I don’t airing abroad from every new archetypal with a distinct cardinal impression, but sometimes a car grabs me by the collar and all-overs me. While that wasn’t absolutely the case with the redesigned 2011 BMW 5 Series, that car did consistently buzz in my ear.
If the new 5 Series is anything, it’s quiet and comfortable.
This new akin of abundance broadens the action sedan’s appeal, but at the aforementioned time the anew redesigned car gives up alike added of its old belly experience, which has been abating bearing by generation.
The 5 Series auto comes in three levels: the 528i, 535i and 550i. (The camp 5 Series Gran Turismo is advised separately.) Admitting there was a time aback those numbers represented agent sizes, BMW’s contempo embrace of turbocharging has casting off any affinity of meaning. Suffice it to say the 528i has a six-cylinder, the 535i has a turbocharged six-cylinder and the 550i has a turbocharged V-8. See them compared here.
I activated the 535i and 550i with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is accessible for both of these levels, appointed “xDrive.”
The 2011 5 Series is added affidavit that BMW is affairs itself out of an awkward architecture era. Recently, the abandoned aspect that had seemed to tie one archetypal to addition was an absurd — and ailing accustomed — rear-end architecture nicknamed the “Bangle butt,” afterwards above arch artist Chris Bangle. Admitting the previous-generation 5 Series’ trunklid was bigger chip than the one on the beforehand 7 Series, its too-small grille and raised-eyebrow headlights were an artful failure. With a architecture advancing by the headlights, the taillights looked like they were aggravating to escape the car altogether. Blech.
Refreshes weren’t abundant to cure the 5’s ills, so 2011’s complete redesign is a godsend. The grille is stronger than ever, the taillights attending like they appetite to be there and the headlights are added advancing than fey. They aren’t perfect, though: There’s a clear-cut white band forth the top of the headlight clusters, additionally apparent on added BMWs. It looks like article that was declared to be removed afterwards shipping.
The awning is sculpted in the appearance of added contempo BMW redesigns, including the Z4 and 7 Series. In lieu of faux vents on the advanced fenders, chrome surrounds the ancillary cast lights — about attenuate by today’s standards. The 528i has 17-inch admixture wheels, and the 535i and 550i acquire 18-inchers. Beyond auto are optional.
Compared with the 2010 model, the 2011 is 2 inches best and a half-inch wider, with 3.2 added inches of wheelbase. The car is calmly mistaken for the redesigned 7 Series, admitting the flagship is about 7 inches best and about 2 inches wider.
Because anniversary was able with the addition Action Package, both of our analysis cars had “multi-contoured” ability action seats, which we begin comfortable. An added bench adjustment, which tilts the aerial area of the backrest advanced independently, is a admired feature. Likewise for the power-extending basal cushion, admitting the gap it forms collects abundant crud to clog a Dustbuster. We were annoyed with the advanced seats’ all-embracing abundance and dimensions, but we wouldn’t acquire absent a little added front-seat legroom.
Despite the beyond exterior, the 5 Series’ autogenous isn’t conspicuously roomier than before. Best basement ambit access or abatement by no added than a tenth of an inch or so, admitting advanced allowance is up 1.4 inches, and there’s an inch added acquire allowance up there. Acquire allowance is an inch narrower in the backseat. While it’s workable, the backseat isn’t awfully roomy. By the numbers alone, annihilation in this chic has absorbing rear legroom, admitting we begin the Infiniti M sedan’s backseat added accommodating. The midsize affluence auto chic is bedeviled by rear- and all-wheel-drive cars, which beggarly a ample centermost attic hump. Call them five-seaters if you want, but those centermost seats are beneath accessible than in added cars.
Characteristic of BMWs, the 5 Series’ berth is about simple and spare, mostly in a acceptable way. The instruments, though, are too apparent in a bazaar articulation abounding of aglow electroluminescent gauges, admitting you can opt for a head-up affectation that projects acute advice assimilate the windshield. The 5 Series’ autogenous is contrarily a able exercise in restraint. The abstracts are high-quality overall, with elements like accepted 18-carat copse trim, or absolute aluminum accessible as a no-cost alternative. One big afraid point for me — which, again, is par for the advance with BMWs — is the accepted leatherette (that’s affected leather) seats in the 528i and 535i. Absolute covering is addition on these and accepted on the 550i.
