access height:

It looked pretty hilarious at “off road” height!

So then it was time to sort out the car’s altitude. Ste pointed me at a firm called Air Ride Lowering Links run by a really helpful guy called Mick. He sells variable length links to slot between the car’s suspension sensors and the lower wishbones.

These now look like this:

Under that black heat shrink is an adjustable thread, effectively changing the car’s idea of how high it is. That makes it easy to change the car’s Access, Standard and Off Road driving heights.

My car isn’t as low as Ste’s but it does now enjoy a subtle drop making it look much smarter in my opinion. It’s also great that the height can still be easily adjusted by the controls on the dashboard, so the car can still have a decent amount of clearance when necessary.

Off Road:



The combination of being that little bit lower and wider really smartens the car up for me.