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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 08-20-2010, 11:28 PM
solstice solstice is offline
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Electric steering, is there any good one?

Many on this forum and testers in various car magazines etc, have commented on the downgrade in steering feel and feedback from the E60 to the F10. It seems that the electric steering is pointed out as the culprit.

I'm curious if anyone who likes a sporty feel has experience of driving a car where electric steering has given an equal or better feel than a traditional hydraulic power steering? It could give a hint on the likelyhood that bmw will soon be able to tune the F10s steering to better suite the enthusiast.

And please don't bring IAS into this discussion. I'm just interrested in non IAS comments.
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  #2  
Old 08-21-2010, 12:35 AM
akhter akhter is offline
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I thought the F10 steering in Sport mode (no adaptive drive, only 8sp Sport) has a very good feel that is comparable to my e90 with active steering.
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2010, 01:30 AM
pharding pharding is offline
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I have a 2008 550i with the M-Sport package and active steering. The steering is fine. I did BMW European Delivery with my new F10 550i. The steering is a bit sloppy when driving straight for my taste. There is clearly room for improvement.
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  #4  
Old 08-21-2010, 08:07 AM
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I've only driven the F10 on a closed auto-x type course. I knew the steering was electric, but in all honesty as I drove as fast as I could around that course (12 times around it) I never once thought about the electric steering or noticed any difference in the "BMW feel" that I'm used to. My E90 has active steering and I like it. Wasn't sure about it when I bought the car, but then found that I liked it. My previous cars were a '00 E46 328i and an '04 E46 330i ZHP and both definitely had stiffer steering at all speeds, compared to the less stiff steering the active steering gives at low speeds. But, there was an overlap in my owning those two cars while I had the ZHP up for sale, so I got to experience the different steering feel on a regular basis. In fact, I drove the ZHP to the BMW driving event where I drove the F10 and I still didn't notice any un-BMW likeness in the F10's steering on the closed course. Since I have yet to drive a F10 in regular street driving I, obviously, can't comment on what that is like.
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2010, 08:18 AM
richschneid richschneid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
I've only driven the F10 on a closed auto-x type course. I knew the steering was electric, but in all honesty as I drove as fast as I could around that course (12 times around it) I never once thought about the electric steering or noticed any difference in the "BMW feel" that I'm used to. My E90 has active steering and I like it. Wasn't sure about it when I bought the car, but then found that I liked it. My previous cars were a '00 E46 328i and an '04 E46 330i ZHP and both definitely had stiffer steering at all speeds, compared to the less stiff steering the active steering gives at low speeds. But, there was an overlap in my owning those two cars while I had the ZHP up for sale, so I got to experience the different steering feel on a regular basis. In fact, I drove the ZHP to the BMW driving event where I drove the F10 and I still didn't notice any un-BMW likeness in the F10s steering on the closed course. Since I have yet to drive a F10 in regular street driving I, obviously, can't comment on what that is like.
I, too, have the active steering on my 650i. When I drove the F10 on the road I didn't notice much difference either. What I have noticed recently is that the steering on my 3 series loaners is way too heavy and slow even though it may have a little better "feel" and "feedback". But I vastly prefer the active steering on my six. It is just as precise even though it has a lighter feel.
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  #6  
Old 08-21-2010, 08:21 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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Thanks for the responses, I was more looking for impressions outside the F10. I have one so I know the feel. Is the E60 active steering fully electric? Anyone have positive impressions from electric steering on any other brand of car at any price range or type ( race cars, super car, hyper cars included ). Any car with electric steering that has a very good steering feel?
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:25 AM
akhter akhter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richschneid View Post
I, too, have the active steering on my 650i. When I drove the F10 on the road I didn't notice much difference either. What I have noticed recently is that the steering on my 3 series loaners is way too heavy and slow even though it may have a little better "feel" and "feedback". But I vastly prefer the active steering on my six. It is just as precise even though it has a lighter feel.
I had active steering on my 335i and when I got another 3er without active steering, I hated both the effort and more than that the ratio.

When I test drove the F10 in sport mode, I thought that had a very similar feel to 335i with active steering. I did initially start the F10 in normal mode and that was too light and imprecise.
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  #8  
Old 08-21-2010, 08:35 AM
tadtaggert tadtaggert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
Thanks for the responses, I was more looking for impressions outside the F10. I have one so I know the feel. Is the E60 active steering fully electric? Anyone have positive impressions from electric steering on any other brand of car at any price range or type ( race cars, super car, hyper cars included ). Any car with electric steering that has a very good steering feel?
Don't have one, but the NSX had electric steering and favorable impressions.
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  #9  
Old 08-21-2010, 08:46 AM
richschneid richschneid is offline
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Originally Posted by akhter View Post
I had active steering on my 335i and when I got another 3er without active steering, I hated both the effort and more than that the ratio.

