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      12-12-2011, 06:03 PM   #1
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535i test drive - BMW builds a Benz. Sigh.

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Just got my car back from service where the loaner was a 2011 535i (N55 engine).

What can I say, the car is very luxurious, the interior is executed absolutely perfectly for an executive car. Superb ergonomics, amazing materials and fit&finish, excellent ride on runflats, car was reasonably quick and the average mpg was over 20. Oh yeah, and it looks absolutely gorgeous to my eyes.

So why didn't I like it one bit?

I drove the previous generation cars (535i and 528i, both stock non-sport) and they drove like a BMW should, I wasn't expecting much and was extremely impressed. A more mature driving experience for sure, but still imbued with that iron-fist-in-velvet sense of control that the best BMW's posses. Didn't like the design but thought to myself I could absolutely live with it because the driving experience was so good. I entertained the idea of getting one for my wife (still do).

All that is gone in the new car. Treacle steering with no self-centering and zero feedback, floaty suspension (so it can ride well on those stupid runflats), a marked disconnect between front and rear suspension movements, heavy heavy chassis that takes awhile to settle and all crowned with an automatic gearbox with a silly selector. Did I mention it has a *big* footprint?

Oh yeah - forget all the hoopla about the 8 speed being as responsive as a manual, if you believe that might as well give my best regards to the Easter Bunny. But automatic transmission rant aside, my overall impression was of a beautifully executed, solidly engineered barge of a car, without any soul or character. A Benz in other words. Go drive one if you don't believe me...

RIP, 5 series.
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      12-12-2011, 06:05 PM   #2
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Even the salesman at the stealer called it a "baby 7" but in a derogatory way.
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      12-12-2011, 06:13 PM   #3
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I have one of these...when you compare it directly to the m3 or any 3er for that matter it will definitely feel floaty, but no where near as floaty as the merc or Lexus competing models.

I think it has the perfect balance of comfort, luxury, and handling. I have the sport pkg and the 19 rears are wider than the m3.

Anyhow yes it does roll more than any other 3 but IMO its a great balance and fantastic car.

Also the servo is pretty sweet. Hate the big ass steering wheel tho. Feels like a driving a bus at times
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      12-12-2011, 06:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by richpuer View Post
I have one of these...when you compare it directly to the m3 or any 3er for that matter it will definitely feel floaty, but no where near as floaty as the merc or Lexus competing models.

I think it has the perfect balance of comfort, luxury, and handling. I have the sport pkg and the 19 rears are wider than the m3.

Anyhow yes it does roll more than any other 3 but IMO its a great balance and fantastic car.

Also the servo is pretty sweet. Hate the big ass steering wheel tho. Feels like a driving a bus at times
Hey listen, I don't mean to piss on anybody's parade, just gave it my honest appraisal. Interesting you compare it to Benz and *Lexus*... my comparison was with the previous 5 series you know?

I think personally I'd go for an A6 if I were in the market for a new car of this size.
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      12-12-2011, 06:30 PM   #5
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Personally I think the e60 was a hard act to follow. Such a total revolution from the past cars in so many ways and despite initial hatred for styling, was by far hte best selling 5er to date. I drove one for years and it did such an amazing job of feeling so luxurious and roomy inside but driving the same as a 3 series did in terms of handling and even better in regards to less body roll with the ARS.

Was a perfect car and it even weighed within 100 pounds of the equivelent 3 series which was awesome.

This new 5 series is just too much of a boat for me and unless its the m5 which will be clearly built differently, I would never go for one
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      12-12-2011, 06:31 PM   #6
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had one as a loaner, as well, thought it was really nice, but got bored quick and missed my manual
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      12-12-2011, 07:02 PM   #7
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We have a 550xi (which replaced our 550i)and I can tell you it is a solid perfromer. While it might feel big, it does not lack in responsiveness. Now it is not a M3, but for my wife, it is one h of a car. A great car to travel in. Hard to keep it at the speed limit. And yes, it reminds me a lot of my previous 750i.
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      12-12-2011, 07:31 PM   #8
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OP, I agree with you.

I test drove the 535i back to back with an Audi A6 and a Mercedes E class at a dealer event. To my surprise, I didn't really prefer the BMW to the Audi (the Merc felt like a boat) I didn't drive the 550i, but was told that was a more solid offering given that model had adjustable dampers and the 535i I drove did not.

Anyway, probably not a bad thing business-wise for BMWs to range from sporty and involved to comfy and detached -- despite the idea being a somewhat sad one for those of us who cling to the "ultimate driving machine" idea.
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      12-12-2011, 07:33 PM   #9
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After her test drive, my wife called it the "aircraft carrier"!

My thoughts: "could bmw make it feel any heavier??!?"

The nose bounces up and down on smooth roads and the hood is huge!

I really wanted it to be a great car..........

does the sport package make it feel smaller????
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      12-12-2011, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
Just got my car back from service where the loaner was a 2011 535i (N55 engine).

What can I say, the car is very luxurious, the interior is executed absolutely perfectly for an executive car. Superb ergonomics, amazing materials and fit&finish, excellent ride on runflats, car was reasonably quick and the average mpg was over 20. Oh yeah, and it looks absolutely gorgeous to my eyes.

So why didn't I like it one bit?

