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Happy F10 driver
133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Picked up my new car on Friday. Built week 9 (week-commencing 28 February), arrived in UK 18th March. I was very specific about washing/waxing/transport wax treatment by the dealer and they did a nice job (i.e. didn't do much to it) so the paint work was in good shape for me to detail it myself - post-detailing pics over at:

Before you ask, pre-detailing photos are already posted at

Anyway, here's my effort at a mini-review.

Full Spec

UK-spec F10 520d SE
2TB sport auto gearbox
475 black sapphire
LCSW black dakota leather (std)
760 high gloss black shadow-line ext trim
761 sun protection glass
4AT black high gloss interior trim (std)
ZGA visibility package (522 xenons, 524 adaptive lights, 5AC high beam assistant)
ZGC professional media package (609 professional multimedia nav system, 612 BMW Assist, 616 BMW Assist online portal, 620 voice control, 633 bluetooth + telematics)
255 sport steering wheel
2K2 18" V-spoke 328 alloy wheels with ContiSportContact3 SSR 245/45 R18 RFTs
320 model designation deletion
3AP windscreen grey shade band
481 sports seats
4UR ambient lighting
534 extended air-con functions
654 DAB digital radio
677 professional 16-speaker DIRAC Hi-Fi loudspeaker system
6NF smart phone integration/telephone USB
6NR BMW mobile application preparation


Compared to my old 2009 E60 LCI 520d M Sport the car is a class or two above the old one in terms of ride quality, exterior and interior styling and the interior quality is light years ahead. the sports seats are more comfortable and supportive than the E60's and I would never dream of going back to standard seats. I would love comfort seats but are a very pricey option to have here. I found I was set in a comfortable driving position within minutes whereas in some cars (especially E90/E92 and 'cheap brands') I could never quite get it right. The overall driving position is better too - you do feel as though you are quite a bit higher than other normal cars around you and there's a better view of the road than the E60.

One bug-bear is that the driver's side door mirror doesn't tilt upwards as much as I would like. As I'm 6ft3" tall, even with the seat in the lowest position, the angle of view means the mirror shows a lower view than I would prefer. It's not dangerously bad so I will get used to it. The E92 was a bit like that too. I may ask the dealer if any adjustment can be made - I don't remember the test drives being like that.


Done about 200 miles so far, a mixture of twisty roads and motorways. No pulling to the left or right, no steering grinding, no hesitation or jerking. Can feel the extra power and torque with this newer engine and mated to the sport auto 8sp gearbox it is wonderful to drive. Even up over the Pennine hills it has sufficient pulling power and the gearbox always seems to select the correct gear.

Been playing around with the DDC (no active chassis on this car, so only affects the gearbox, traction control, accelerator response and steering assistance) and most of the time I like it in Normal mode. On the twisty roads Sport is excellent. I am keeping it carefully under the run-in advised 3,500rpm and 93mph for 1200 miles so not too much right foot yet.

Overall I do find the steering more vague than the E90 was, however no more vague than any competitor cars I have owned or driven and better than my extremely vague 2006 A6 SE. I suspect this is in part due to always having owned BMW M Sport versions with sport suspension and also partly down to having electric power steering with servotronic - my E60 had hydraulic ps with servotronic. I would never have sport suspension on UK roads any more because: a) I am getting older! and b) the roads are in such a state after two un-UK-like harsh winter spells which have caused potholes everywhere, even on some motorways. The ride quality more than makes up for the steering in my opinion - it's more like a 7 Series or an S-Class. The ContiSportContact 3e SSR 18/245/45 tyres are the most quiet and comfortable RFTs I've had.

I am particularly liking the parking brake auto-hold function. Instead of releasing the parking brake via the 'P' button after starting the car and preparing to move away, I just press the 'Auto-H' button instead and the car then does the right thing with it from moving away, to stopping at lights and junctions, to setting the parking brake when coming to the end of my journey when I turn off the engine. I just now have to remember that I don't need to keep my foot on the brake all the time when stopped! I notice that when auto-hold is engaged the brake lights are on.

I find the Stop/Start engine button needs a firmer/slightly longer push than the E60, especially when coming to turn off the engine. I keep giving it just a quick instantaneous push and nothing happening. I still can't get used to the radio and accessories staying on until I lock the car, or else remembering to press the button again before getting out in order to switch everything off.

I still don't know what the hell to do with the remote fob (which is on my big bunch of keys). I know there's a proper place in the cup-holder compartment, but I don't like that open all the time - it looks messy and I risk scratching the trim with the other keys I have taken to putting the keys in the driver's glove compartment next to the steering wheel, on the passenger seat or between my thighs!

I LOVE the sport steering wheel - it's just so thick, soft and comfortable - even more so than the E60 M sport wheel. Never will I go back to a standard wheel.

Ambient lighting, as I suspected, isn't very WOW on a black interior/exterior car. On beige/oyster door panels and silver exterior it looks amazing as per the pics that have been posted, but is muted on black as one would expect - this is even with the lighting turned up to the max. Fortunately this was a fairly cheap option from the list.

