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Help Spec'ing New 550i

6613 Views 44 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  ksqrd
After months of hand wringing and test drives of XJs, A8, 750i, CLS550, E550, 550i, and LS460, I have settled on ordering a 2013 550i. This site has been invaluable and thanks to all of the posters that take the time to share information. Now, I'd like to see if I can get some advice on my spec.

1. It looks like there is no more 4-zone climate control. I have a 10 & 13 YO and they like being able to adjust their own thermostat. Is this available in the 2013 model 5 series?

2. I like the Dark Graphite II exterior color and I really wanted to pair it up with the Saddle colored interior I saw in a 7 series. But, as you all know, that color isn't available in the 550i. I haven't found a color that I like yet. I have been to the dealer a few times to see various cars with different colors and I'd say the Venetian Biege or Cinnamon Brown are the leading contenders right now. However, I am not too crazy about the Dakota leather vs. the Nappa leather. I don't want to go to the Individual selections because that is incompatible with the M Sport package. Does anyone have a Dark Graphite car with Venetian Biege or Cinnamon interior? How does it look and would you order it again? What about the overall look and feel of the Dakota leather after a year or so?

3. I have been looking at 'black wood' trim in my AMG car for ten years now and I am sick of it. I want something that actually looks like real wood in my new car. On the BMW configurator, the Light Wood trim looks REALLY light. Does anyone have this and is it really that light? Any suggestions of nice wood and interior color combinations would be appreciated.

4. I wish BMW would dump the run flat tires. I have a Mini Cooper with them and can't stand them. I'll probably replace them with non-run flat and buy the spare package, but it seems ridiculous to have to do this on a $75,000 car. I have to say, the Jaguar XJ almost won out in my selection because of this one difference.

5. There are a few options associated with adaptable/programmable suspension & transmissions. I don't plan to take this car on the track and it's going to be just a daily driver for work. Which one of the options is most worthwhile? Can I get by with just the Electronic Damper Control option or should I go for the Dynamic Handling Package with Adaptive Drive and Dynamic Damper Control? Is the Electronic Damping control the same as the Dynamic Damper Control? What about Active Roll Stabilization? Do I need that for 'regular driving'?

6. I spec'd out the Night Vision although I don't think that is a very popular option, from what I can tell. However, I live in a neighborhood with tons of runners and joggers that frequently run on the street in the dark at various times of the year and we get our share of deer that wander through the neighborhood as well. For those that have it, is this option worth the $2,600 price tag? Is it really effective?

So far, here are the specs I have picked, comments or suggestions are welcomed:

550i Rear wheel drive
Dark Graphite II
Interior - not sure
Wood trim - not sure
Driver Assistance Pkg and Plus Pkg.
Executive Pkg.
Luxury Seating Pkg.
M Sport Package
Steptronic Auto Transmission
Electronic Damping Control
Rear Sunshades
High Beam Assistant
Parking Assistant
Active Cruise Control
Night Vision

Thanks in advance for comments and suggestions.

Greg
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2. Dakota is solid, but Nappa is the way to go. Very luxurious and something you will touch everyday.
3. Light wood looks good on lighter interiors. Anthicite wood on darker colors.
4. Take the RFT's off immediately and sell them on Craigslist and swap to regular tires. Use proceeds to ofset cost of new tires and inflation kit.
5. Damper control. electronic or dynamic, is the same thing. Not 100% necessary, but adds to custimiztion of ride and comfort. Also adds cost, and complexity. ARS isn't necessary for normal driving, it is if you are a super aggressive driver.
6. Night vision is a waste of money in my opinion. So is active cruise control unless you drive a lot on the highway. I think HUD is much more useful.





1) 4 Zone Climate Control no longer available for MY13 except for the Active Hybrid 5. Why, I have no clue and doesn't make any sense in my book.
TJ,
Thanks for all of the advice and especially the pics. That is the color I am after. I found the answer to one of my questions about the 4-zone climate control after my post. Unavailable! That's not good. May become a deal killer.

The night vision took a lot of consideration. I can't tell you how many times I have been driving through my neighborhood in the dark and suddenly spotted a jogger on the road next to the gutter with minimal reflective gear. But yes, it's expensive and tough to justify for 90% of buyers.

One other question for you or anyone else. Do you know if weather radar depictions are available with the new professional nav system? I fly my own plane and I am frequently wondering what the local and distant radar picture looks like when I am on the way to the airport. I also like being able to pull up this info on a trip in the car. In the plane, I get a weather radar download over the XM radio receiver, but it comes through with a special Aviator's package. I have found out there are a number of car makes that can depict the weather radar picture on their screens, but haven't been able to verify if the BMW nav system can do that.
I have the dark graphite metallic with black dakota and anthracite trim. Also the M sport so the dark shadowline trim around the windows.:thumbup:

I can't vouch for the nappa as I never felt it personally, but it gets very good reviews here- I can imagine it is quite nice.

