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BMW 5-Series Wagon 2004 Redesign



  • rghesselrghessel Posts: 122
    That article in Automobile Magazine indicates that the new 5-series won't be in the US until the spring of 2004...which is not what I've read elsewhere (I'd heard anywhere from the Spring to the fall of 2003, but not 2004...
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    You ask a lot of good questions, but since BMW hasn't made any official announcement about the E60, we can only speculate. However, some "probable" details have emerged that have remained consistent with most journalists' reports.

    For one, I'm not sure if the weight will increase much--if at all--on the E60. BMW is said to be investing heavily on greater use of aluminum alloys in the suspension and subframe components to counter the inevitable weight of additional computers and features, safety equipment, etc. Handling should be improved--although honestly it's hard to imagine how much better it could be--as should steering. I read an interesting piece in Roundel last month about the new Active Steering, which sounds like a real boon. I have no clue about the cupholders, armrest, or radio. Rear seatroom will almost definitely increase; reportedly, the wheelbase will be about 2 inches longer. I-Drive is unfortunately an integral part of the dash and electrical systems design, so it will almost certainly NOT be an option, but rumors say it will be a simpler and more intuitive system than the 7's system. Pricing is obviously unanounced, but I'm sure they'll try to keep it competitive. I'd give it a 3-5% increase at most. As for the new design, that's the $64k question. We'll see.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    Estimates vary, but the latest reports say production will begin in Europe in late Spring, and ramping up in volume through the summer and fall as retooling completes and efficiencies maximized. The official introduction might be as early as March, but most likely September in the Frankfurt Auto Show. The past couple of magazines I've seen have predicted US arrival in early 2004. Some might start to trickle in in late 2003, but there's no chance they'll be here this Spring. Where did you see such reports?
  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    Please don't criticize it before you've even used it. I test drove a 730d, and honestly, if there weren't iDrive, I just can't imagine the number of buttons which would pollute the dash.

    iDrive actually makes things easier. All switches on the dash are the most commonly used. iDrive does the rest. Using it is just a matter of habit, and in not even 10 minutes at a dead stop I could program in all my preferences plus a guidance to my destination on the nav system. The only trap which one should not fall in is to manipulate it while driving. Anyway you don't need to.

    Use it and then judge.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    snagiel... I concur. That is pretty much been what Roundel, Bimmer, et al have been reporting. December 2002 issue of Roundel reports that "BMW's breakthrough Active Steering technology will debut in the new E60 5 Series." But says AS will "initially be optional on the mid-range sedans and sport wagons". This same story repeats that the debut will be at Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2003. USA intro in early 2004 would then make sense.

    I keep hoping BMW pulls a "Jag" weight loss diet. Future XJ is reportedly going to be 400 pounds lighter. Can BMW beat its recent history and actually put the 5 Series on a decent diet? Z4 does bode well. BMW kept its weight at about 3,000 pounds (2,932-3,042, depending upon model).

    idletask... I drove a 745i during the Drive for the Cure Tour. iDrive was a mess. Took way to long to do simple things like fiddle with radio. I hated it. Thought most of the controls (e.g., seats) were too complex and not intuitive. But it drove flawlessly. Praying BMW realizes the 5 Series is meant to be a driver's car.
  • This is a difficult debate that I've been contimplating and others I'm sure... the 2003 530i seems so perfect and what worries me more about the E60 5 series then the body or shape is the reliability.. The new 745i's malfunction list is astronomical and everyone I know who has owned one has a laundry list of issues... They say the drive is amazing but buying a car in it's first year of production is a huge risk that I don't think I want to make..

    I don't know, what are your thoughts? Do you think they will discount the current 530i anytime soon?
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    I, too, test drove the 745i during the Drive for the Cure on two consecutive days here in Atlanta, and played with iDrive on both days, spending probably a total of 25-30 minutes on it. (The first day was on a Friday, and there wasn't anyone waiting on the car, so I was able to linger in there.)

    As an IT consultant and software engineer, I consider myself fairly comfortable and adaptable with computer interfaces and systems. iDrive blows. I think it's tied to BMW's obsession with a single input key; The navigation systems on the rest of their models also feature a one-knob input for navigation, text entry and input, and they're unintuitive as well.

    More buttons is not necessarily a bad thing. The ubiquitous keyboards we all use have many, many keys, yet most are able to use them efficiently and without looking. Do you think we could do so if we had only a single rotatry knob? The comparison isn't perfect, but my point is that BMW should have invested effort in simplifying the application itself, not only the in simplifying the dash design. Sure, you can add more and more functions to fewer controls. But doing so requries additional attention paid to a monitor, which is contrary to safe driving.