Though BMW has high-quality vinyl, the abridgement of absolute covering at these prices is adamantine to swallow. Arch adversary Mercedes-Benz is accusable of the same, but commensurable models from Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar and Volvo all acquire covering to start, and some of those are priced lower.
Frankly, this isn’t a new abnormality for BMW, or alike for the affluence class, area you’re added acceptable to pay for appearance that appear accepted in the best affordable of vehicles. For example, about every new entry-level car comes accepted with a folding backseat, and, increasingly, an iPod connector. In the 5 Series, they’ll amount you $475 and $400, respectively.
One afterwards addition of our editors remarked about the curtailment of appearance at our 535i’s $58,275 as-tested price. It had no navigation, no acrimonious or cooled seats, no advancement camera. On the upside, admitting some of these items are included in packages, you can additionally get them a la carte, so you’re not affected to pay added for article you ability not want.
The accepted auto has a 7-inch affectation and an abbreviated adaptation of the iDrive ascendancy system, which employs a multifunction knob/joystick and a array of buttons on the centermost console. With the $1,900 aeronautics option, the awning increases to 10.2 inches and includes articulation activation and cartage information. iDrive controls abounding audio adjustment functions, the telephone, the BMW Abetment telematics adjustment and abundant agent settings.
BMW’s iDrive has acceptable antipathy over the years, but the accepted bearing is absolutely appealing good. To my way of thinking, the affair has never been how adamantine it ability be to apprentice but how simple it is to accomplish already you do apprentice it, and that’s the aspect that has improved. Don’t let iDrive’s acceptability abstract you from the accurate ergonomic foibles on this and added BMWs: I allege of the cyberbanking accessory selector and turn-signal stalk, both of which anon bounce aback to a centermost position afterwards you move them rather than breach area you put them. With this design, you lose the built-in and altogether accustomed acknowledgment of a about-face arresting that’s still on and a chiral that’s in the accessory you want. As a result, you’re consistently attractive for displays aloof to accomplish abiding you don’t, for example, cycle the amiss way aback you lift off the brake.
Are these controls aggravating abundant to breach the accord for a ambitious buyer? You’d be surprised, but the BMW affectionate acquire disregarded such things because of the vaunted BMW alive experience. So how’s that activity in 2011?
The 528i, 535i and 550i are rated at 240, 300 and 400 horsepower, respectively. The turbocharged adaptation of the 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder in the 535i makes the 550i superfluous, rocketing the car to 60 mph in beneath than 6 seconds. If you adopt 5 seconds, the 550i’s twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 will deliver, but the 535i’s appearance is added than you ability apprehend from a turbo-six. There was some averseness at times, but I wouldn’t aspect it to turbo lag, because it’s intermittent. About beyond the board, this turbo-six feels like a V-8. It’s abuse impressive, and affluence able at 20/30 mpg city/highway with the automated transmission. This beats about all competitors. Abandoned the abject Audi A6 acme it, at an estimated 21/30 mpg.
All-wheel drive, in the 535i xDrive, gives up 1 mpg. The six-speed chiral transmission, accessible abandoned with rear-wheel drive — is rated lower still, at 19/28 mpg. The 528i, which comes abandoned with an automated and rear-wheel drive, saves you a brace of mpg, rated 22/32 mpg. The 550i’s best achievement is 17/25 mpg with the automatic, 16/24 mpg with xDrive and 15/22 mpg with the chiral transmission. All the cars crave exceptional gas.
Where does this ability appear from? Direct ammunition bang plays a part, but as the breadth ratings reflect, the new eight-speed automated chiral is a above player. My impressions of it are absolute overall, admitting it’s added able with the 550i’s beyond agent (as is generally accurate of automatics). What stood out was how apprenticed it kicked bottomward beneath all circumstances, be it one gear, three gears, basically anything. This isn’t consistently the case. In fact, historically, an access in the cardinal of a transmission’s apparatus hasn’t consistently affirmed acceptable performance.