I may be biased but I think the combo of the black leather and anthracite on a dark car is beautiful. Fair warning though it gets very hot on the inside if left out in the sun!

+1 on TJ'd suggestion on the HUD- definitely a must on a 550. I can quickly glance down and see my speed. I find I have to keep a sharp eye on the speed as this car doesn't like to go slow. Especially in a small town with 40-45 MPH eveywhere, these cars stand out a bit!:thumbup:
I have the dark graphite metallic with oyster / black interior with a dark (brown) wood trim. Dark wood wasn't an option when I congifured on the BMW website, but my dealer was able to select it when I ordered. I really like how it turned out.
Sorry, I'm too lazy to look at the packages for 2013 right now, but side/top cameras are a must. I don't know if I can ever have another car without them. :)
I wouldn't worry about the 4 zone climate control. Unless you really need rear passenger HVAC customization. I just leave the car in Auto and it cools and heats the car perfectly.
TJ,
Thanks for all of the advice and especially the pics. That is the color I am after. I found the answer to one of my questions about the 4-zone climate control after my post. Unavailable! That's not good. May become a deal killer.
Color wise I'd go with oyster. Looks incredible with dark graphite and also available in nappa. It is also the only color that looks good with the light wood. That said id still go with the fine line anthracite because it really is a different look that the black ash wood on Amg cars. I like it!
OP:

I have a 2012 dark graphite II 550i with black nappa and anthracite and ceramic controls. Imo, most elegant combo available for this car. But as a previous poster said, it does get hot so you would have to factor the expense of getting the windows tinted with a film that provides sufficient heat rejection. I highlighted the above quote because I could not agree more with the statement. Like you I was very meticulous about my car buying choices and how to properly spec them. I was also skeptical about whether I would need certain options. Below is a list of options that I either chose or you mentioned in your post, and I state whether I believe in hindsight they were worth the money to choose or a good idea to forgo. Please note that I offer this purely as my own opinion based solely on my experience with the car so far, and not what I have read:

Nappa: Worth the money. I have had the car 4 months and I still look forward to smelling and touching the leather. It's very smooth but yet somewhat durable. Given how often I get in and out of the driver's seat I think its remarkable that I haven't seen any creases. However, I don't think it's as durable as dakota, and that's something to keep in mind since you have kids. That wasn't a consideration for me. I didn't choose dakota because I didn't like the coarseness and I preferred the feel of the nappa.

Top view camera: Worth the money. One of the best options you can get. Makes parking and maneuvering this big ass car (I'm coming from a honda accord coupe) very easy. This option may have already paid for itself by reducing the likelihood that I'm going to scratch the rims. You can also look at this as protecting your investment. I use the S&T cameras alot more than the rearview camera, probably like 80/20.

ARS: Worth the money to me, but maybe not for others. Not worth the money if your car is strictly going to be a daily driver. But if you like to drive and hit off ramps at 70 mph without any roll, then you and your passengers will enjoy ARS. Also makes driving through curvy and twisty roads pretty enjoyable. You will marvel at how fast and maneuverable a car this size can be. I have to say that this one option made my driving experience through back roads of germany and switzerland one of the highlights of my trip.

HUD: Worth the money. If I didn't have this, then I wouldn't know how fast I was going......and that's pretty important. The way my steering wheel is configured, and my normal hand placement, blocks the speedometer. So HUD helps out with this. Also, the turn by turn directions are very useful and make driving somewhere that you need directions to safer. And by selecting this option I was able to get a modified driving display panel that gives more information than the regular non-hud driving display. I'm not sure if that is still the case with the 2013s. For the 2012 it was called the extended black panel display, or something like that.

Night vision: Did not get. Did not think it was worth the money. But your unique circumstances may dictate otherwise.

4 zone climate control: Did not get/not worth the money. I'm usually alone in the car.

Dynamic Dampers: Absolutely worth the money. Honestly, I should have probably led off with this one because this is just a different vehicle without the dampers. When I go from comfort to sport, I seriously feel like I'm driving a different car. Suspension, throttle, steering control all feel different....i.e. better and more precise.

Adaptive Cruise Control: Did not get it. I rarely use the regular cruise control. But it seemed to me that the advantages gained over the regular cruise control didn't justify the price of this option.

BMW Apps: Not worth the money. I only got them in the hope that eventually a solution for my Android phone would be around the corner. Unfortunately that has not been the case.

