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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Car Review: BMW 5 Series (E60)

Introduction
I recently got the opportunity to drive around a BMW 525i E60, presumably 2007 model; maybe in the US, UK, Canada, Singapore,  Australia, or European countries (Shout-out to all you readers!) the BMW 5 series is a normal typical sedan, but in Malaysia BMW 5 series' are rated as premium vehicles. Thus, test drives are not that easy to come by, especially not one for a few hours. 






Performance 
The 525i I drove was pearl blue in colour, sporting an inline 6 engine making approximately 220 hp with 245 NM of torque. On paper, the car is able to pull 1600kg-ish of its weight from 0-100km/h from anywhere between 7.9 seconds to 8.3+ seconds. On a personal note, this car seems to accelerate much slower as compared to the much heavier, but torquer BMW X5 which I drove on the same day as well (But that is another story). That is considerably faster than most cars on the road already, and considering its size, it handles brilliantly. At one point, I was wondering why the car felt so slow, the meter showed 110-120. Took more than 10 seconds. Then I saw the mph and kmph version of the speedo decorated below the mph speedometer. Not bad at all! You don't feel the speed, but it is there.

Handling & Ride Comfort
So how does it drive? Malaysia is known for its awesome pot-hole filled roads with speed bumps everywhere on minor roads. In addition, the roads seem to have been made of rubber, as it is not flat; it waves up and down like a tidal wave. So how does the BMW 525i fare in this aspect? First, it creases the bumps with ease. Unlike my Toyota Altis, you don't feel the bump. There is no sound, no jitter, you don't fly up and down your seats, you just gracefully leap through the bump, as if it is insignificant.On the highway it doesn't bounce up and down like most Myvi's and my Toyota Altis thats for sure. In fact, It feels much better than the Toyota Camry (fairer to compare from the same segment).


The Interior 
The one I drove came with a M3 steering wheel and faux steel laminate trim instead of the faux wood trim. Leather interior is standard quality wise. Dashboard could do with a more improvement, there are still a lot of plastic feel to it. Conclusively, interior wise, somehow it doesn't feel as refine as Audi's. No doubt the build quality is top notch, the parts doesn't squeak or vibrate, the soundproofing blocks out significant exterior noise, the utility trays and knobs all feel solid, well built, but the interior just doesn't do it. The interior feels very dull and uncreative. Maybe due to the fact that its a sedan as a stable family car, it is suppose to portray a conventional approach. Another issue is the buttons. It has a lot of buttons for a lot of things. Even with the iDrive, there are still a lot of buttons everywhere. Personally, it just feels too cluttered.The only car which I've personally been in with much more buttons than this is the Porsche Panamera. On that car, the interior although cluttered, feels well refined and organized. By the way, the one I drove is right hand drive!




Price
For a new unit, you should be looking at approximately RM200,000 (USD $ 67,000), whereas a used one goes for RM170,000 (USD$ 56,000) for 2007 model. New ones are usually recond or unregistered units.



Conclusion
The BMW 5 series doesn't offer as much fun as an Audi TT for the same price range, it doesn't offer the nimble handling of a Lotus Elise, or the Luxury feeling you get in a Toyota Alphard. Instead, it manages to do everything moderately. It is a solid car, one that would get you and your family around town safely, but the power and handling is always there for some weekend spirited drive. Perfect all rounder.