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BMW 5-Series Sedans

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  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    I am contemplating a 5 series as my next ride.
    My last bmw was a 330i sport package which I loved but now I'm coming off of a Lexus LS and want to go back to the sportier BMW but I still want some luxury and elegance. I will cross shop with MB and others but I wanted to understand the difference between the 550 and 535. It seems to me that the 0-60 times would be very close and the mileage is better on the 6 cylinder vs the 8. What are the advantages to the higher priced 550. Luxury and comfort are important to me.
    Thank you for any and all input.
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Topspin, I think this is an interesting comparison, perhaps you will report back if you take some test drives. Having owned an E34 and E39 with I-6's (both very smooth), I've thought my next 5-series would have a V-8, looking for that muscular feel. Having said that, I've often felt that the 5-series chassis is better balanced with a I-6 up front.

    As you note, the new 535 offers performance numbers similar to the 550, but to be honest, I've always thought of turbo's as something of a "crutch", maybe just that old-school "no replacement for displacement" mentality. So I'd be interested in how the driving experiences compare. The 535 is roughly 250+ lighter, always a virtue for enhancing performance, but I dare say that the 550 will exhibit that torquey V-8 feel that is tough to replicate, and can be oh-so-alluring. But will agility suffer in comparison? An extra 250 pounds out front doesn't help.

    Guess I'm not helping much, just ruminating on the question I've also been considering. Luxury-wise, I'm pretty sure the models can be comparably equipped, but typically some 535 options may be standard on a 550 (I didn't specifically check), so that can tighten the price differential.

    So luxury aside, can a turbo-charged 6 offer enough oomph to satisfy that V-8 lust, while offering the added bonus of less weight and a super-smooth I-6? And can I overlook my general aversion to turbo's? Sounds like you're in the market, how about posting a comparison test report? Heck, you got me thinking, maybe I should head to the dealer myself!

    (As an aside, I would also consider an E-series MB, but while they are very fine cars, I don't think they have quite the sporty edge of a BMW. Perhaps more troubling, recent reliability ratings for MB's have not been all that great.)
  • richardga73richardga73 Posts: 84
    Thanks for your reply bruceomega. In looking at the multi contour seats how did the bolsters compare to the sport seats? I currently have a 2006 e500 mercedes and the bolsters sorta suck. I liked the 3 sport seats in going into a hard turn they "grabbed" you and kept you solid. In the mercedes in sport mode I almost slide off the seat. Do the multi contoured seats have as large a bolstering and do they have great lumbar support? By the way the 535xi sounds interesting, however, the xi has to add most of that lost weight back with the 4 wheel drive. Its true that weight is more important in cornering and the sequential turbos shouldnt feel like the typical (see volvo) turbo car.
  • richardga73richardga73 Posts: 84
    I have an e 500 and while the bolsters arent great,overall, it is a very fine car. The interesting thing that the 5 doesnt have that the e has is the 3 part suspension. Somedays you just dont feel like being in a sports car and just want a hassle free smooth ride on the way home from hectic work. On the way to work( I go at 5am with no traffic), however, early in the morning I put it in the stiffest sport mode and drive it hard! It is like 2 cars in one. If it had those damn bolsters it would be almost the perfect car. By the way, no problems reliability wise.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    ... An extra 250 pounds out front doesn't help. ...

    The V8 isn't 250 pounds heavier than the I-6. That weight differential is for the whole car. The 550i comes with more standard equipment than the 535i. That's what accounts for most, if not all, of the extra weight. I'd bet the weight difference between the V8 and the twin turbo I-6 is very little. Heck, the V8 might be slightly lighter than the twin turbo I-6. But anyway, a comparably equipped 535i won't be much, if at all, lighter than a 550i. Then again, I think I read somewhere that the 550i has some more beefy structural components versus the I-6 equipped 5s. :confuse:
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Richard, thanks for the input. Checking the MB site, I don't seem to see an adjustable suspension feature--is that part of the Sport Suspension? I know lots of people like the 5-series with the Sport Package, but for our crummy midwest roads, I've always found the standard suspension to be plenty firm. Something that is adjustable sounds appealing. And isn't Active Suspension now available on a 5?

    Have you had your E500 very long? Do you have the 7-speed? Did you happen to compare prices to a 550? (not that a few thousand matters when you're blowing $65K!) Any particular likes/dislikes? I'd say insufficient bolsters seems pretty minor if that's your only gripe.