    Would spending a lot of time with iDrive breed greater familiarity with the system? Probably. But every report about the new Audi A8's "MultiTronic" unit hails it as what iDrive should have been. Its menu navigation is reportedly far better designed, and a central knob--complemented by eight surrounding buttons on the console--are reportedly a much more intuitive and quicker manner in which to input and obtain information.
  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    Radio is logically placed in the menus. Getting to FM sets are just two knob movements away, and this is doable while driving any day, once you have learned the appropriate movements. No need to look at the dash to search buttons, a thing that you do even if you know the buttons by heart (I still do in my 3 series). The learning curve may be a little steep if you want to master all the nooks and crannies, but how many functions do you need daily?

    Maybe it's the fact that I'm a long time Linux user and used to difficulties but I wouldn't call iDrive a mess at all. To me, it was fairly intuitive.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    Well, your comfort with UNIX does explain a few things, but you hit the nail on the head with "how many functions do you really need?"

    If iDrive was reserved only for those "set it and forget it" configurations (e.g. making the seat back warmer proportionally than the seat bottom--yes, you can do this), that would be one thing. But, even though some dash controls don't require going through iDrive, many--as you point out, the radio controls--still do.

    Have you ever used the Lexus or Acura Nav/Stereo systems? Far better than the BMW system. Just because you were finally able to get comfortable with iDrive, doesn't mean it's necessarily a good system.
  • Hey, I'm ready to buy a BMW 530. But wondering if I should wait for the new model or buy the current one now and wait for the new one first year trials. Also if the new one is on its way will they discount the new 530's. Any thoughts? thanks
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    If you're the type who needs the latest and greatest, I'd hold off. But if you'd rather have a refined and still extremely competitive model, you won't be disappointed with the 530i. When the E60 arrives (around next year this time), BMW will try to avoid having excess inventory of E39's, but I would expect to find some good deals once the E60's start arriving by the truckload and the last remaining E39's remain on dealer lots. Be aware, however, that you'd be totally limited in your color and equipment options (manual 5-series are rare on dealer lots), and your choices would shrink rather quickly. Finally, as an editorial, I wouldn't even think about buying the new 5-series during its first year. Just as with the new 7-series, I'm sure there'll be issues in need of refinement.
  • Thanks for the insight. I spent the whole day at the dealership driving the 530i. I decided to buy the 03' 530i. Should arrive in January. Couldn't pass on the 1.9% financing. thanks
  • I have a 2001 540i 6-speed. I've been really psyched about the upcoming V10 500HP M5. Now I read that BMW won't offer a 6-speed stick, but only their manumatic.

    I can't even tell you how disappointed I am. I've never even consider a Mercedes because they don't offer a stick. But if I'm going to look at a "stick-less" M5, I would have to consider the E55 AMG. It's lots less expensive and it rocks pretty good.

    I guess the last great manufacturer of driver's cars is going the way of the dodo.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    First of all, it's all still rumors. Second, there's a big difference between the Mercedes slushboxes and the BMW SMG systems. The latter are not manumatics in the traditional sense (i.e. automatic transmissions that allow manually selecting gears). Rather, SMG is an honest manual transmission (no torque converter) which has a hydraulically, automatically engaging clutch. It allows far more control than most manumatics, which typically go into "auto" mode when you approach redline or when you suddenly floor it. SMG, furthermore, is arguably better than even real manuals since it allows you to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, it can shift faster than virtually anyone, and it will extend the clutch life for most drivers.

    The system's only real disadvantages are that: 1) the slow acceptance by performance traditionalists who prefer a stick, and 2) the (very small number of) electronic bugs in the shifting logic, but I'm sure they'll be resolved by the third generation that will appear in the next M5.

    Hey, there's a reason F1 cars have these systems as well.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Excellent post on SMG.

  • The following is what I've learned from other sites about the actual "in showroom" date for the 2004 5 series. The car will be shown at a March 2003 autoshow, with release in Europe shortly thereafter. US dealers will officially be shown the car in October 2003, and orders will be allowed at that time. Delivery to US dealers would be expected late November 2003. I've seen nothing about whether some versions (ie 525, 530, 545) will come first or all at once.
  • Any idea as to when BMW will stop taking orders for the '03 model? I am looking for a 530 with a 5-speed and will have to order it if I am to get the exact color, options ect. However, I am still undecided as to hold out for the '04. Would like to see more of the '04 before I decide. What is the '03 expected cutoff date?! Also, will the '04 530i finally get a 6-speed manual trans? 1.9% financing???? Where? That would make my decision a lot easier.
  • rghesselrghessel Posts: 122
    Anyone have any idea if the AWD version of the new 5-series will be available from the outset?
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    I'm not sure about "cutoff dates." Check with your dealer, although I suspect they won't really know yet either. My gut says March or April, but I could be wrong.

