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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
The new chapter in the highly successful story of the BMW 5 Series Sedan (F10) and wagon (F11)

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  #1  
Old 06-02-2010, 09:36 AM
cvb cvb is offline
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Test Driven: 2011 550i and 535i

I wanted to share my experience this past weekend test driving the new 2011 550i and 535i.

By way of background, my current daily driver is a 2008 535xi that I picked up new via European Delivery. It has a mild boost (Juicebox Stage 1), bringing horsepower and torque up a noticeable bit (10% or so) from the factory, but mild enough to not worry about long term reliability.

I'm pretty familiar with recent BMWs having owned a 2003 M3 (6 speed), 2004 X5, and spent a good amount of time in company owned 7 series cars (2001 740il and 2002 745i). I'm a long time BMWCCA member and attend 3-4 track days a year usually driving in "B" class.

Let me first talk about my '08 535xi. Definitely the best all around sports sedan I've ever owned. I can't compare it to the M3 (apples to oranges), but it's a pleasure to drive every day. Plusses: Great power, the best seats I've ever had in a car, and AMAZING grip (great for pulling away under heavy throttle on rain soaked Seattle streets), solid build quality and good reliability. Minuses: really just a few nits: The iDrive interface is getting long in the tooth, and while I think the cabin is beautifully built, I miss the dash being angled at the driver like BMWs of old). In terms of the "Bangle" design, I actually like it. While it is controversial, I think it stands out in a crowd of blandness. The LED accents on the head and tail lights look great at night too.

So on to the road test of the new F10s.

On Saturday, I drove a 550i (right after sitting in a new 750li). Pretty much fully loaded (Black/Black). Initial impressions: Wow!: This is a 9/10th scale 750i…...while I think the new 7's look ungainly, the F10 is better proportioned (especially the front grille). Beautiful interior, same amazing seats as in my 535xi. Love the huge nav screen and the inside is more "cockpit" like than my E60. Materials also seem higher quality. The iDrive is totally redesigned and much improved. This car had the HUD option which is great as the top of the steering wheels tends to cut off my view of the speedometer.

Start engine: Quiet. Very stealthy. Moving out onto the roads and highways, I drive a combination with the 8 speed automatic in "D" mode as well as in Sport mode with the paddle shifters. I also had the adjustable suspension in "Sport" Mode most of the time (I did go into Sport + which lowered the DSC enough to see how the car drove with a little sideways slide). The paddle shifters work great and make me wish these had been an option on my E60 (they weren't an option on XDrive models in 2008).

This car is FAST, but in a totally no drama way. The engine is very subdued and before you know it, you are at 90+ MPH. If I didn't have the HUD, I would have thought I was driving 55. This car is an autobahn monster!

My other observation was how "big" the car felt. It drove "big"…...way more like a 7 series than a 5. It felt like a lot more car to throw around corners and even in Sport suspension mode, there seemed to be a lot of body roll. Also, my least favorite thing about the car was the steering. It was really light. I'm not sure if this is adjustable (changing the suspension settings didn't seem to effect it)…..it was very un-BMW like…...much more like a Lexus (blasphemy, I know).

My overall evaluation is that this is one beautiful and powerful car. It offered a powerful but rather isolated driving experience. The car is fast, but in such an effortless way as to almost not be fun (I want to hear that v8!).

2 days later I returned to drive the 535i. This was new off the truck and was very minimally optioned. Black/Tan color combo with standard seats, no paddle shifters, and standard suspension.

The lighter interior made the car feel a lot smaller inside (much closer to the E60) and somewhat less "rich" than the 550i. This was a very different beast to drive than the 550i. On the positive side, the car felt noticeably lighter and more tossable, even though it had the standard suspension (makes me think a 535i with adaptive drive sport suspension will be about perfect) and the steering, while still light for my tastes and lighter than in my E60, was better weighted than the 550i. On the other hand, the new N55 turbo engine was a big disappointment. Maybe I've just had my N54 'chipped for so long I can't remember what it felt like when it was stock, but this motor was definitely a beat or two less powerful than my E60. I know BMW says 0-60 times are identical, but most people think they sandbagged the N54 (really more than 300HP), but all I can say is it didn't make the car feel special whereas my current car has enough power to always put a smile on my face. I'm curious if other N54 drivers in 335i and 535i have this same reaction when driving the new N55 motors? This N55-based 535i left me cold. My thought was "suburban grocery getter" ala Honda Accord. I know, more blasphemy. Sorry.