When I test drove the F10 in sport mode, I thought that had a very similar feel to 335i with active steering. I did initially start the F10 in normal mode and that was too light and imprecise.
I agree the normal mode is too light. I always drive mine in sport mode except in parking lots and heavy traffic. I think the steering effort in the F10 with DHP and sport transmission is programmable. I hope to be able to program the comfort or normal mode to the heavier steering effort, not just in the sport mode. I would get the IAS, but it's not available with xDrive in the F10.
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  #10  
Old 08-21-2010, 09:28 AM
akhter akhter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richschneid View Post
I agree the normal mode is too light. I always drive mine in sport mode except in parking lots and heavy traffic. I think the steering effort in the F10 with DHP and sport transmission is programmable. I hope to be able to program the comfort or normal mode to the heavier steering effort, not just in the sport mode. I would get the IAS, but it's not available with xDrive in the F10.
I saw the ideal setup on some other thread where they said you can configure the sport mode to be steering only. That way you don't burn so much gas all the time since sport transmission mode is not very fuel efficient. When you want to get sporty transmission as well, you can flip the gear lever on the left for sports mode. Basically you can then always leave the car in sports mode for the better steering and flip the gear lever to sports mode for the full sporty effect. I didn't order DHP or IAS, only ordered the 8sp Sport.
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Last edited by akhter; 08-21-2010 at 09:29 AM.
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  #11  
Old 08-21-2010, 09:40 AM
solstice solstice is offline
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Originally Posted by tadtaggert View Post
Don't have one, but the NSX had electric steering and favorable impressions.
Now that's what I wanted to hear. I haven't had the pleasure to drive a Honda/Acura NSX but what I've heard those are superb and beloved track cars. It means that it's just a matter of tuning and not an inherent problem with electric steering not yet mastered.
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  #12  
Old 08-21-2010, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solstice View Post
Many on this forum and testers in various car magazines etc, have commented on the downgrade in steering feel and feedback from the E60 to the F10. It seems that the electric steering is pointed out as the culprit.

I'm curious if anyone who likes a sporty feel has experience of driving a car where electric steering has given an equal or better feel than a traditional hydraulic power steering? It could give a hint on the likelyhood that bmw will soon be able to tune the F10s steering to better suite the enthusiast.

And please don't bring IAS into this discussion. I'm just interrested in non IAS comments.
My NSX has electric steering (a '99 model) and it is without a doubt the best steering feel I've ever experienced on any car. A week ago I drove the 2011 550i 6 speed manual with sport package and without IAS and that steering felt better to me than the new 2008 M5 6 speed manual I drove about a year ago. I disagree with comments made by car magazine testers that the new BMW 5 series has lost it's precise steering. I don't know what BMWs they are referring to but the 550i I drove had a better steering feel than all the other BMWs I've ever driven. I liked that car so much that I'm finally buying my first BMW ever after considering and test driving many of them over the years.
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  #13  
Old 08-21-2010, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1HOT BMR View Post
My NSX has electric steering (a '99 model) and it is without a doubt the best steering feel I've ever experienced on any car. A week ago I drove the 2011 550i 6 speed manual with sport package and without IAS and that steering felt better to me than the new 2008 M5 6 speed manual I drove about a year ago. I disagree with comments made by car magazine testers that the new BMW 5 series has lost it's precise steering. I don't know what BMWs they are referring to but the 550i I drove had a better steering feel than all the other BMWs I've ever driven. I liked that car so much that I'm finally buying my first BMW ever after considering and test driving many of them over the years.
I honestly think the motoring press has a bias against electric power steering, because it's too "revolutionary" for them, so it gives them something to pick on. As these forums always prove every time a new iteration comes out, people don't like/take time to adjust to change and the press certainly is no different.
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  #14  
Old 08-21-2010, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
I honestly think the motoring press has a bias against electric power steering, because it's too "revolutionary" for them, so it gives them something to pick on. As these forums always prove every time a new iteration comes out, people don't like/take time to adjust to change and the press certainly is no different.
I believe it was in my Car & Driver mags where they first did a quick drive of the 535i and stated the steering was too heavy. Then a follow-up more detailed drive analysis stated the steering was too light. In Motor Trend I recently saw an article comparing M3, Audi S5 and something else. They said the BMW interior, in all black, was "cheap and nasty". It all depends who is doing the reviewing and when, IMO. If and when they decide to focus on something other than BMW, they just start saying negative things -- otherwise all the readers think they are totally biased toward BMW.
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  #15  
Old 08-21-2010, 11:36 AM
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I drove the 118i as a rental in Germany, which has electric power steering. Nothing remarkably different than normal steering, goes to show that it doesn't have to always be bad.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:12 PM
Newmanium Newmanium is offline
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I'm not sure many people reporting that "it's fine" know what good steering is like. Porsche is generally regarded as the best in this arena, BMW has always been good - it's all about excellent feedback.