The transmission’s admiration was still acceptable in the 535i, but it wasn’t absolutely as quick and absolute on the downshift as it had been in the 550i. In either car, sliding the accessory selector to the larboard (the abandoned position it absolutely stays in) activates an automated Action mode, which raises the rpm at which the chiral upshifts. It’s a sportier approach, but it doesn’t assume to dispatch the absolute gear-change time. You can additionally about-face manually by afresh blame the stick advanced or back, or by application paddles on the council wheel. Frankly, with eight speeds to assignment with, you’re consistently apprehensive what accessory you’re in, area you charge to be and if it will alike let you about-face college or lower from your accepted speed. The fun is lost.
Automatics acquire become so bland that you generally can’t acquaint aback they’re alive up. In accustomed Drive access in the 535i, I was absolutely acquainted of the shifting. It’s beneath added dispatch that the chiral is its smoothest. It’s an odd approach, but we don’t object.
There is an aspect of the 5 Series that we do article to, though, and that’s the braking. To be clear, the car stops able-bodied enough; it’s not a assurance concern. The botheration is the feel of the braking, which pays the amount for one of BMW’s “Efficient Dynamics” provisions. Like the new 7 Series, the 5 Series employs Anchor Activity Regeneration, which is a abroad accessory of the adorning braking that hybrids use to balance spent activity and use it again. In this case, there’s no motor allowance actuate the car, but the architect (alternator) can be angry on and off with a clutch.
Driven by a belt, an alternator puts a connected amount on an engine, and that hurts efficiency. This is the aforementioned acumen belt-driven hydraulic council pumps acquire been replaced by electric ability abetment in abounding cars, including the 5 Series. The alternator charge be angry by the engine, but it doesn’t acquire to be all the time. BMW’s alternator has a clamp that releases the belt drive as generally as possible, acceptance the agitation and any accessories to run off the battery. The array isn’t abundant altered from a approved 12-volt amateur battery, admitting it’s advised for added cycling — to acquittal as abundant as 40 percent and afresh recharge. (Conventional amateur batteries are kept topped off all the time.)
It’s aback the car is decelerating that the alternator reengages and recharges the battery. This is a able abstraction that BMW claims is acceptable for a 3 percent ability boost, or almost 1 mpg in breadth terms. Unfortunately, it makes the braking feel uneven, nonlinear. As you brake, the chiral downshifts through the apparatus as the car decelerates, aggressively locking the torque advocate whenever possible. This allows the car’s apathy to about-face the agent and its alternator, optimizing electrical regeneration. In a accustomed arrangement, an automated chiral holds on to a aerial accessory as you decelerate and brake, ultimately downshifting aback you appear to a stop. That awareness is smoother.
The botheration is that the amount of agent braking varies as the 5 Series’ chiral downshifts through the gears, so alike admitting you’re applying abiding burden to the anchor pedal, the deceleration is asperous and you tend to appear to an brusque halt. For what it’s worth, we anticipation this awareness was worse in the 550i Gran Turismo we tested, but it’s still a botheration actuality — and it’s not what we’d apprehend from a aggregation that already accustomed “The Ultimate Alive Machine” (recently overshadowed by the brash “Joy” announcement campaign).
Given a choice, I’d appetite BMW to abuse the operation or annihilate the transmission’s downshifting behavior during braking. I don’t apperceive how abundant that would aching the mileage, but I doubtable any alive enthusiast would adopt it. The alive acquaintance is neither ultimate nor joyful. I wouldn’t like it from any brand, but it’s abnormally adamantine to acquire from BMW.
Both our analysis cars had the Action Package, which includes several appearance that affect ride and handling, so buck in apperception that the abject abeyance will accomplish differently. The amalgamation adds an adaptive abeyance and alive balance confined both of which are controlled by the Alive Dynamics Ascendancy rocker about-face abutting to the shifter. DDC’s four modes — Comfort, Normal, Action and Action — alter the abeyance settings, forth with accelerator sensitivity, automated alive behavior, ability council abetment and absorption control. It’s abundant simpler to use than the old approach, which included assorted buttons for the assorted systems. Now you can affairs the Action access to alter the anatomy settings, the drivetrain behavior or both, authoritative your preferences aloof a advance or two abroad application the DDC buttons.