Integral Active Steering: Not sure on this one. I honestly do not know if this was worth the money because I do not know how much this option contributes to my current driving experience. Yes the vehicle has a better than expected turning radius, but the option was advertised as one that improved handling at quicker speeds and I just can't tell if that is true or not. ARS you can actually feel working. IAS not so much.

Msport: Had to get it. From the beginning I considered this to a be non-optional option. Non msport F-10s just didn't have that agressive sport sedan look that I was aiming for.

Sideview Cameras: Not worth the money. I rarely use them. If I had to guess, I would say that I have used them (other than just messing around) to assist my driving a grand total of 3 times.......and 2 of those times was in europe. I use the top view and rear view cameras far more often.

RFT: Not an option, but I thought I would list it here. I swapped out my pirelli rfts for some michelin pilot super sports based on the rave reviews I read on this forum......and I haven't looked back. The pirellis were actually not that bad, I didn't have anywhere near the horrible experience that others had with their oem rfts (maybe because I live in LA). But there was a noticeable difference in handling and ride quality when I went with the super sports. After all they are oem M5 tires. And the guys at the tire shop were I got them installed (not purchased) were gushing over how much I was going to like them. So far I haven't been disappointed.
Sorry, I'm too lazy to look at the packages for 2013 right now, but side/top cameras are a must. I don't know if I can ever have another car without them. :)
If they made the dark grey interior with the black bottom section, like they do with the F30 and with the Oyster/black packages, I would have been ALL over that.

Also Black Cube trim would be fantastic as well, since it's basically what a ton of us E46 nerds did with our "wood paneling" .

Third, bring back Steel Grey, it was in a perfect spot in between Dark Graphite (which is going to look black 90% of the time) and Space Grey (which trends toward blue/silver too much)
Thanks man. Just trying to pay it forward.......like you did with me.
@Blkthght

:clap:
I have had my 550 for five months almost. I have Imperial Blue with Oyster (Dakota) and Anthracite. I would prefer the dark wood, but the Anthracite looks good due to the amount of black on the dash and upper and lower doors. I have a fairly well equipped car. I have top view cameras but I could easily live without them. I love heads up. My car has the basic sport suspension (adjustable shocks) and it is fine for living in Houston, but if we had roads with curves I'd probably want the roll stabilization. But we don't and I don't miss it.

If I lived in the north I'd have to have the heated steering wheel. I bought a car off the lot that does not have it. Even living in Houston I would have ordered it. I figure if you are going to buy a $75,000 car you should spring for the extras that make you say "ahhhh" even if it's only occasionally that you use them.



I dont got to the tract with mine either, but I LOVE having the options for this; I find that in Daily driving it handy; and from my test drive for cars without it I didn't like them; This was a must for me - not for the track, but just because it felt better to me on the road. I pretty much only use comfort and sport; I used comfort plus 1 time int he last 8 months when bringing my daughter home from the hospital but I could have lived without comfort+

5. There are a few options associated with adaptable/programmable suspension & transmissions. I don't plan to take this car on the track and it's going to be just a daily driver for work. Which one of the options is most worthwhile? Can I get by with just the Electronic Damper Control option or should I go for the Dynamic Handling Package with Adaptive Drive and Dynamic Damper Control? Is the Electronic Damping control the same as the Dynamic Damper Control? What about Active Roll Stabilization? Do I need that for 'regular driving'?
6. I spec'd out the Night Vision although I don't think that is a very popular option, from what I can tell. However, I live in a neighborhood with tons of runners and joggers that frequently run on the street in the dark at various times of the year and we get our share of deer that wander through the neighborhood as well. For those that have it, is this option worth the $2,600 price tag? Is it really effective?
I have night vision, and I have used it as much as possible; here is the flaws I see with
1) View angle, not wide enough to see animals or people on the the road unless they are way ahead of you; System appears to be designed to see people walking along the road and not ones that come out in front of you from the sides - you have to test drive a car with NV to really understand what I'm saying here - i wish they had one for me to test drive when I purchased it.

2) even when they are way in front of you; you can barley see the "yellow" tint applied by the computer - so you miss it anyways

3) detection of people works, but is limited use - as indicated above field of view/view angle is too narrow out front of car

4) Camera is a 4:3 aspect, screen is something bigger than 16:9; leaves tons os wasted space on screen, unless you activate split screen to put up nav or whatever... However I hate split screen in all other areas other than when night vision is on; but you cant set a preference to split screen only when NV is active (minor i'm sure, but...)