I drove the previous generation cars (535i and 528i, both stock non-sport) and they drove like a BMW should, I wasn't expecting much and was extremely impressed. A more mature driving experience for sure, but still imbued with that iron-fist-in-velvet sense of control that the best BMW's posses. Didn't like the design but thought to myself I could absolutely live with it because the driving experience was so good. I entertained the idea of getting one for my wife (still do).

All that is gone in the new car. Treacle steering with no self-centering and zero feedback, floaty suspension (so it can ride well on those stupid runflats), a marked disconnect between front and rear suspension movements, heavy heavy chassis that takes awhile to settle and all crowned with an automatic gearbox with a silly selector. Did I mention it has a *big* footprint?

Oh yeah - forget all the hoopla about the 8 speed being as responsive as a manual, if you believe that might as well give my best regards to the Easter Bunny. But automatic transmission rant aside, my overall impression was of a beautifully executed, solidly engineered barge of a car, without any soul or character. A Benz in other words. Go drive one if you don't believe me...

RIP, 5 series.
Honestly, the 535i in non-sport trim is probably the "softest" car in the entire BMW line-up. Go test drive a 550i with the M-sport package, etc. and your opinion of the 5 series may be different.
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      12-12-2011, 08:11 PM   #11
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thats why theres the m5
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      12-12-2011, 08:33 PM   #12
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This is why I went from an E60 545, and an E60 550 to the M3. The F10 550 w/ Sports Pkg does handle well for its size but the move from a sporty sedan with some luxury touches to a luxury car with some sporty aspects was pretty clear to me...
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      12-12-2011, 08:35 PM   #13
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Somewhat pointless response:

In 2006, I was in the market for a 5 series wagon. I test drove one that did not have a sport package (not available at that point). I thought it was floaty and driving it through some minor switchbacks, I thought it felt a bit unstable. I then test drove an E350 wagon (also 2006) and actually liked its handling better and purchased one.

I stand by my own personal assessment at the time and think the E350 was the best choice for me. However, now that I've had that car for a while, I regret every purchasing it for a myriad of reasons related to reliability. I also think the E350 body style looks dated when compared to the previous generation 5 series wagon.
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      12-12-2011, 08:39 PM   #14
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I miss the E34 M5...

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      12-12-2011, 08:43 PM   #15
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Welcome to the new BMW
You're thinking of the BMW of "the ultimate driving machine" era
The new ones are "joy"
how gay
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      12-12-2011, 09:10 PM   #16
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Welcome to the new BMW
You're thinking of the BMW of "the ultimate driving machine" era
The new ones are "joy"
how gay
no no, its a company full of ideas.

I still have a E61 535xi wagon (only 4 days left). It is a very practical car, and has served me well. I bought mine with a sport package and 6MT. Its a fun car to driver around (it also has Dinan Stage 1), but its no M3.

I also test drove a 550i and I didn't like it at all. Although the car has power and delivers it smoothly. Its almost like you are accelerating a big rig. .... You're too far away from that connection to the road. I also noticed many squeeks and creeks in the new 5 series. Definately not built like they used to be. The panels and trim felt really cheaply put together.
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      12-12-2011, 09:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richpuer View Post
I have one of these...when you compare it directly to the m3 or any 3er for that matter it will definitely feel floaty, but no where near as floaty as the merc or Lexus competing models.

I think it has the perfect balance of comfort, luxury, and handling. I have the sport pkg and the 19 rears are wider than the m3.

Anyhow yes it does roll more than any other 3 but IMO its a great balance and fantastic car.

Also the servo is pretty sweet. Hate the big ass steering wheel tho. Feels like a driving a bus at times
Does that mean you now have bought 4 new bimmers in less than a year?!?!? What you got going on over there brother!?!?!?
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      12-13-2011, 01:47 AM   #18
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I also test drove a f10 when I was car shopping, and boy was I disappointed. That thing was a pig! Needless to say, I got an M3
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      12-13-2011, 03:59 AM   #19
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I wanted to love the F10 but it just didn't have the right dynamics when driving (test drove both 550i and 535i) compared to my m3. I loved the upgraded interior and luxury features but it didn't feel sporty enough. I look forward to testing the new m5 next year.
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      12-13-2011, 08:47 AM   #20
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Had an F10 528i with the sport package as a service loaner. First time I've ever been truly disappointed with a BMW. The non-Sport E60 528i's I used to get as loaners were so much better to drive, I always loved getting one because they loved to be hustled. Not anymore. I've never driven a BMW that drove bigger than it is until the F10. When you compare it to the E60, it drives like you're wearing boxing gloves and clown shoes.
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      12-13-2011, 02:15 PM   #21
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Had an F10 528i with the sport package as a service loaner. First time I've ever been truly disappointed with a BMW. The non-Sport E60 528i's I used to get as loaners were so much better to drive, I always loved getting one because they loved to be hustled. Not anymore. I've never driven a BMW that drove bigger than it is until the F10. When you compare it to the E60, it drives like you're wearing boxing gloves and clown shoes.
+1.

Yes, exactly right. The E60 528i non-sport was an absolute delight, to my surprise.
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      12-13-2011, 02:16 PM   #22
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Honestly, the 535i in non-sport trim is probably the "softest" car in the entire BMW line-up. Go test drive a 550i with the M-sport package, etc. and your opinion of the 5 series may be different.
Does it have a hydraulic steering system? If it doesn't, then it may do very little for me. Probably weighs more than the 535i too...
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