The New BMW 5 Series


Drum roll please: The NEW BMW 5 Series for 2010. Ta-dah! I’ve noticed of late, that when it comes to German manufactures, it’s their mid range cars that get all the focus. Oh sure, they hold up the S-Class or the 7 Series or the A8 as the top of the line, and they are, but if you’ll notice, a lot of ad space, marketing dollars and comfort and convenience features for into the E-Class and the 5 Series (not sure about how Audi views the A6 just as of yet).

Why? I believe that overall, that’s where the money is. They sell more 5s & Es that hey do the top of the line luxo-boats. Sure, a person may aspire to owning the range toppers, but look what “mid-level” gets you these days.

As you would expect, BMW’s latest iteration of its market leader is packed to the gills with technology. The Bavarians seek to solidify their place being, “just as good as Mercedes, but sportier”. OK, hard to argue with that logic.

BMW says that the new 5 is “… the epitome of modern design and driving pleasure in the world of premium midsize sedans.” OK, sure. That’s another way of saying, “The BMW 5 Series, just like last years, only better!”

The BMW presser goes on at length and in minute detail over what the new five has to offer. No, I won’t include it here, nor will I go into the details like Beemer did (the thing is a Das Kapital-sized tome at nearly 8000 words). But here’s the overview of various highlights.

First and foremost, BMW talks up the design of the new 5 Series. They even give in the heading “Design: charismatic and athletic.” Sure who could argue with that? I could. The latest five is better than the last few, but that’s not saying much. BMW is now driving into some sort of bland middle of the design world, which was better than where they used to be. I’m not sure how BMW is going to move away from those hideous Bangle years, but they’re going to have to. Maybe just move into the bland, beige middle, and wait for a real designer to come along.

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As far as what has always been the most important aspect of a BMW, the driving, they still seem to be on top of their game there. First off, there’s an option called the Sport Package. Tick of that selection box, and you’ll get Adaptive Drive, which gives you a whole raft of goodies like Driving Dynamics Control, Electronic Damper Control, and Active Roll Stabilization. There’s also optional Integral Active Steering, which BMW says will ” virtually extend or shorten the vehicle\’s wheelbase for improved stability at high speeds and enhanced agility at lower speeds.” No, I don’t know how that will work either.

What’s under the hood? You got your choice of two engines. Either a V-8 or an inline-6 gasoline engine (no mention of diesels). The range topping 550i comes with a \”reverse-flow\” V-8 plant with twin turbochargers and High Precision direct injection for maximum output of 400 hp. No, I don’t know what \”reverse-flow\” or “High Precision direct injection” means either, but BMW sure has a way with buzzwords these days.

If you go with the BMW 535i, you’ll get a new inline-6 in the engine bay. The straight six gives you one twin-scroll turbocharger bolted to it, along with the same High Precision direct injection, and VALVETRONIC throttle-less intake technology. The sixer cranks out a maximum of 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, and both mills will be available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a new 8-speed automatic transmission, or another new \”Sport Automatic\” 8-speed.

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There’s a whole slew of techno-wizardry in the new five everywhere you look. BMW refers to them as “EfficientDynamics technologies”, and they include such niceties as Brake Energy Regeneration, Electric Power Steering, a gearshift point indicator, active cooling air flaps, and on-demand operation of engine accessory drives. BMW has also worked more on using lightweight materials to balance the vehicle and lower its weight, including such nifty features as aluminum doors, hood, front fenders, and suspension assemblies.

And since this is the 2010 model we’re talking about, there’s a raft of driver “assistance” systems. There’s a Parking Assistant, Top View cameras, and Frontal Collision Warning that applies the brakes when ordered with Active Cruise Control plus Stop & Go, a Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, a Head-Up Display, and BMW’s Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection.

But probably the most interesting note in the gigantic press release is the mention that the new 5 Series is being jointly developed and produced alongside the new BMW 7 Series. The new 5 Series model is based on newly developed vehicle architecture that can also be found in the BMW 7 Series. The two cars also make extensive use of shared components.

So it seems that not just in perception, but in fact, that the 5 Series moves closer to the 7 Series all the time.

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