    You're certainly punching the buttons on my short list, I'm sort of biding my time since my E39 has very low miles (I now commute by train, so it just sits in the garage and depreciates), and I wouldn't mind buying either a 5-series or E-series when the body styles change in a couple of years. I was thinking V-8 since I really wouldn't drive it all that much, so mileage not a huge issue.
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Derrick, I admit I was generalizing about "250 pounds out front", but even without the specific numbers, I'm pretty sure that a typical V-8 is heavier than an I-6, 2 heads, 2 cylinder blocks, twice the cams, dual cam drives, etc. Of course, the 535 will have those turbo's and plumbing, which ARE heavy. And while you're quite right about the 550 having more optional equipment, I'm not so sure that adds that much to the weight--after all, it's things like power seats (that used to be "options" on cars) that are heavy, but they all have that.

    And after all, that's an extra 250+ pounds that is hauled around all the time. I know that's just like merely having a beefy person always riding with you in the car (ie, not really noticeable), but I am pretty big on keeping a sedan this size as much below 2 tons as possible--all in the interest of responsiveness in all respects.

    Hey, I'm not saying I'm not conflicted about it! And considering all the SUV's and such driving around at well over 5000#, I guess these 5-ers are lightweights!
  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    I checked out the bmw web site and did a comparo of the two. It looks like about a 5-6k spread if you load up the 535xi with all the goodies so that they are the "same". Now, you do get all wheel drive in the xi so that's a plus. In addition, the 0-60 times for the autos on both were within .1 or .2 both blistering fast sub mid 5 seconds. Gas mileage is considerably better in the 6 cyl. turbo. So unless I'm missing something the twin turbo seems like a better value, unless you "gotta have the V8". Maybe it's smoother??? The reports on the twin turbo are stellar, though.
    When I was shopping for my 3 series there was a poster named "shipo" who was an expert in BMW. Is he still around?
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    richardga73,

    The 535xi I test drove had the standard seats while a 535xiT on the showroom floor had the multi-contour seats.

    I honestly did not pay much attention to the standard seats, as I was concentrating on the driving, but they were comfortable. I am coming from a 3 series, and even the standard seats in the 5 series are wider and (I think) deeper, which is more comfortable for me.

    The MC seats have adjustable side bolsters, but we didn't experiment much with them. I felt them getting snug as the salesman adjusted them, but don't know if they can be made as close hugging as those in my 3 series sport seats (which are narrower, and can be very snug fitting).

    The MC seats have a whole host of adjustments. I especially noticed the support they could be adjusted to provide for my shoulders, neck, and head.

    I did not notice turbo lag. If it's there, I did not detect it in my casual driving in low speed traffic, or when I stepped on the gas on the highway. I am only interested in AWD, so I did not factor in the extra weight in my purchase decision.

    Bruce
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    I just checked the web site, too, and I would first note that if you're talking a 535ix v. 550, any weight advantage for the I-6 is gone--but I only note 1 mpg difference in mileage (for 6-speed auto), 15/23 for V-8, 16/24 for ix. And 0-60 times are all but identical.

    I didn't run the pricing, but I don't think you're missing anything, you'd save a pretty good chunk of dough, and get all-wheel drive, with the ix. Even though I'm in the midwest, I'm one of about 3 people in the entire area who's not sold on all-wheel drive, I'm just not nuts about hauling around the extra weight for what?, maybe 10 really crummy snow days--but as I say, I'm in a very small minority (this is ignoring any possible diminished steering feel in an all wheel drive v. a rear drive.)

    And I'm not even sure about a V-8 being "smoother", I'6's are inherently the smoother engines. Sounds like back-to-back test drives are in order, although go with the 535ix if all-wheel is what you'd like. I've also read good reviews of the twin-turbo (in a 335i, I think.)

    And yes, I still do see Shipo posting, put out an APB on the "maintenance" forum, maybe he'll weigh in.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hey gang, yup, I'll still around. ;-)

    That said, I'm about two years removed from my last BMW, and my wife just got the official word today that we're being moved overseas and that means that it will be sometime longer before I can contemplate getting back into one. :-(

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,574
    I'm just not nuts about hauling around the extra weight for what?, maybe 10 really crummy snow days--but as I say, I'm in a very small minority (this is ignoring any possible diminished steering feel in an all wheel drive v. a rear drive.)

    I'd take a true limited slip final drive over AWD any day. Calling ///M Division... ;)

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I'd take a true limited slip final drive over AWD any day."

    Ditto!