    As for a 6-speed, it's possible but not yet heard in the rumor mill. The Z4 3.0 offers a 6-speed, as will a special edition of the 330i to be released this Spring (along with some electronics and hardware upgrades to bump the engine up to 235 hp). However, of all the improvements I could come up with for the next 530, a sixth speed wouldn't be anywhere near the top of the (short) list. The 540 needs it only because it's such a guzzler. It would be nice, sure, but hardly necessary in my opinion.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    Rumors (hey, that's all I have) suggest AWD will be an option, but I'd bet the house it won't be available in the initial E60 debut. Probably in late '04 or '05.
  • Will the 2004 5 series or later models become equipped with All Wheel Drive?
  • Helpful discussion on SMG above for the M5. My dealer thinks there is at least some chance the 545 itself will have an SMG [option?] (i.e. that it won't just be the M5). That would be pretty compelling. Anyone have data/opinion on whether that's likely?
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    No idea, but BMW has announced a limited version of SMG (called SSG, I believe) will be available on the 3-series (perhaps only in Europe) and the Z4 this Spring, so it appears the technology is trickling its way down the product line.

    Also/Separately, I've read that one of BMW's board members (or some other knowledgable source) has said SMG is likely to replace all of its manual trannies in the future. I don't know how true or likely that really is (I hope a stick will always be an option), but it certainly indicates the promise BMW sees in this technology.
  • Does anyone have any idea if the 2004 5 series will have a 525 model? Or how much it will cost compared to the current 5 series?
  • This may be premature, but I am just thinking ahead...
    I am planning on buying my first BMW and I am going to wait for the 545i (E60).
    Does anyone have any suggestions as to the options:
    3.0 I6 vs. 3.5l V8 vs. 4.4l V8 engine?
    AWD vs. RWD?
    iDrive or no iDrive? Would it help to check out a current 745 even though the iDrive is supposed to be simplified in the E60?

  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    If women plan their weddings when they're nine years old, certainly we can fantasize about a car we'll be buying in a year.

    That said, though, it's not yet known which engine choices will be available. The V8 from the 745i is almost a certainty, as is one or two of the 6-cylinders. IDrive will most likely be a non-deletable feature, but as you say rumors indicate it will be simplified over the 7-series' version. AWD may be an option, but almost certainly not from the outset.
  • Thanks, snagiel
    In general, how would one choose the engine type (V8 V6 turbo)? Not being too savvy with cars, what would make me select one vs. the other? I prefer a car that jumps off the starting line (good acceleration). Would one engine be better?
    Also, I am waiting this long, is it worth the wait for AWD to come out? (I live in Chicago)
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    If you're asking which engine provides the highest output, currently it's the M5 V8, followed by the 540 V8, then the 530 6, and finally the 525 6. But that's probably obvious. As for future engines, there's nothing announced yet. If the turbo 6 becomes a reality with the rumored 380hp, it may very well be faster than the 745's V8.

    There are other potential considerations, such as fuel economy, reliability, weight balance, etc. Most of these, in turn, favor the inline-6's. (The general consensus is that the 6's are slightly more reliable and cheaper to maintain over the long term than the V8's, but I don't have any data to back this up.)

    I think a RWD 5-series can perform in all but the worst conditions when equipped with proper snow/winter tires. AWD would aid traction and stability over slippery surfaces even more, although it wouldn't obviate the need for winter tires. Whether you should wait for AWD is up to you (it's not known when or even IF it will be offered), but as general advice I'd suggest against buying the E60 in its first year. A casual glance at the 7-series board lists frequent first-year teething problems associated with the car's complicated electronics. Just my thoughts.
  • Thanks, again.
    I am obviously upset about waiting a year or so as it is... I don't know if I can wait any more than that!
    Maybe the early problems with the 745 design will help BMW debug the E60 prior to launch!
  • I as well am waiting for new 5series to come out and hoping the 7series clears up some issues. Also it looks like the new RR Phantom has a newer version of the idrive computer which may be the system going into the 5series. Recent message on Autospies says that the new 5er will be out this summer

    Im hoping car start selling this summer in US so I can wait a few months too see what kind of response it gets before I purchase.
This discussion has been closed.