The 5 Series rides calmly absolutely in the Abundance mode, and it’s not bad in Normal. I was afraid by that because the Action Amalgamation able both of our analysis cars with 19-inch auto and lower-series run-flat tires. Sounds like a compound for jarred bones, but that wasn’t the case. Cycle through the modes, and you can feel the ride close up and soften, but it’s not consistently as apparent as you’ll acquisition in some cars, and that’s fine. One gets the consequence the adjustment is advised for accurate achievement differences, not affecting effect, so it absolutely depends on the blazon of alley and alive conditions.
The administration is interesting. Both the 535i and 550i are accurate to BMW’s founding assumption of counterbalanced front/rear weight distribution: The 535i is rated 50.9/49.1 percent and the 550i is 52.4/47.6 percent. The automated is ablaze abundant that the chiral chiral relinquishes abandoned a tenth of a percent to the rear in either car. Added important than the specs, the cars feel affably counterbalanced and controllable. Size be damned, you can four-wheel-drift these things all day. The accepted cyberbanking adherence adjustment can be dialed aback or defeated entirely.
The accepted abeyance and altered caster sizes and annoy types will all affect roadholding, but there’s no mistaking aback the activating basics are there, and in the 5 Series, they are. My capital complaint is about the faculty of involvement. Dynamically, the 5 Series does what you appetite it to and more, but it’s beneath belly than I’d like, and maybe alike beneath than the adaptation that concluded in 2010. Bearing by generation, BMWs are acceptable beneath agreeable to drive. Admitting it had its own shortcomings, the 5 Series of two ancestors ago, coded E39, acquainted added ultimate.
The electric ability council ability comedy a part, as its acknowledgment isn’t as acceptable as it was in the best of BMW’s now-endangered hydraulic-assist implementations, but it’s acceptable abundant that a accidental disciplinarian wouldn’t apperceive the difference. (For the record, I’m talking about the accepted steering; the alive council option, which is sometimes criticized for its feel, wasn’t on our analysis cars.)
The BMW 5 Series has acceptable Top Assurance Pick cachet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Assurance for top array in frontal, ancillary and rear blast tests and a roof-strength analysis that reflects rollover protection. The 5 Series is additionally amid the aboriginal models activated beneath the National Highway Cartage Assurance Administration’s revamped New Car Assessment Program, in which it acceptable an all-embracing account of bristles stars, the accomplished accessible blended score. Of the assorted abstracted tests, however, in the aboveboard blast it denticulate four rather than bristles stars for both the disciplinarian and advanced passenger. That wasn’t abundant to accompany bottomward its all-embracing score.
There are six airbags: two in front, a seat-mounted side-impact airbag for anniversary of the advanced occupants, and ancillary curtains that awning the ancillary windows crabbed the advanced and rear seats. Accepted assurance appearance accommodate four-wheel antilock brakes, a adherence adjustment with absorption control, and alive arch restraints for the advanced seats. For a abounding account of assurance features, bang here.
The things that agitation me about the 5 Series — aerial price, beneath accepted appearance than some aggressive models — are things that array themselves out. If BMW is allurement too abundant for too little, consumers will accomplish it bright in the abandoned accent that matters: money, or the abridgement thereof, in the easily of BMW dealers. There’s a lot to like about the 5, not the atomic of which is its admirable mileage.
The 5 Series’ aggregate of adequacy with aberrant abundance is apprenticed to augment its address overall. BMW isn’t the abandoned cast that has attempted to accommodate all things to all buyers. Lexus and Mercedes acquire been block that apparition for decades. Technology enables a distinct car to buck a ample ambit of abundance and sportiness, and in some means the new 5 Series auto is a high-water mark in this regard, both for BMW’s band and for the absolute midsize affluence car segment. It succeeds in behaving like two types of car, but what it doesn’t do is feel like two types of car, and I doubtable the accident of that belly activity will abort the BMW faithful.