Having now had my F10 for several hundred miles in the EU, and a few more hundred in the US, I***8217;d like to provide my views on the good and bad of my new F10, as compared to my previously-leased E60.
2011 535i 6M, ZSP, ZPP, ZDH, PDC (508), Rear camera (3AG), ZCW, CA (322), Fold-downs (465), NAV (it was free). Lease payment: actually 5% less than the E60, even with a few more options.
2008 535i ZSP, ZPP, ZCW, CA (322), Fold-downs (465), NAV (it was NOT free, but the ARS was included)
(Configured as above, the 2 cars are surprisingly similar, given the total redesign.)
Thoughts on choosing my ride:
I was certainly sad to give up the E60, given that I had grown attached over the 3 years and the (not nice) reputations F10 had been receiving, but my E60 was actually starting to look and feel a tad not-so-new (it did not feel old, I am just spoiled with my previous E46 330 CiC feeling new for the entire 7 years of ownership). My E60 was also riding on the original RFTs with some 24,000 miles on them, and I was finally starting to understand what others were complaining about: noisy and hard. My E60 on these old tires was not at all a BMW ride anymore. So in the end I was ready for a new 5-er.
I first drove my F10 on the floor of the Welt, and soon took off onto the A-Bahn, never really missing a beat. The smell and pure newness of the car clearly eclipsed my ability to judge differences from my E60. But after a while, I did manage to soak in some of the feel of the car. And now back in the US, I can say with more conviction that the 2 cars are much more similar than they are different.
First issue: steering
The steering is lighter than my E60, especially at speeds <30 mph when cornering. On the highway, the steering is firmer and is no less on-center than my E60. I am not sure if the electronic steering had been (partially) adjusted due to complaints or not. Like my E60, my F10 was delivered on almost the last (if not THE last) day one could take delivery on a 2011 (1st week of Sept, 2011), so it is possible that some of the 2010 and early 2011 kinks had been worked out. In any case, it is certainly a different experience, and while I understand the need to save gas with the electric steering and regenerative brakes, I wonder if the net benefit is really worth it.
More on tires: One has to remember that ride and handling comparisons between a car with 3 mm compared to 9 mm tread on the tires is going to be different even if on the same exact car. In fact, I wonder if some of you who have not compared new RFTs to new non-RFTs have erroneously tried to compare your new non-RFTs with old RFTs, because I believe a lot of the issues with RFTs crop up when they start wearing down. In any case, my not having compared new RFTs to new non-RFTs precludes any further comment on RFT ride/handing quality.
Steering Verdict: Not a huge issue for me; for future F10s in the near-term, it is likely an unresolvable issue for some of you (sorry). For me, without many options for a mid-size sport sedan with a 6M and free maintenance ALONG WITH INSANELY LOW LEASE PAYMENTS WITH THE ED PROGRAM AND THE BMWCCA REBATE, there were few options: keep the E60 (see above), or get the F10. We***8217;ll see if this still holds after a few more months. Who knows, I might start to notice the steering more***8230;.
I was not happy having to pay for ZDH to get ARS, but for safety and handling, this was a must for me. While the overall ride is somewhat softer than the E60, even in sport mode (and this is not a good thing in my mind), it is sill a very tossable car. When I ordered the car, I wondered if I would be disappointed with the F10 based on steering and suspension issues, but I am not (although it***8217;s nice to have a 2 vs 3 year lease this time).
The F10***8217;s shifter is shorter and, with the redesigned center console, although different (not better or worse), it allows better positioning of my right arm, plus niftier shifts with the shorter stick.
The engine is as smooth as the E60 was (very) but has a hum to it at low-to-mid throttle, akin to a 1980 LamdaSond Volvo I once knew. I like it better than the E60***8217;s rather groany sound it gave at low-to-mid-throttle, but would prefer a sound like my old E46 330 CiC (NOT the E90, I don***8217;t like the sound those make, especially from the outside). Both the E60 and F10 sound very nice (fun, not intrusive or strained) at heavier acceleration, no issues there.
The sport mode not only tightens the suspension but also makes throttle response more sensitive. Annoyingly so. It seems to be trying to simulate a faster car, when all it seems to be doing is changing initial throttle response. I prefer to get used to one feel (sensitive is fine) and live with it, but it is not programmable. So I ***8220;customized***8221; sport mode to be handling only, not ***8220;drivetrain***8221; (which I believe is JUST throttle response).
If brakes can go in this section, they make the car feel a tad heavier. But BMW brakes are tough to beat so, oddly enough, they are still one of the best things about BMWs.