So, I left the dealership feeling really conflicted as to what my next car should be when my lease is up this Fall. The 550i is gorgeous, but I want more engagement and involvement when I drive...it's too 7-like. The 535i felt much better, but needed another 50Hp and 50 pound feet of torque.

My hope is that the tuners figure out how to extract more power from the N55, but I'm not sure we'll get the same sort of cheap chip thrills the highly tunable N54 gave us.

As always, this is just my opinion after spending a relatively short time with each of these cars. There's a lot to like about them, but enough issues to make me think about not getting a 5 series or just keeping my E60 until the F10s have their mid life refresh in a few years with the usual accompanying power boost.
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Last edited by cvb; 06-02-2010 at 01:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2010, 10:12 AM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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"Beautiful interior, same amazing seats as in my 535xi. Love the huge nav screen and the inside is more "cockpit" like than my E60. Materials also seem higher quality. The iDrive is totally redesigned and much improved. This car had the HUD option which is great as the top of the steering wheels tends to cut off my view of the speedometer."

Great, thoughtful review - thanks much.

I'm curious about a few points.

I understand your current vehicle is an '08 E60. Are the new nav screen and the iDrive the same as in the '10 E60? I also see that the seats are "the same" as in your E60 (albeit with higher quality materials?). Your tepid review of the 535i certainly gives me pause - what about it is really an upgrade (as distinct from just being different) with respect to the '10 535i? If the car really needs 50 more hp, what will the forthcoming F10 w/ X-drive be like?
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  #3  
Old 06-02-2010, 10:25 AM
Munich77 Munich77 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpzeller View Post
"Beautiful interior, same amazing seats as in my 535xi. Love the huge nav screen and the inside is more "cockpit" like than my E60. Materials also seem higher quality. The iDrive is totally redesigned and much improved. This car had the HUD option which is great as the top of the steering wheels tends to cut off my view of the speedometer."

Great, thoughtful review - thanks much.

I'm curious about a few points.

I understand your current vehicle is an '08 E60. Are the new nav screen and the iDrive the same as in the '10 E60? I also see that the seats are "the same" as in your E60 (albeit with higher quality materials?). Your tepid review of the 535i certainly gives me pause - what about it is really an upgrade (as distinct from just being different) with respect to the '10 535i? If the car really needs 50 more hp, what will the forthcoming F10 w/ X-drive be like?
The 2010 E60 have a different version of the I-drive and a better screen than the 2008 E60s.
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  #4  
Old 06-02-2010, 10:31 AM
cvb cvb is offline
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Nice car you have there

I haven't seen the interface on the 2010 E60s. I can say that the new F10 nav controls and interface are the same as the 2010 335i...but the screen on the F10s is bigger than that on my E60. Same as the new 7 I believe and not as recesssed into the dash.

Your question about what is really an "upgrade" on the F10 vs. just being "different" is a good one. The E60 is the best sedan I've owned, bar none. When I said the F10 materials are higher quality, I meant things like the plastics and trim pieces seemed higher quality (both aesthetically and to the touch)...not that the E60 is bad at all...F10 was just a bit nicer. The seat leather is the same (great on both cars).

If my E60 weren't a lease, I'd be happy keeping it until (and if) the F10 535's are able to make more power (either from tuners or from the factory). Don't think a 550i feels right to me.
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2010, 10:57 AM
pharding pharding is offline
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I have driven both the F10 535 and 550. The 535 feels like a robust engine. I do not believe it to be underpowered at all. For the money, $57k, well equipped, I believe that the 535 is an incredible value.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2010, 11:15 AM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munich77 View Post
The 2010 E60 have a different version of the I-drive and a better screen than the 2008 E60s.
I probably wasnt' clear - I was curious whether the F10 nav and iDrive are the same as in the 2010 E60; they look the same to me.
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  #7  
Old 06-02-2010, 11:17 AM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvb View Post
Nice car you have there

I haven't seen the interface on the 2010 E60s. I can say that the new F10 nav controls and interface are the same as the 2010 335i...but the screen on the F10s is bigger than that on my E60. Same as the new 7 I believe and not as recesssed into the dash.

Your question about what is really an "upgrade" on the F10 vs. just being "different" is a good one. The E60 is the best sedan I've owned, bar none. When I said the F10 materials are higher quality, I meant things like the plastics and trim pieces seemed higher quality (both aesthetically and to the touch)...not that the E60 is bad at all...F10 was just a bit nicer. The seat leather is the same (great on both cars).