I can see the reflection of where the HUD unit would be if I had it installed. I can see what some people say about reflections from it but I only notice it if I go looking. I think if you are a shorter person and sit very low in the car it will perhaps be more of an issue.

Media / Nav

The professional nav is just excellent, as is the split screen function. It will take me a while to find how I like things. The 3D perspective function, with buildings in cities is just brilliant and works a treat in Manchester / Salford quays. I found the route criteria was set by default to Efficient (i.e. green) Route - I have found this too slow much of the time so have changed to Fast Route. I'll see what it's like for a long journey.

Tried all the various media options:
CD - also loading to the hard drive whilst listening to a CD works great. Plus if you stop the car, get back in and have taken the CD out after it's uploaded it, the system remembers where you were listening and resumes from the same place on the hard drive copy - great attention to detail
iPhone iPod album art works great and sound quality is better than I expected - via Apple cable because no snap-in media cradle available until summer
DVDs are amazing but have no idea when I would use that function!
Bluetooth audio streaming from my iPhone 4 works well but the quality is not quite there and unfortunately no album art or full track details.
I've already imported a lot of iTunes and mp3 files to the hard drive via the glove box USB and this is fairly quick and easy. I now have a USB stick on my keyring so when I get in the car I just plus the stick in the port and leave my keys in the glove box - seeing as there's no where better for them!
DAB digital radio is crisp and clear and no reception issues at all so far. there is an option to automatically switch to the FM version of a station when the DAB signal is lost which is cool. The station and track information works very well indeed. Never will I be stuck thinking 'what is the name of that song again?'.
Web radio - see Apps below.

The 16 speaker Hi-Fi speaker system is simply awesome. the range of frequencies has to be heard to be believed. It will take me some time to get the equaliser, balance and fader just how I like it. It is disappointing that you can't set it up individually for each sound source. I can't remember if my E60 did (the sound wasn't great in it anyway - standard system) by my A6 certainly allowed it.

BMW Apps (6NR)

BMW Connected web radio - excellent feature. I use web radio a lot at home so I will use this a lot. When you change the setting in iDrive to high quality the sound is really good (128/192kbps depending on the station). At home or around town the connection is solid, but when moving fast on the motorway or through areas with no 3G reception it cuts out at times - to be expected. However it checks the connection constantly and comes back on as soon as a 3G signal is back or another mobile reception tower is in range. Unfortunately will be useless when driving through the middle of nowheresville. It is irritating that using the voice control makes the web radio connection stop and then restart afterwards - it doesn't just mute it..
Facebook and Twitter - work very fast and very easy to use. Works when on the move as well as at a standstill.
Last mile - not used as yet, but is supposed to mean you can carry on navigating on foot to your destination after you have parked the car.

BMW Remote App

This app works a treat too, although it can take up to a minute for the car to act on the command. Will be frustrating when using the horn/lights features to find the car in a big car park when I've forgotten where I left it. The remote air circulation (called climate but doesn't operate the air-con) works much better and will be great for cooling the inside of the car when the ambient temperature is fairly low but the sun has heated up the inside of the car a lot - e.g. setting before I'm due to leave the office.

Voice control

Good for getting into settings or features that take several iDrive controller clicks. Sometimes gets it very wrong - BBC Radio One gets me BBC Asian Network! It does get me straight to 'Web radio' though with no bother. Dialling numbers from contacts is really easy and it nearly always gets the name right without it having to learn it from me like cars without full voice control.

Visibility Pack

Really should be standard on a premium car like this, so was a must for me. Haven't used the high beam assistant much yet, but the adaptive lights with cornering lights are just brilliant. A must-have option in my opinion. It also means my corona rings are bright white when operating as daytime running lights which are very cool.

BMW Assist / Online portal / Connected Drive

Firstly I find all these things really hard to get which does what - BMW Mobile Care, BMW Assist, BMW My Info, blah blah blah.

Connected Drive / Assist (whatever they are calling it this week) was very easy to set up on the website once you've got your head around it and chosen the strangest answers to security questions to then type into the BMW Remote App to authorise it. I've had a look at BMW Routes in the web portal and it looks cool - will definitely try one in Scotland or Wales in the summer.

The online news, weather etc. in the car is fine. Sometimes it's a bit slow - but that's 2.5G for you. It does have the cool ability to read out the news - some of the ways it says things, like places and people in Libya is pretty funny too. I've set up my own news feeds on it without a problem - via the website. Any RSS feed web address seems to work fine.

Not yet used the BMW Assist call centre and asked for something obscure yet. A bit scared to try to be honest! I keep remembering an episode of the UK car show Fifth Gear - when Vicki Butler-Henderson tried to ask them for the nearest MB or Audi dealership and the operator said they couldn't find any!

I can't see that the BMW Teleservice is working or available - any clues on this? According to the Bluetooth compatibility checker it should work fine with my iPhone 4 - I do have tethering and personal hotspot set up so it should work.

1,117 Posts
Nice write-up and great pictures. Car looks great, also picked up some ONR and will have to try it based on your results.

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