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • richardga73richardga73 Posts: 84
    All of the e500's have the suspension that has the three settings.There is luxury,mid, and sport. The sport is sporty but is not harsh like my 3sport and the luxury setting is very smooth but controlled. It has air shocks which allow the adjustments.The air shocks while smooth in all settings seem a little isolated. I think I might prefer the spring shocks for feel.Yes, the 7 speed auto transmission is a dream and very reponsive. Not since my 1990 300zx twinturbo have I had a transmission that responded to the slightest nudge. I have also a 1998 e430 and it is less isolated and has spring shocks. I test drove a 550 auto nonsport before I bought the e500. First of all it was white which made it look like a large refrigerator this body style doesnt look good in white. Second, as I was driving alone without the salesman(I prefer it that way) I actually couldnt turn the radio off to hear whether the car was quiet or not! The idrive being that hard to deal with. I think the true test of whether a body style is good looking or not is how it looks in white.Everything looks good in black. The 550 has to be the perfect color with the right wheels to look just ok, still havent gotten use to the looks of it. Everything looks tacked on in person with no flow to the body. The e500 is gorgeous from any angle and I am a sucker for a really good looking car. Mercedes while maybe not having quite the driving dynamics as BMW's still look much better and along with the idrive fiasco tipped the scales.My mind is still with the BMW,they really connect with the driver and yet have a funny almost slight disregard for the looks department. Dont get me wrong they look better than Hondas and we are lucky to be driving any of these cars.
  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    E500 is one of the cars I will consider along with the 5 series. What do you think of the E350 vs the E550? Can you post a review of your car? Some key factors for me are: Seat comfort, steering feel, stereo quality. What are your ratings of those on your car. How has the quality been since some late model MB's have had their problems. By the way, I was driven in a new S Class today and that is one beautiful car. The interior is beautiful. I always felt that the E Class was a notch below the S Class in the feel and quality of the interior. I'm not sure why they couldn't make the E a baby S or maybe they have in your 500?
    Thank you
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    V-8 can be made lighter than I-6, which is bulky by its layout (longer block, I think). When E46 M3's were being raced, the 4 liter v-8 was more compact and lighter than the smaller displacement I-6 it replaced.

    I have not driven the 535, but have driven 335 for a day. I'd say it is VERY comparable to the v-8. I really did not think it was slower than my e39 M5 at all. It pulled hard without detectable turbo lag, whether launching or passing. The only thing I did not like about the power train was the sound, it just did not sound as good as the older I-6 engines.
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Richard, thanks for the comments, loved the "large refrigerator" crack, I'm also a little so-so about the E60 styling (I like the chassis, though), and it seems a shame that one has to "tolerate" iDrive (no flaming from E60 owners, please, I have yet to read a review that says that it's an advance.) And I totally agree that the current E styling is second to none. Interesting thoughts on the air shocks.

    While I'd be tempted to also buy an E500, my E39 has low miles, so I'll probably just hang on for the new body styles in a couple of years (they look good in the spy photos), and maybe by that time they'll have iDrive sorted out.
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    JB, I'd certainly agree that a V engine is more compact than an I-6, and I suppose that specific design parameters (iron block v. aluminum, etc.) probably most effect weight.

    And thanks for the comments on the 335, I haven't driven one, so maybe the twin turbo is the "new V-8". I think I had also heard that exhaust note was note quite up to the typical I-6, but a turbo can do that.

    Has anybody driven a new 535?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ummm, I have to disagree. True a V8 is not as long as an I6 given that typical "V" engines are about 60%-65% as long as an inline engine with the same number of cylinders. Relative to these two engines, my bet is that the V8 would be roughly as long as an I5, meaning that the I6 is about one cylinder longer. That said, the I6 is WAY narrower than a V8, and as such will allow for lots of stuff to be positioned on either side of the mill where there would be no room in a "V" type of installation.

    With the above in mind, I think that saying that a V8 is more compact than an I6 is incorrect, it's simply shorter (and probably heavier).

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Don't forget about those turbos hanging off the side of that I-6. Those make it just as wide as the V8 or wider. Now it's longer and wider. And how would you equate a V8 being as long as an I-5? :confuse: It would only be as long as a 4-banger since there's only 4 cylinders per bank.
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    sdg380,

    I drove a 535xi last Saturday. It was everything I expected in terms of being smoother and quieter than my '06 330xi while still feeling sporty and responsive.

    The 535xi definitely felt more powerful than my current car, despite being heavier. One specific difference is the 535xi felt very responsive in regular Drive mode- I didn't feel the need to shift into Sports Drive mode like I sometimes do now.

    On the highway, as traffic would allow, I twice floored it while doing 70 mph with 3 people in the car. The car seemed to leap, smoothly, to 85 mph in a flash before I let up on the gas pedal.