If my E60 weren't a lease, I'd be happy keeping it until (and if) the F10 535's are able to make more power (either from tuners or from the factory). Don't think a 550i feels right to me.
I agree with you - my E60 is the best car I've ever driven, and I wouldn't want to toy with seller's/buyer's remorse by trading for something I wouldn't like as much.

I've seen and sat in the F10 (at the Welt - just looking, not taking delivery of anything) and frankly was underwhelmed. Am driving one tomorrow at a BMW event, though, so will have a chance to be impressed, or not.

Thanks again.
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  #8  
Old 06-02-2010, 11:47 AM
cvb cvb is offline
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Please post your thoughts after your drive tomorrow. Will be nice to compare notes since we have the almost same car now.
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2010, 01:32 PM
BMW-GT BMW-GT is offline
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cvb

I think I drove the exact same cars as you at my local dealership. I believe you are right on with the evaluation of the standard 535i. As I was driving it, I thought the same "This is as much pleasure as a Honda Accord" so why would I pay this much more. Well, OK, is feels very solid and well built but the power just wasn't there for me.

As for the 550i, I also agree it can be a more sedate drive in the comfort mode. Either in the sport or comfort mode, I did feel this sense of refined power but I really loved the ride. the extra feeling of torque was great. In both modes I do wish I heard the roar of the engine more. BTW, I did wind up ordering a 550i
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  #10  
Old 06-03-2010, 02:44 AM
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Wingboot Wingboot is offline
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Maybe, if it is available, a F10 535d might be just what your looking for in terms of balance and power (in the form of torque).

I wonder if NA will see a F10 535d with M-Sport and if so, about how much would it cost?
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  #11  
Old 06-03-2010, 04:45 AM
sk1216 sk1216 is offline
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cvb

I was wondering if the 550i you drove had the integral steering option and if this contributed to the 'lightness" of the steering you described?
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  #12  
Old 06-03-2010, 07:14 AM
cvb cvb is offline
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That's what I thought, but I checked the window sticker and it didn't have that option listed.
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  #13  
Old 06-03-2010, 07:39 AM
soledoc soledoc is offline
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Do you think the 535 would be any better with a stick? I'm thinking about that car to replace my 328i sedan 6MT with sport suspension. Do you think I'll be happy with a 535i in a stick without sport, integrative steering or the upgraded suspension? Is a "base" 535i going to be that bad of a car compared to my current 3 series? I can't imagine so.
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  #14  
Old 06-03-2010, 05:42 PM
nealh nealh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingboot View Post
Maybe, if it is available, a F10 535d might be just what your looking for in terms of balance and power (in the form of torque).

I wonder if NA will see a F10 535d with M-Sport and if so, about how much would it cost?
I would love to see a diesel for the 5 series. Gas prices are going to be sky-rocketing again(I would bet within 2yrs will be back at $120 barrel).
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  #15  
Old 06-03-2010, 06:15 PM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvb View Post
Please post your thoughts after your drive tomorrow. Will be nice to compare notes since we have the almost same car now.
OK, as long as you've asked, I will.

It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, and Field's BMW in Northfield is just off an expressway. Drove the 535i and 550i, unescorted, for about 20 minutes each. Since I drove my '10 535i (X-drive) sedan to and from the event, it was an excellent comparison.

Echoing other comments, the F10 strikes me as substantially bigger. I have more than ample headroom in my car (I am just over 6' tall), but the F10 allows one to sit even deeper - so deep, in fact, I was a little disoriented reaching for the iDrive control knob and shifter. This, along with some changes in other controls (cruise, etc.) was disconcerting (of course, this is just a matter of getting used to new things). I really don't like the fact that the fan speed can't be controlled by the temperature knob - what were they thinking!

I don't feel cramped in my car, but will admit to enjoying a little more elbow room.

No comment on the back seats. I don't care about the back seats.

Drove the 535i first, and didn't really feel it is underpowered (maybe a little going up a hill). I really can't identify with the Honda Accord comparisons at all (and I own a Honda Accord). On the other hand, the 550i didn't exactly blow my socks off, althouth it is certainly more powerful (and this is the first time I've driven a V8 BMW) - maybe it's all in expectations management.

The iDrive software and nav display are somewhat different from those in my car (and I have the new-gen iDrive and nav), but only in minor ways.

The 550i had an HUD - niiiice (I've never used one before).

