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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 08-24-2010, 09:12 PM
jimefam jimefam is offline
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Track test of F10 535 by inside line

Inside Line tests hundreds of vehicles a year, but not every vehicle gets a full write-up. The numbers still tell a story, though, so we present "IL Track Tested." It's a quick rundown of all the data we collected at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

The 2011 BMW 535i is the most radically different 5 Series for this, the sixth generation (F10 for the BMW geeks) of the venerable not-too-big/not-too-small midsize BMW sedan with a new engine, new suspension and a new eight-speed automatic.

Output from the 3.0-liter I-6 remains static at 300 horsepower, but the methodology is different. Instead of using the N54 twin-turbo inline-6, the new 2011 535i uses the new N55 single twin-scroll turbocharger, a variation on the I-6 we first saw on the 2010 BMW 535i GT. The 535i automatic also makes use of the ZF-built eight-speed automatic that also debuted on the 535i GT. The new trans promises increased fuel economy while maintaining crisp shifts and sporty performance. We know, we know, BMWs should be manuals, but let's get with the times for a minute; the 5 Series makes up more than 50 percent of BMW's global sales, and manual transmission take rates are lower than public school students not diagnosed with ADHD. A six-speed manual is still available for 2011, but the eight-speed is more interesting.

Apart from a single turbo, two more gearsets and a double-wishbone front suspension replacing the old struts, the 2011 5 Series is the first of the 5ers to come with electronic power steering (EPS). Our tester also comes equipped with the Dynamic Handling package ($2,500) and the Sport package ($2,200). Included are driver-adjustable dampers, active roll stabilization and a driving dynamics control that allows the selection of one of four different modes from Comfort to Sport +. Different selections vary the level of throttle response, transmission shift attitude, power-steering assistance and traction control. We also had the Sport automatic transmission option ($500) which added a three-spoke wheel with proper left-down, right-up paddles.

So, the 2011 BMW 535i has an automatic transmission, electric power steering and an electronic LSD. But is it still any good on our track?



Vehicle: 2011 BMW 535i
Odometer: 1,396
Date: 8/24/10
Driver: Chris Walton
Base Price (with destination and tax): $49,600
Options: Dynamic Handling Package ($2,700); Sport Package ($2,200); Dakota Leather ($1,450); Side and Top View Cameras ($800); Park Distance Control ($750); Dark Graphite Metallic ($550); Sport Automatic Transmission ($500); Rearview Camera ($400); iPod and USB Adapter ($400).
As-Tested Price: $60,225

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,979/181.8
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 300 @ 5,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 300 @ 1,200-5,000
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated disc
Steering System: Electric-assist rack-and-pinion
Suspension Type (front): Multilink
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink

Tire Size (front): 245/40R19 94Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/35R19 96Y
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Excellence
Tire Type: Asymmetrical all-season
Wheel Size: 19-by-8 inches front and rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,080

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.3
0 - 45 (sec): 3.9
0 - 60 (sec): 5.9
0 - 75 (sec): 8.6
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.30 @ 95.06
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.6
30 - 0 (ft): 28
60 - 0 (ft): 110
Slalom (mph): 64.9 stability off, 62.0 on
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.84 stability off, 0.84 trac on
Db @ Idle: 42.3
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 67.0

Acceleration Comments: Wide range of settings means wide range of results, from normal drive to sport/DSC off. At worst, it stumbles off the line, then gets with the program at @ 3,000 rpm. At best with brake torque and DSC off, it's still not what I'd call "snappy" off the line but at least the boost is in the right place for a decent run. Very smooth upshifts in every mode, but it seemed to delay 1-2 (possibly 3-4) in Sport mode. Crossed the finish in 4th gear.

Braking Comments: Highly susceptible to pavement irregularities, hence 10-foot variance in otherwise fade-free set of runs. Some smoking front pads, but no discernible loss of power. Obvious anti-dive suspension and lots of rebound damping. Firm pedal and straight stops throughout.

Handling Comments: Slalom: With DSC off in Sport, the tires were the limiting factor. Good balance between understeer/oversteer and good steering response but not enough ultimate grip to make it all work. In Sport + DSC on, the brakes would grab abruptly just as I approached a cone (expecting a little slide), so I had to back down the speed to keep from being pulled into cones by DSC. Skid pad: hard to balance/steer on the line with boost varying wildly -- requires constant steering with DSC off. With DSC on (Sport +) it requires virtually no steering, and throttle was more consistent (obviously being managed by computer), steering weight was appropriate, but almost no feel.

