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"My new F10 vs old E60" Report (Long)

7837 Views 31 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  tadtaggert
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.

The New:

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.

The Old:

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.
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Nice writeup, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

A couple of things to add:

Also adjusts steering weight.
Good to know. So how can one have suspension and steering in sport mode but leave the touchy throttle business off?

What don't you like about it? I think it's very accurate, even picks up curbs for me. I could probably use it without the camera, that's how much I trust it.
The PDK tone cannot be turned off

USB port in the glovebox is meant for one time upload off of a memory stick. The port in the glovebox is for any device you want to use.
another good to know (RTFM)

Mine is not always on at startup. I leave it in Auto and it barely comes on when you start the car. Play with the "intensity" settings, you may have yours up very high.
Not sure what you mean, auto means it will be on at startup; the fan may be low but it is on. I want the entire A/C off at startup if I shut down the car in off position...
Awesome write-up. Thanks. Do you have any (slightest) pull to the right?

Slightly LEFT, have to bring to dealer.
The steering wheel is actually better leather, nappa leather. It has no grain because it doesn't need to have grain stamped into it to hide imperfections like the dakota leather. I love the nappa steering wheel.

Thinner exterior metal skin? Really? I'm curious how you were able to measure this.
Personal pref on the steering wheel, I do not like the smoother leather, it feels paper thin and scratches show more easily. I am sure I'll get used to it, and who knows, may end up preferring it once they go back, but only due to hating change. It also does not get as warm as my E60 with the CWP.

I have no idea if the mil has changed, but the doors feel lighter and flimsier (like the cheap glove box). Even my grade schoolers noticed as soon as I got home with the new car. They think the wood trim is fake and cheaper than the old one also.

Just informed yesterday by these discriminating kids that the back of the front seats is hard plastic, whereas the E60 was soft (which for me could be a safety issue in an accident). Cheapo again.

Apart from some of the F10 technology (which is not all that improved over the E60, see a separate thread of mine), one can start to see where corners have been cut, or at least I personally feel like they have. Still an amazing machine, but...

Having read the E60 gripes by former E39 owners back in 2005, this all may very well be "progress remorse" (and not all E39 owners hate the E60, neither do all E60 owners hate the F10). But since we can't get a good lease and free maintenance on a new E39, the only option for dissatisfied F10 owners or would-be owners would be to head to another brand, provided you are willing to give up your manual tranny (not me, bro), unless of course you want to downsize (again, not me).

Having said that...
Keep cheapening the 5-er and I suspect BMW will start to see a departure from their avid followers. They've already lost the car mags.

One more ramble:
I have a sneaking suspicion that the dummying down of the F10's sporty characteristics and cheapening of materials in their cars (that are disguised as improved via start/stop, switchable ride level, etc) is part of a plan to set us up for a staged rollout of bona-fide improvements that will justify a renewed "reason to by BMW" and/or a significant price increase sometime down the line (one that will again wow the car mags). Given the economy today and the catching up of technology that is blurring the lines a bit, there is less and less room for improvement these days. So why not dummy things down for a tad and then start moving forward again so progress is more noticeable? Just a thought.
Nice writup, thanks! I am also a new F10 owner, coming from an E60 ( and an E39 before that). A lot of what you say resonates with my impressions.

What about the seat height? That is probably the most noticeable change to me. The car has you sitting a lot lower, which I don't like. The front of rhe car seems further away while driving, and you cant comfortably rest your left elbow on the door frame. Feels bigger overall, too.
I actually like the seats to be lower, but agree that this precludes elbow rest options and decreases visibility as well.

One thing I am now noticing is the rear section of the seat cushion is thinner than in the E60, so my tailbone feels it as a hard surface, whereas the seats were softer there but still firm in the E60. I had a loaner E39 years ago that had this problem and it made the feel for us skinny-butts less than desirable. If I can't adjust this to optimize comfort, I may be visiting leasetrader at some point.

I don't have an issue with those above that miss the E60 steering and handling, but I don't want to be mis-quoted. I do think it is still "mostly unchanged from the E60 in the grand scheme of things" but that "it may or may not float your boat." I also said that I'm happy that my lease is only for 2 years because of all of the shortcomings that, although are balanced by some improvements, don't make for a truly overall improved car.

Show me a good alternative with a 6M and a great ED lease program, and I'll do some serious reconsidering...
Huh. I wonder if most people feel this way. I like to feel more like I'm sitting in a chair than sitting on the floor. That's why I'd never buy a sports car.

I find the seats in my F10 to be more comfortable. I had the "sports seats" in my E60 (or whatever they called them), and have the comfort seats now. Maybe you didn't go from sports to comfort?
I have the same seats that came with the ZSP then and now; in 08 and 11, the comfort seats with the gazillion-way adjust are standard. I just find the rear part of the seat cushion less padded in my 11 than in my 08. The rest is about the same, very nice feel. Luxury sport.
Today is my first day of driving the new 550 after it got here from my ED trip. I noticed some more stuff for this list:

* I really like the new "lever style" parking brake. Since I have a standard, I use the parking brake every time I drive the car, and the little lever is easier than the normal long rod type parking brake. Takes up less room too. It will take some getting used to, though.

* Two things that I don't think they got right in the F10 and they didn't get them right in the E60 either are the heated steering wheel button and the lack of a place to put things down like sunglasses. As with the E60, the heated steering wheel button is on the steering column where you can't see it, and can't see whether it's lit up or not so you can tell if it's on. And I don't get why they don't give you a little open compartment to put stuff down like sunglasses or other small stuff that you want to put down when you get in the car and take with you when you leave.

- Dave
I hate the parking brake, I have a 6M and don't like the feel at all. Plus, not sure what to do if brakes fail on the highway and need my emergency brake, you can't modulate it. The all-or none-ness is going to get people killed.

I used to put my glasses in the well of the NAV, now it is too small so I too use the left sided glove box. Harder to pick them up now without fingerprints on them but at least there is a place for them.

Agree on the steering wheel, can't see the light at all. And it does not stay on when I shut down and go to the ATM and return to start-up. The E60 had short-term memory and the F10 has none. Same with the A/C; there the long term memory is also non-existent. It keeps coming on at start-up, just like my E46 used to. Hated that, loved the E60 for not doing this, now its back. Grr,

Plus, my comfort access is not working at all, what a rip. Need dealer attention for this and also for alignment issue. Grr again.
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