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    Apparently BMW recently staged a drive for the automotive press with all the current 5 series models. It started in Las vegas and ended up in California.

    I did a quick check on Edmunds and did not see anything on them being part of the event. Does anyone know if Edmunds has a write-up on this?

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    Does anyone know if the 535i and / or 535xi have an oil cooler?

    I seem to remember reading that some of the initial twin turbo 3 series cars did not come with an oil cooler. BMW later made oil coolers standard equipment, and the earlier cars were retrofitted with one.

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Don't forget about those turbos hanging off the side of that I-6. Those make it just as wide as the V8 or wider. Now it's longer and wider. And how would you equate a V8 being as long as an I-5? It would only be as long as a 4-banger since there's only 4 cylinders per bank."

    Nah, turbos aren't nearly that wide. The fact is that a four cam DOHC V8 is a VERY wide motor.

    As for why a quad-cam "V" type engine is typically about one cylinder longer than half of its cylinder count is due to the following two reasons:
    1) The cylinder banks are offset by a little less than half of a cylinder width. If they weren't, the connecting rods would collide and all hell would break loose.
    2) The cam drive for both banks of two cams each is usually rather complicated in and of itself. Add in the whole VANOS thing and the assembly for the cam drive is positively thick indeed.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Bruce, thanks for the comments, I think they're the first I've heard re the 535.

    So the million dollar question, how did you think it stacked up to a V-8? Are you going to effect procurement?
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    sdg380,

    I have no experience with the V-8.

    You may want to Google the comments the automotive press had on the recent 5 series rally sponsored by BMW. I think it was C&D that had a specific comment on the handling of the V-8 versus the 535xi.

    Yes, I bought a 535xi, right after the test drive.

    There were no cars in stock, and none in the salesman's computer search, that had the options I wanted, so I placed an oder. He said it will take 6 weeks for delivery.

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Bruce, congrats on the new ride, I'm sure it will be great!

    So a little work on the 'net, and here's the bottom line from the C&D article (link below, I'm wondering if I'm one of those "ignorant status seekers"!):

    "As torquey as the 550i is, though, it is only marginally quicker than the 535i, and as the road bent deeper into the mountains, we noticed the additional weight in the nose more and more. For all the additional power of the V-8, the overtly sporting nature of the car in six-cylinder guise is spoiled. It feels surprisingly ponderous and much larger than the smaller-engined cars—still a gratifyingly fast and powerful four-door, but no longer a sports sedan.

    The twin-turbo inline-six, quite frankly, renders the 550i obsolete, a tool for ignorant status seekers and those with a vendetta against Mother Earth. If that’s the way you feel, though, save yourself $10,000 and just turn on the pump at a gas station and lay the nozzle on the ground. In addition to the inline-six’s better feel and responses at the limit and better fuel economy, the 535i barely trails the 550i in performance categories that matter on U.S. shores. Maybe on a German autobahn the additional power would come in handy at high speeds, but here, that 10 grand would be better funneled into heated seats and the Sport package."

    http://www.caranddriver.com/previews/13051/first-drive-2008-bmw-5-series.html
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    ...a tool for ignorant status seekers and those with a vendetta against Mother Earth. ...

    That's a bit harsh for them to say. Some of us just like a V8. Sure, the 6 may perform as well as the 8, but the 8 gives much better aural [gratification.]
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    sdg380,

    FYI- the comment on handling of the 535xi compared to the 550i is in the last two sentences in the paragraph following. I did not consider the V-8 because it doesn't come in AWD.

    "Like the large V-8 in the 550i, BMW’s all-wheel-drive system adds more than 200 pounds to the 535i. It also skews the weight balance noseward. Unlike the V-8, the 200 pounds in the 535xi don’t come with an additional 60 horsepower. Although the all-wheel-drive system doesn’t transform a car that was designed as a rear-driver into a big fancy WRX, it also doesn’t impart the same sort of wallowing as the 550i is prone to. With the front tires splitting the work, the 535xi pulls itself out of corners steadily. It’s heavier and a little slower than the rear-drive 535i but not as cumbersome as the V-8 550i."

    I also found some video clips of the rally at another site (auto.com?).

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    of course those who are adventurous can always do something about the power with Vishnu aftermarket kit. Their 335 kit which costs $1365 will give additional 50-60 bhp and 70-80 lb-ft torque and claimed 1-2 mpg improvement. 5-series kit is not there, but since the drive train is more or less the same, I am sure they will have one soon. This makes the TT engine even more compelling. I'd personally go with the 535 and the kit than used E60 M5 which BMW won't even CPO.
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