Source - http://blogs.insideline.com/straight...automatic.html

Test numbers were ok but not incredibly impressive.
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2010, 09:26 PM
solstice solstice is offline
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"steering weight was appropriate, but almost no feel."
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:43 PM
m4hk33 m4hk33 is offline
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its a 535, whats expected?
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Old 08-24-2010, 10:42 PM
solstice solstice is offline
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Originally Posted by m4hk33 View Post
its a 535, whats expected?
What's expected? steering worthy of the bmw name for starters.
Army of steering lovers you better had over to insideline, the commenters (fringe buyers?) are ripping at your precious.
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Old 08-24-2010, 10:43 PM
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enigma enigma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
"steering weight was appropriate, but almost no feel."
That and "hard to balance/steer on the line with boost varying wildly".

Of course, Inside Line is either biased (i.e. BMW didn't give them enough ad $) or idiots. Maybe not...
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Old 08-25-2010, 05:28 AM
Newmanium Newmanium is offline
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Has there been ANY mag test that has considered the steering feel to be decent, on par with E60?

And doesn't look like they had IAS, interesting.
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Old 08-25-2010, 05:51 AM
tadtaggert tadtaggert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
What's expected? steering worthy of the bmw name for starters.
Army of steering lovers you better had over to insideline, the commenters (fringe buyers?) are ripping at your precious.
So how does this:

Quote:
Good balance between understeer/oversteer and good steering response but not enough ultimate grip to make it all work.
fit into your thinking? What's the intent of both a slalom and skid pad test? How does DSC impact the results and the comments you quoted?
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Old 08-25-2010, 06:34 AM
jimefam jimefam is offline
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Again the issue is not that the steering is imprecise it does as its told. NOBODY is saying that, the issue is the feeling is artificial and doesn't communicate what the tires are doing. Unless you have driven a sporty car to the limit you may not know what we are referring to. I find it hard to believe there is even a debate about this as I would say that 90%(if not more) of the tester have had the same opinion and while you may say that these journalist know nothing i'm pretty sure that they have far more experience pushing a cars limits than most of the people posting on this forum(myself included). Is it a big deal well it depends on what your experience is with good handling cars, if it is limited or nonexistent then you'll be satisfied if however you enjoy the connection you get from a mechanical steering you will miss it big time. To summarize the car is a capable machine but it doesn't feel as sure footed as you'd expect from a company known for "the ultimate driving machine".

Last edited by jimefam; 08-25-2010 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 06:50 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimefam View Post
Again the issue is not that the steering is imprecise it does as its told. NOBODY is saying that, the issue is the feeling is artificial and doesn't communicate what the tires are doing. Unless you have driven a sporty car to the limit you may not know what we are referring to. I find it hard to believe there is even a debate about this as I would say that 90%(if not more) have had the same opinion and while you may say that these journalist know nothing i'm pretty sure that they have for more experience pushing a cars limits than most of the people posting on this forum(myself included). Is it a big deal well it depends on what your experience is with good handling cars, if it is limited or nonexistent then you'll be satisfied if however you enjoy the connection you get from a mechanical steering you will miss it big time. To summarize the car is a capable machine but it doesn't feel as sure footed as you'd expect from a company known for "the ultimate driving machine".
Exactly, we all agree that the steering is responsive but it's also numb and with little center feel.

Last edited by solstice; 08-25-2010 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:30 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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I'll aso add that you do not need to push the car to the limit to notice the lack of feel. It's obvious at more or less any speed. You need the feel more at the limits but an enthusiast wants it all the time. Also limits does not always mean driving with you hair on fire, limits are part of any drivers reality and can be reached by things like rain, leaves, oil spill, snow, ice, gravel, wildlife etc, etc.