I am glad that I did not get stuck with the auto start/stop setup that the 2012s have. I do have regenerative braking but sadly it does NOT regenerate when coasting in neutral (which I do often in a 6M). At the Welt, they had a demo of regenerative braking, it consisted of a wheel that spins when it hits the sidewall of the tire when decelerating, and lifts off of the wheel when not decelerating. Is this really how it works? Seems like the sidewall would wear out after a while***8230;
On the single turbo issue: I don***8217;t notice anything yet.
Drivetrain Verdict: Neutral. I was happy with the E60 but also happy with the F10; I don***8217;t see real progress /advantage in this dept though (yet). The E60 was plenty advanced in this dept.
Electronics- vastly improved
***8226; Better and faster iDrive, more buttons, no silly DVD-based delays, more options, etc.
***8226; I can still add a destination or a telephone number to one of the radio presets (now there are 8, up from 6), as I was able to in my E60. There are also about 40 radio presents (not buttons) in the Radio menu. Plus there are HD stations and much more info on song/album with RDS on.
***8226; Bigger NAV screen, better voice interpretation (quite good at interpreting compex commands [like barking out a #, street, city, and state all at once yields a correct exact address after about 10 seconds of ***8220;thinking***8221;]).
***8226; Love the add-ons to the speedo/tach; many of these were on newer E60s but not on mine:
o radio station is visible dead center, and seeking stations via steering wheel is much simpler now that you can see what stations you are cycling through.
o Abbreviated NAV directions are dead center (Audi***8217;s done this for years) and you can turn this off
o Oil and water gauges are back! (Forgot to check if there is a dipstick; I am betting no.
***8226; Faster-on electronics (Bluetooth phone connects in <5 sec on starting the car, with the E60 it was sometimes >60 sec)
***8226; Standard radio is still fair, like the one on the E60 but a bit better range if tweaked, but I hate having to tweak. At least getting to the ***8220;tone***8221; menu with the iDrive is not 14 steps***8230;
***8226; USB port and downloading of device and/or CD onto the HD is cool but the USB port is deep inside the cheapo) glove box and there is no groove in the lid to allw your cord to pass into the main cabin.
***8226; A/C fan is always on at start? Like my E46. We have regressed. FAIL
***8226; BONG is programmable to low volume and gives you longer than 4 sec to get your seatbelt latched before jolting your brain.
***8226; PDC is ok, don***8217;t think I need anything but the rear camera there. Beeps can be turned off but doing so turns off the camera also. You can lower the volume but not turn off without turning the camera off. Poor execution there.
***8226; They took away the dash-mounted trunk release; in the E60 it sat next to the door lock switch and I used it every day! I now have to bend down to reach the button in the front/bottom/left near the dead pedal. Why did they do that? Poor execution again.
***8226; Leather seating about the same. Maybe a tad cheaper? Maybe too new to tell.
***8226; Steering wheel, although thick with the ZCW, is cheap, thin leather without any grain to it; reminds me of my old Toyota Solara-trying-to-be-a Lexus. I do not like it at all. Also, the heated steering wheel does not get as hot either. FAIL
***8226; Visor is still hard-stuck to its clamp, requires heavy jerk to dislodge, just like my E60.
***8226; Glove box is thinner.lighter, and has a very cheap feel to it when opening and closing. Cheapo.
***8226; Side mirror sculpting has created a small a blind spot that takes getting used to.
***8226; Sunroof is quieter when open at speed but still noisier than my E60.
***8226; Exterior metal skin is thinner, and feels cheaper
***8226; F10 dimension is slightly wider than the E60, makes garage entry a tad slower.
***8226; Styling is personal preference. I don***8217;t like the protrusion of the nose and the blandness of the rear, but the E60 took some getting used to also.
***8226; Door handles feel cheaper than the E60
***8226; Truck closure is less confident/cheaper than the E60, it is really bad.
***8226; Door closure is the same as my E60. I don***8217;t have the auto-close feature; that bugged me on the loaner I had. Happy there is no change there.
***8226; Spare tire is gone. My E60 had RFTs but also a small spare. Now I really feel helpless.
***8226; The remote is way too big, I don***8217;t care of it has a better battery. It is a much bigger bulge in my pocket.
Overall, it is a nice $60K car that is mostly unchanged from the E60 in the grand scheme of things, but there are multiple areas that either fail or have regressed relative to the E60. Given the techno advances, some of the bad things are made up for, so depending on how many of the changes you like or don***8217;t like, it may or may not float your boat. I***8217;m happy but again glad that my lease is only 2 years. What to do in 2013 though, since it will be 2016-17 before we see a newer 5.