The new steering still functions well, but the feel is often numbed overall or has wiggle on-center. It's not like the car won't be able to go round a corner. You can drive a numb Lexus around corners fine, it's just a bit more harrowing because you can't feel all the nuances of what the tires are doing.

And nobody is being clear about what the difference in feel is between the IAS system, and the standard electric steering. I drove a car with IAS, and it was definitely numb, whereas perhaps the standard electric offering is better. Difference between my standard 2007 E60 and the F10 550i w/IAS was like night and day through the corners. I'm sure the F10 handles better, but it doesn't feel as enjoyable to me.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Newmanium View Post
And nobody is being clear about what the difference in feel is between the IAS system, and the standard electric steering. I drove a car with IAS, and it was definitely numb, whereas perhaps the standard electric offering is better. Difference between my standard 2007 E60 and the F10 550i w/IAS was like night and day through the corners. I'm sure the F10 handles better, but it doesn't feel as enjoyable to me.
I for one would like to read a report from someone who has driven both the standard and the IAS equipped cars - especially the 550i. I'm considering including the IAS in my order and your comment above gives me pause - now I will have to find an IAS equipped 550 to drive before I order.

Besides my NSX I love the steering feel of the Porsche Cayman S and the Honda S2000. These three cars communicate precisely what your tires are doing when you push the car around a bend. I had the chance to toss the 550 around a few bends and a couple of empty freeway on-ramps and I tell you, that car was communicating with me - I couldn't believe it since it had Good Year run flat tires on it and it weighs so much! I like to believe that I know what good steering feel is and in my opinion the 550i with a 6 speed manual and the sport package has great steering feel - better than any other BMW I've driven.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:49 PM
solstice solstice is offline
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Originally Posted by 1HOT BMR View Post
My NSX has electric steering (a '99 model) and it is without a doubt the best steering feel I've ever experienced on any car. A week ago I drove the 2011 550i 6 speed manual with sport package and without IAS and that steering felt better to me than the new 2008 M5 6 speed manual I drove about a year ago. I disagree with comments made by car magazine testers that the new BMW 5 series has lost it's precise steering. I don't know what BMWs they are referring to but the 550i I drove had a better steering feel than all the other BMWs I've ever driven. I liked that car so much that I'm finally buying my first BMW ever after considering and test driving many of them over the years.
Now I'm depressed again. If the NSX has the same feeling as the F10 it's no good. I agree that it seems like many people don't know what good steering means. I grew up in a place with ice and snow where steering feedback is crucial. You need to feel the grip and before DSC etc, the only thing that made it possible to enjoy a rwd bmw year around was the excellent steering feedback that communicated the grip level in a superior way. I also used to compete in amateur carting and there's nothing like the direct feedback at gocart gives, from there it's just a matter of how much of that feeling you can retain in a car. Anyway the F10s steering is barely acceptable to me and I don't buy a bmw since it's acceptable, there are many cheeper cars that can do that. I buy a bmw since it's a superior driving machine. It's a personal thing and don't write the car off by comments like mine, you never know you might be more of a richschneid than a solstice. Audi must be bathing in champagne, they would have sold their soul to get to bmws steering feel, now they don't have to, at least not with the A6.
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Old 08-21-2010, 01:05 PM
tadtaggert tadtaggert is offline
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Originally Posted by solstice View Post
Now I'm depressed again.
Just go out and drive the various configurations and see for yourself.

Some think that good steering feedback includes all and every action the wheel is taking, some think that good is limited to that feedback that impacts handling, and some are all over the middle areas.

Some think stiffness is a requirement for good steering (it's not, just easier for less skilled drivers), some take the time to learn the feel as it applies to the car and the various situations that your driving presents.

And, if you get an F10 with any 'wobble' or play in the steering wheel at center, then take it back. This is something that I've never found in any f10 that I've driven, and something that I don't think BMW would allow.

Don't mistake numbness for filtered, or vice-versa.