Last edited by solstice; 08-25-2010 at 07:31 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:05 AM
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I updated your thread with the article text

Tim
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:21 AM
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TJPark01 TJPark01 is offline
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Throw some Michelin PS2's on this car. It's gonna make a big difference on the skidpad and road feel. The Good Years are too soft for the BF crowd.
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:15 AM
richschneid richschneid is offline
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Originally Posted by TJPark01 View Post
Throw some Michelin PS2's on this car. It's gonna make a big difference on the skidpad and road feel. The Good Years are too soft for the BF crowd.
The Goodyears are grand touring class tires and the ones on this test vehicle were grand touring ALL SEASONS. These are not performance tires. I agree that PS2s would make a big difference. Potenzas would also make a big difference. The other two things that also might make a diffenence is the addition of Integral Acitive Steering for the rear drive version of the car, and for the xDrive version the fact that this AWD car doesn't have electric steering. So far we have not seen testing of cars thus equipped. I think enthusiasts might like the IAS a lot more than the standard steering, especially at the limits.

These variations might have been made available by BMW to satisfy some of what is missing in the standard steering. You just have to purchase it. But for the average buyer the grand touring tires may be what they want. I tried to substitute performance tires on my order of the 550i xDrive, but was told that wasn't possible. So, if I don't like them I'm going to spring for the 2 grand and change them.
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:30 AM
tadtaggert tadtaggert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJPark01 View Post
Throw some Michelin PS2's on this car. It's gonna make a big difference on the skidpad and road feel. The Good Years are too soft for the BF crowd.
Yep, when tires are the limiting factor in the slalom that's what I'd expect also, but still it's a fair test (and numbers) as those are the OEM tires.

As for the other comments, I can repeat what I've said before. To me, feel and feedback are two different things, quite different. I'll not (and have not) argue that the feel is different, it is, to some dramatically so. It's not what you'd expect if you've been driving BMW 3's and 5's for a while. It's different.

As for feedback, it's different also, but I will argue that it is not deficient. What gets me is those that don't like something and infer that it is broken in some way. Not saying that can't be the case in some things, just not here.

The steering is still mechanical, it is an electric power assist instead of a hydraulic system now, and that's part of the difference both to the feel and the feedback. There's the front suspension, different, the wheels are less off camber when pushed, less noise and vibration to the feedback, again a difference to the feel and feedback.

If you don't like it, that's fine. If you haven't driven it, you might be pleasantly surprised what you find, I won't promise you'll like it, but the feedback is there. Good/knowledgeable drivers can adapt to feel, so long as the feedback is there. Some just don't want to move on to something new, and that's fine too.
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:53 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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"Good/knowledgeable drivers can adapt to feel, so long as the feedback is there. Some just don't want to move on to something new, and that's fine too."

I'm fine with moving onto something new if it's better. This is clearly not the case here.
Also humans are amazing at adapting to crap, the Stockholms syndrom being proof of how extreme that ability really is. It doesn't mean the downgrade never happened or that it should be accepted.
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:03 AM
richschneid richschneid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
"Good/knowledgeable drivers can adapt to feel, so long as the feedback is there. Some just don't want to move on to something new, and that's fine too."

I'm fine with moving onto something new if it's better. This is clearly not the case here.
Also humans are amazing at adapting to crap, the Stockholms syndrom being proof of how extreme that ability really is. It doesn't mean the downgrade never happened or that it should be accepted.
Have you actually ever driven an F10 with IAS, or an xDrive version, or one with performance tires? The X6 test I read with IAS was very positive about its performance on a road course. Does anyone have an actual test report on an F10 with IAS, especially one in which the car is equipped with actual performance tires. This debate is tiresome without such information.

Just to be clear that I don't always agree with BMW, I see no reason why BMW cannot offer max performance tires such as PS2s or Potenzas as a reasonably priced option on the F10 with sport package. The Goodyears they would replace are pretty expensive themselves so it shouldn't cost BMW that much to change them to performance tires. The Goodyears are actually labeled on the tire as "Made in Germany", so maybe there is some sort of contractural exclusive arrangement with Goodyear. It seems probable that these tires were developed by Goodyear specifically at BMWs request for the current 7 series and the F10. In order for Goodyear to recoup their development costs they may have insisteded upon exclusivity for a certain number of years. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