5) it detects ANYTHING with heat; so this means; those cable boxes on side of residential streets; storm drains are always hot BTW and can be detected by this system; anything that used power comes up white as its warmer; Different materials come up white/hot as they loose heat slower that stuff around them; parked cars all vary in heat, so they end up showing up as hot etc; All this means it works, but there is a ton of noise on the screen t be effective - also seems reflective signs are always white/hot on the display

6) Cant turn on NV with voice command, and you have to dig around in the dark to find a button hidden by the steering wheel, and there is like 4 of 5 of them there for lane, bind spot, heads up, and something else that makes it hard to hit the right button!

On the positive side, its great at helping you find warm police cars on the side of the road that are 100m away! (you already have the ticket by then!)

I wanted this feature, and thought it was cool to have etc - it was a must have for me when I got the car - however after using it for 8 months (winter and now sumer), along with rear seat entertainment - I wish I kept my money for both those options!

p.s. You never mentioned soft close doors - I really wish I had this - computer issue caused that to get rejected on my order, and I didn't want to wait for a new car to build and ship; but I wish I had that

p.s.s. I dont think you mentioned active cruise - this is the best money I spent in options for this car; works awesome; gives you collision warning and works very well (I can trust it) - I would look at getting this if you do any hiway driving at all;
Forgot to point out;

Headlights:
that the headlights I believe work very well; and for avoiding people on the side of the road; I think they have enough light off to the sides to not even cause me concern for avoid people on the road... so don't feel like you have to have NV to be safe around all those crazy people that wake up at 430 and go running


HighBean Assist:
Works great also; I was actually surprised - I thought it was a gimmick, but it does exactly what it says it will, and never had an oncoming driver flash lights at me with this feature on (which can be coded to default on if you read the coding posts on this forum)
Nappa is so worth it. I have 2 little kids and it's not an issue.
Thanks for all of the responses. Good real world experiences with several options I have been on the fence about like the Night Vision and Nappa Leather. bmguy, TJ, and Blkthght, really appreciate the time you spent typing out detailed responses.

Couple of comments to the information offered:

The HUD has always been a must for me. It was one of the big plusses for the BMW over the XJ.

I wish the Nappa leather was available in more colors since I don't want another car with a black interior and I am not crazy about the Oyster after having it in another car a long time ago. Back seat gets a lot of kid traffic.

Tj, the 4-zone climate control is kind of a hot button for my kids because my elf like 10YO daughter gets cold all of the time and she is prone to motion sickness like my wife. Seems like she does a lot better with the ability to control the vent(s) blowing her way. My 13YO son always seems to have a different idea about the best temp. We have 4-zone in our SUV and everyone stays happy regardless of which window the sun is shining into.

jjs, the Oyster and Anthracite look good in the pics, but you may feel differently after looking at it for ten years like I have. I remember how cool I thought it looked for a long time after I got the car, though. 'Course, I have gotten to the point I despise the E55, so that could affect my judgement!

I took the active cruise option off the list since I use the car for trips only occasionally and it is too expensive for the benefit I would get from it.

M Sport Package has always been a given!

bmguy, you gave great insight regarding the Night Vision. Gotta' think about that option more, now.

Thanks again for all of the info. Lots to digest and rethink.

Greg
That's Light Wood Trim in those pics, but is that Oyster on Black? I like Venetian Beige but it isn't "on Black."
I love my 12 550xi with Dark Metallic Grey II. It can seem to change in light from a grey-brown, to a dark gray. Quite an interesting color. It seems to hide swirls much, much better than my previous Imperial Blue metallic (i know how to detail cars). The DMG II does look good, even when dirty.

I have black dakota, which is fine for my use. Anthracite is dark...so if you order a dark car with anthracite it will be darker, but not horrible IMO. In fact I prefer it as there isn't a giant sun bathing area in the cockpit. Dark cockpits do cut out the glare of the sun, and you have any sensitivities to the sun or take meds that make you more prone to side effects, a dark interior is the way to go IMO.

I had an imperial blue, and liked it at first on my 535xi, then really lost my interest in it. DMG II really does pop when out in the sun (of course when clean). When not, its still looks pretty good.

Black interior does hide a lot of sins. I do treat my leather at least once a month, make sure it's vacuumed and dusted and treated. However I'm not babying it like a Porsche GT2. It's a daily driver. One the positive, it holds up great as a daily driver!

I have HUD, but I don't know how much night vision will add. You need to be concentrating on the road, not the dash, IMO. The only thing extra I would have added would have been the powered shades. Even though my climate is cooler, parked out in the sun a car with a dark interior and dark exterior does get warm. However I haven't found a problem with BMW's HVAC.

Good luck on your car hunt/order.
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