BMW 5-Series

I should probably start with this disclaimer, I currently drive a 2004 BMW 530i. This was the first year of the new design. It also was my first BMW. I bought it because of how it looks, but quickly discovered I like it best for how it drives. There is some truth to BMW’s slogan, “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” If you have never driven a BMW, you should at least give it a try. You never know, it may become your favorite car, just as it is mine. Given this introduction, you are probably thinking “how can this guy give an unbiased review of the BMW 5-Series?” Maybe I can’t, but I’ll try.

BMW 5-Series Highlights

BMW positions the 5-series as an executive sports cars. I take this to mean the 5-Series is for drivers wanting a mid-size sports car, but needing enough room to put family, customers or clients in the back seat. This was my criteria when I bought the BMW 530i.

The 5-Series has two body styles: the Sedan, and the Gran Turismos. The Sedan exterior design is intended to complement and emphasize the dynamic nature of the car’s performance. It is sleek looking, with a coupe-like flowing roof line. The best description of how it looks is probably how others see it. It is the only car I’ve ever driven where a beautiful girl on the sidewalk said to me “what a pretty car!” Almost as flattering as if she had complemented me personally. The Sedan comes in three models: the 528i, 535i and 550i. The 528i has a 3.0 liter, 6-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower. The 535i has a 3.0 liter, 6-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo technology 300 hp. The 550i has a 4.4 liter, V8 with TwinPower Turbo technology 400 hp.

Compared to the Sedan, the Gran Turismos provides additional passenger space, and a dual-access trunk or tailgate for increased storage and access. This is accomplished by giving the Gran Turismos a longer wheel base than the standard Sedan. This gives the Gran Turismos interior back seat room comparable to the BMW Series-7 car. The dual-access trunk or tailgate is somewhat SUV-like. It will open as a normal trunk space for lesser storage needs. If more space is needed, you can open the tailgate and fold down the rear seats. This allows you to carry oversized items such as golf bags, baby carriages, or ski and snowboard equipment. The Gran Turismos also comes in three models: the 535i, 550i and 550i xDrive. The 535i Gran Turismos comes with 3.0-liter, inline 6-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo Technology and 300 hp. The 550i has a 4.4 liter, V8 with TwinPower Turbo Technology and 400 hp. The 550i xDrive is an All-Wheel Drive version of the 550i.

5-Series Features

The 5-Series has a nice blend of performance and luxury features. Your model choice may be largely driven by your need for speed, since engine size is the primary difference between each model. However, don’t think you need to go big for power. Even the 3.0 liter, 6-cylinder engine puts out 240 horsepower. The other two engine options are the 3.0 liter, 6-cylinder with TwinPower Turbo technology putting out 300 hp. If that isn’t enough, you have the 4.4 liter, V8 with TwinPower Turbo technology putting out 400 hp.

Getting the power to the road is an 8-speed Sport Automatic Transmission with Paddle Shifters. Close spacing of the eight gears provides smooth acceleration, improved efficiency and shift comfort. Integral Active Steering adapts the steering to the car speed to provide better steering response. It also steers the rear wheels up 2.5 degrees in the opposite direction for enhanced maneuverability. When changing lanes at highway speeds, both front and rear wheels turn in the same direction to provide greater responsiveness and directional stability, while reducing body roll. Speaking of body roll, Active Roll Stabilization (ARS) and Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) help minimize body roll in cornering. Corner handling feels like the front-end dives in the direction of the turn, rather than the car leaning in the opposite direction. This provides a very secure feel in corners. Other performance features include Brake Energy Regeneration to charge the battery rather than totally relying on the alternator that is engine driven and therefore requires fuel.

There are also many safety enhancements such as Active Cruise Control that uses radar measurements to maintain a pre-set speed and distance between you and the car ahead. Active Blind Spot Detection uses radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle to monitor the traffic behind it and alert you if there is a vehicle in your blind spot by displaying a light on side-view mirror. If you don’t notice the warning, and signal to change lanes, the light on the mirror flashes and the steering wheel vibrates.

A Heads-Up Display reflects information such as speed and navigation directions onto the front windshield so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road. Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection uses infrared technology and front camera to detect animals and pedestrians in the dark at distances of over 900 feet, well before you can see them. At a closer range, it identifies and displays their position and direction of movement.

All information, entertainment and comfort features are controlled via the iDrive system. The system has a 10.25-inch, high-resolution display and controls for accessing the radio, CD, telephone and navigational system. It also has an 80GB hard drive for storing navigation system maps, saved maps, and an electronic owner’s manual. It also has an entertainment server capable of uploading music, photos, and files from a CD/DVD player or USB port. You can even import music from CDs, MP3 players or USB sticks onto the hard drive. The Premium Sound has 16-speaker surround sound with a nine-channel amplifier and 600 watts of power. Adaptor plugs allow stereo playback from iPhones, iPods, and other MP3 stereo systems. In addition to AM/FM radio, the stereo system includes HD radio technology. It also has two high-resolution screens and multimedia entertainment systems for rear passengers.

Have trouble parking? The rear-view camera, located by the trunk handle, can display obstacles behind you. The Parking Distance Control with four front sensors and four rear sensors measure distance from other vehicles or objects. As you get closer to an object, the iDrive screen image changes, and you hear a beeping that becomes faster as you get closer to objects. If you need help finding a parking space in the first place, the Parking Assistant uses ultrasonic sensors in the side indicators to search for parking spots. Blue arrows indicate if parking is available on the left or right side of the road. Once you find a spot, Parking Assistant will automatically control steering, accelerator and brake to park the car.

On the comfort side, 18-way power front seats help conform the seats to your body. You can control horizontal, vertical and angle adjustments. You can also control an articulated upper backrest, headrest and four way adjustable lumbar support. Once the perfect comfort position is found, both the driver and front-passenger can save the position into memory.

Refer to the BMW 5-Series web site to see specific model and feature support:

Performance Specifications

Now for a few specifications for those with a need for speed. The 528i sedan with its 3.0 liter, 6-cylinder engine produces 240-hp and 230 lb-ft of torque. It can go from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds.

The 535i with the 3.0 liter, 6-cylinder twin turbo engine produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. It can do 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

Lastly, the 550i with its 4.4 liter, V8 with twin turbo technology produces 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. BMW haven’t announced maximum speed and acceleration specifications at this time.

Is the BMW 5-Series right for you?

BMW cars seem to instill a fanatical following from their owners. This can be good and bad. The good news, the 5-Series warrants driver obsession and belief that it is the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” The bad news, many non-BMW drivers view BMW drivers as thinking they own the road, and driving like they own the road. With the car tends to come a driver stereotype. I’ll admit that BMW drivers are often aggressive drivers. The car encourages aggressive driving, and supports it through excellent power and handling. I don’t know if the BMW 5-Series attracts owners of this stereotype, or the car brings it out in all of us. Either way, it is a fun car to drive.

For additional information on the 2010 BMW 5-Series Sedan and Gran Turismos see the following reviews:

BMW 5-Series Sedan

BMW 5-Series Gran Turismos


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