PS. I just got off the phone with the Tirerack and the rep said the exclusive contract is most likely to be in place.
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Last edited by richschneid; 08-25-2010 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:07 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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For us that do not have IAS or X-drive and do not feel that you should need to swap brand new performance tires to get a good steering feel this discussion is very valid, sorry if it makes you tired. I also highly suspects that better tires will just make you loose even more of the feedback and feel those tires are capable of.
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:24 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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tadtaggert, I know that our opinions and steering preferences differs wildly and that you choosen to ignore my comments but you do seem to be fairly clued up on the architectural part of the F10s electrical steering. If you read this comment I'd like to ask you if you see a possibility to swap the electric steering with the X-drives hydraulic steering and what kind of effort that would involve? If possible and performed by bmw would youthink it would have a chance to keep warranty and avoid a new type acceptance by the DOT?
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:36 AM
tadtaggert tadtaggert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
tadtaggert, I know that our opinions and steering preferences differs wildly and that you choosen to ignore my comments but you do seem to be fairly clued up on the architectural part of the F10s electrical steering. If you read this comment I'd like to ask you if you see a possibility to swap the electric steering with the X-drives hydraulic steering and what kind of effort that would involve? If possible and performed by bmw would youthink it would have a chance to keep warranty and avoid a new type acceptance by the DOT?
Ignore your comments? I have learned that we all can rest assured that whatever comments we make you will ignore and then tell us how we should think, and that is the basis for my fringe comment, however appropriate/inappropriate it may have been.

I have no idea if BMW would make the switch, I would guess not and would guess that it would certainly void any warranty.

I guess I really have only one question, why did you buy the car if you hate it so much?
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:40 AM
richschneid richschneid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
For us that do not have IAS or X-drive and do not feel that you should need to swap brand new performance tires to get a good steering feel this discussion is very valid, sorry if it makes you tired. I also highly suspects that better tires will just make you loose even more of the feedback and feel those tires are capable of.
If you don't have IAS and want better feel then you should buy it if you actually first test it out on your own. Maybe this discussion will cause people who want better steering to buy it instead of just complaining that BMW doesn't offer the steering feel they want. Maybe BMW DOES offer the steering feel you want, you just have to buy it. Why should someone who doesn't care about steering feel or feedback have to pay for something they don't want or need. The IAS may be designed specifically for buyers such as yourself. And since you have never tried it or read about it, you have no way of knowing one way or the other. You also have the option of getting different steering with the xDrive.

If you didn't consider or buy the IAS you have only yourself to blame, not BMW. It's only around $1750 list. If you think that is too much money then you might consider buying a less expensive make. BMWs are EXPENSIVE! And so are Michelin PS2s. If you want something better you have to pay for it and stop asking BMW to provide it for free. Good Grief.

BTW, I didn't say this discussion made me "tired". I said the discussion was "tiresome". Maybe that means full of "tires".
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Last edited by richschneid; 08-25-2010 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:49 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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"I guess I really have only one question, why did you buy the car if you hate it so much? "

I never said I hated the car, what I actually said is that I think it's overall a better car than my E60 and I wrote a post outlining some of the best features.
I really don't like the steering, the steering wheel and the lack of lateral support from the seats though. I thought that the lack of some things in my short test drive in a non ZSP, non DHP equipped car was going to be addressed with those packages added. There were a lot of new impressions to take in, in a very short period of time. Maybe I was not careful enough and put to much trust in bmw to deliver a car to my tastes, trust that they have rightfully earned during a long period of time. Looking in the rear view mirror I wish I waited some and checked out how the X-drive steering performs. There it is, not very revolutionary or strange is it?

Last edited by solstice; 08-25-2010 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:54 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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"Why should someone who doesn't care about steering feel or feedback have to pay for something they don't want or need."
Since it's not a luxuary item and the price of a bmw, any bmw should include good steering feedback and feel as standard. To have to pay for extra artificial stuff to get back to what is natural is frankly redicolous. Sorry.
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Old 08-25-2010, 11:02 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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"I have learned that we all can rest assured that whatever comments we make you will ignore and then tell us how we should think"
Heh, you got that one backwards my friend.
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Old 08-25-2010, 11:07 AM
tadtaggert tadtaggert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
"Since it's not a luxuary item and the price of a bmw, any bmw should include good steering feedback and feel as standard. To have to pay for extra artificial stuff to get back to what is natural is frankly redicolous. Sorry.
!
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Old 08-25-2010, 11:49 AM
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BMW is not the only maker that runs into some issues with electric steering. The current Acura cars have also received criticism for that. Electric steering saves some fuel, it doesn't make sense to lose one of the best features of the brand in order to improve 0.5 mpg.
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