BMW hasn’t entered the lucrative off-road segment, deciding instead to sit on the sidelines and envy Mercedes for its highly profitable G-Class. Some people have decided to take matters into their own hands and build a go-anywhere SUV of Bavarian origins. That’s despite the fact all of the company’s luxury SUVs have a unibody construction while the iconic G has had a body-on-frame platform since day one.
ECS Tuning worked on a first-generation X5 and gave it a complete makeover for this year’s SEMA. It’s called the ULTRA X5 and there’s frankly not much BMW left in it. Yes, the body is still an E53 but just about everything else has been changed. It has received solid axles and meaty 40-inch tires, not to mention an LS engine swap hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission from General Motors.
Featuring more suspension travel than we’ve ever seen on an X5, the wild build has Bilstein shocks, off-road lights, and a platform roof rack. Although BMW never intended for its first-ever SUV to go off the beaten path, this E53 can effortlessly tackle the Moab. It’s mostly thanks to the jacked-up ride and those robust solid axles enabling greater traction and articulation compared to an independent suspension.
With so many off-the-shelf components available to purchase, even a premium road-oriented SUV such as the X5 can become an all-terrain machine if you let your imagination run wild. You’d be better off buying a true off-roader such as a Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, or Toyota Land Cruiser but ECS Tuning wanted to spice things up with a unibody SUV from a luxury brand.
This heavily modified E53 performed admirably on the challenging Moab backcountry trails, although we’re sure some BMW fans find the custom build to be sacrilegious. It’s certainly not the first nor the last overlanding vehicle with the famous roundel but it’s among the most controversial given the extent of the hardware changes.
Source: ECS Tuning / YouTube