It's impossible to argue 'look' and 'feel' as they are personal and opinion. The F10 'handles' very well, it's really up to you to determine if it's right for you.
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Old 08-21-2010, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Newmanium View Post
I'm not sure many people reporting that "it's fine" know what good steering is like. Porsche is generally regarded as the best in this arena, BMW has always been good - it's all about excellent feedback.
Well, I drove the 118i on everything ranging from the autobahn, B-roads, Alpine passes, to the Gro▀glockner road (hairpin turns made me wish for Active Steering actually).

Mediocre steering would be something like an X5, with not much feedback or feel of the limits of adhesion when cornering hard.

Bad steering would be like my old Lexus or many Toyota products. Honestly one has absolutely no idea about the grip or direction of travel. A keyboard is more tactile in comparison to those.
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Old 08-21-2010, 03:23 PM
richschneid richschneid is offline
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Originally Posted by solstice View Post
Now I'm depressed again. If the NSX has the same feeling as the F10 it's no good. I agree that it seems like many people don't know what good steering means. I grew up in a place with ice and snow where steering feedback is crucial. You need to feel the grip and before DSC etc, the only thing that made it possible to enjoy a rwd bmw year around was the excellent steering feedback that communicated the grip level in a superior way. I also used to compete in amateur carting and there's nothing like the direct feedback at gocart gives, from there it's just a matter of how much of that feeling you can retain in a car. Anyway the F10s steering is barely acceptable to me and I don't buy a bmw since it's acceptable, there are many cheeper cars that can do that. I buy a bmw since it's a superior driving machine. It's a personal thing and don't write the car off by comments like mine, you never know you might be more of a richschneid than a solstice. Audi must be bathing in champagne, they would have sold their soul to get to bmws steering feel, now they don't have to, at least not with the A6.
I can tell you that maybe the problem you are having is that your degree of tactile sensitivity and proprioception is somewhat less than average. This is not personal. Some people just have more sensitivity to touch and position. So, maybe you just need more input than some other people to feel what the tires are doing in difficult circumstances.

I happen to have very sensitive hands to feel and touch. This is what is necessary to be able to do cardiac catheterization. This is in no way meant to be a critcism of you, but it might explain why you and I have such a different opinion about the proper steering for a BMW. I, too, grew up driving in snow with rear wheel drive and without traction control. I still, obviously, have to drive in snow all the time here in Pittsburgh. I think percision is more important than feel because I have no trouble with the feel of the steering on the newer BMWs. But I certainly understand that other people might want or need something with more feel.
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Last edited by richschneid; 08-21-2010 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 08-21-2010, 03:52 PM
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What a great discussion ......... having had a catheter process (not heart - and not under anesthesia) performed on me and being an owner of an S2000 along with a 2002 330i, 2009 328i, just traded my 2008 535i for the 2011 535i (ED another story) this thread is resonating.

I remember my dad's ultimate judgement of a car was that the steering would either "wander" or track straight down the highway.

Of all my current cars my daughter's 2002 330i today has the best (most preferred by me) steering feel!

I think to decide on the current technology, whoever has said "it is personal" and "drive the choices" has said it best.
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Old 08-21-2010, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by richschneid View Post
I can tell you that maybe the problem you are having is that your degree of tactile sensitivity and proprioception is somewhat less than average. This is not personal. Some people just have more sensitivity to touch and position. So, maybe you just need more input than some other people to feel what the tires are doing in difficult circumstances.

I happen to have very sensitive hands to feel and touch. This is what is necessary to be able to do cardiac catheterization. This is in no way meant to be a critcism of you, but it might explain why you and I have such a different opinion about the proper steering for a BMW. I, too, grew up driving in snow with rear wheel drive and without traction control. I still, obviously, have to drive in snow all the time here in Pittsburgh. I think percision is more important than feel because I have no trouble with the feel of the steering on the newer BMWs. But I certainly understand that other people might want or need something with more feel.
"So, maybe you just need more input than some other people to feel what the tires are doing in difficult circumstances."

Nope that's not it, my hands are just fine and that's why I can easily feel the difference
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Old 08-21-2010, 04:36 PM
solstice solstice is offline
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It's more of a preference, you obviously prefer less feedback while I prefer more.
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Old 08-21-2010, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
Well, I drove the 118i on everything ranging from the autobahn, B-roads, Alpine passes, to the Gro▀glockner road (hairpin turns made me wish for Active Steering actually).

Mediocre steering would be something like an X5, with not much feedback or feel of the limits of adhesion when cornering hard.

Bad steering would be like my old Lexus or many Toyota products. Honestly one has absolutely no idea about the grip or direction of travel. A keyboard is more tactile in comparison to those.
This is very promising since it's within the same brand. If the 118 had electric steering and feels better than the X5 it will be just a matter of time before the F10 has equally good steering. The X5 today has far better feedback than the F10.
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