Happily for me, I am most definitely not overcome with new car lust, although I have no doubt the F10 will be my next car - someday.
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:17 PM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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One important point:

In leaving with my E60, I didn't at all feel like I'd been downgraded. In fact, for me it has that tight, solid feel we all enjoy so much. The more I think about it, I'm wondering whether enlarging the car isn't a big mistake.
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:39 PM
sderose sderose is offline
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I think many of us feel the same way. I drove the 535i with standard suspension and seats, and I just could not get past how "big" the car felt. Nice car, quiet, well sorted, but big. I enjoyed the drive but it really hit me as I drove away in my e60 just how big the f10 feels. I really enjoy the solid tight feel of the e60 as well. I am too thinking that may have been a mistake enlarging the car this much. Basing it on the 7 has made it feel too much like a 7. I think that it has lost much of the tradtional feeling of the 5 which has largely existed in all of the 5's that I have driven from the e34-e60.
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:47 PM
cvb cvb is offline
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Thanks JP,

Did you feel the 535 in the F10 was just as powerful as the one in your E60? You said it didn't feel "underpowered", but did it seem "less powered" to you as it did to me?




Quote:
Originally Posted by jpzeller View Post
OK, as long as you've asked, I will.

It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, and Field's BMW in Northfield is just off an expressway. Drove the 535i and 550i, unescorted, for about 20 minutes each. Since I drove my '10 535i (X-drive) sedan to and from the event, it was an excellent comparison.

Echoing other comments, the F10 strikes me as substantially bigger. I have more than ample headroom in my car (I am just over 6' tall), but the F10 allows one to sit even deeper - so deep, in fact, I was a little disoriented reaching for the iDrive control knob and shifter. This, along with some changes in other controls (cruise, etc.) was disconcerting (of course, this is just a matter of getting used to new things). I really don't like the fact that the fan speed can't be controlled by the temperature knob - what were they thinking!

I don't feel cramped in my car, but will admit to enjoying a little more elbow room.

No comment on the back seats. I don't care about the back seats.

Drove the 535i first, and didn't really feel it is underpowered (maybe a little going up a hill). I really can't identify with the Honda Accord comparisons at all (and I own a Honda Accord). On the other hand, the 550i didn't exactly blow my socks off, althouth it is certainly more powerful (and this is the first time I've driven a V8 BMW) - maybe it's all in expectations management.

The iDrive software and nav display are somewhat different from those in my car (and I have the new-gen iDrive and nav), but only in minor ways.

The 550i had an HUD - niiiice (I've never used one before).

Happily for me, I am most definitely not overcome with new car lust, although I have no doubt the F10 will be my next car - someday.
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  #19  
Old 06-03-2010, 07:45 PM
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azbimmer azbimmer is offline
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Drove F10 550i Today...

....and loved it.

Compared to my 2008 535i, it feels much bigger, like the 750i, which is next on my list to drive. I loved all the gadgets: the iDrive, large LCD, HUD, better feel on the shifter than my current ride.

All in all, the only car I would compare it against is the 750i. May the best lease win!
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:17 AM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvb View Post
Thanks JP,

Did you feel the 535 in the F10 was just as powerful as the one in your E60? You said it didn't feel "underpowered", but did it seem "less powered" to you as it did to me?
Interesting question, but it is hard for me to tell, given the difference in size and weight. On balance, though, I suppose the new car (535) was marginally less responsive than the older one, even if the new engine is just as powerful as the old one.
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  #21  
Old 06-04-2010, 06:18 AM
jpzeller jpzeller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpzeller View Post
Interesting question, but it is hard for me to tell, given the difference in size and weight. On balance, though, I suppose the new car (535) was marginally less responsive than the older one, even if the new engine is just as powerful as the old one.
I still wouldn't kick the F10 out of the garage, though.
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  #22  
Old 06-22-2010, 10:44 PM
muskamatt muskamatt is offline
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^I wouldn't either. I feel every new generation of BMW's is hesitated upon by previous generation owners until they finally make the decision. I remember (being a previous E46 owner) the E9x's being talked down until all of a sudden there are thousands of new 3 series on the roads. Seems like the same thing happened with the E60 to be honest (IMO!) so although I haven't driven the new 550 I have sat in it and yes it is different however these differences are usually criticized at first but then ultimately accepted.

I don't know how keen I would be on the first year of manufacturing but hey with BMW's warranty it would probably be fine.

Oh and one more thing...

http://www.speedlux.com/2011-bmw-5-s...-up-to-620-hp/

Awesome...
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