BMW enthusiasts often have a love/hate relationship with the E53 X5. The first-gen BMW X5 is revered for being a great looking SUV with surprisingly good driving dynamics, and a lovely interior. It’s also a car that put BMW in the financial position to make and sell many other brilliant cars, due to its immense success. However, it was also a reliability nightmare for many owners. So we mostly love it but only at a distance. However, would it actually be worth owning one if it had a manual transmission?

That’s right, the E53 BMW X5 was available with a manual transmission. It’s odd to think of modern day SUVs with manual transmissions but it was actually sort of common back in the original X5’s day. It wasn’t even the only SUV of the time to offer a manual; the BMW X3 and Porsche Cayenne had manuals, too. However, the X5 wasn’t solely a sporty SUV, as it was also a luxury SUV.

In this piece from Car Throttle, enthusiast Will Beaumont learned of the manual E53 X5 and decided he had to have one. So he ended up buying one; a BMW X5 3.0d with a five-speed manual transmission. What surprised him even more than its existence was the fact that the original X5 is actually great to drive. It’s feels far more like a sporty sedan than it does an SUV, which is made even better by its manual transmission. Even today, the E53 X5 is surprisingly good fun to drive.

There’s no question, there’s a big risk in buying an E53 BMW X5. Their need for meticulous, often expensive, maintenance means many X5s were neglected and abused and now require expensive repairs. Beaumont’s seems to be in very good condition, with few, if any, problems. If you can find a nice one, is the E53 BMW X5 with a manual worth taking the risk on? It seems like it might be.

[Source: Car Throttle]