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      06-30-2010, 08:11 PM   #1
Soon ExAudi Guy
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Question Decision Time -- 550 vs 535 -- Comments Welcome -

This forum has been great so far.

After watching every You Tube video on the new 5, I took a 535i out last week, and today, the 550i and 535i out back to back. Amazing vehicles. I would certainly appreciate comments from those who considered both engines as to what was the tipping point. I find myself flipping and flopping at the moment, and want to place and order soon.

In my case, $ is not the concern. I found the 550i to be sublime, but perhaps "too much engine" if I am doing 90%+ of my driving in the city. I found the 535i to be easy to drive in the city (I did not have to ease back as often as the 550i which seems to want to go into orbit), but perhaps it needs a bit more "oomph". Another 50HP on that engine would make it perfect.

I have an Audi A6 4.2 V8 (335hp). I like the power for quick acceleration, and perhaps it just takes getting used to, but I found myself speeding all the time in the 550i and had to pull back. This could simply be what's normal when test piloting a new BMW.

Other considerations:

For the 5-6 snowfalls we receive per year, I am a touch concerned that the 550i, even with snow tires, might be tough to control.

Fuel economy -- I also have a Q7 that runs me $500 mth in fuel so I am not too worried, but it would be a shame to have to experience 20L/km in a car....if this is what I would expect from a 550i in the city.

Anyhow, your comments would be appreciated. What helped you decide on which engine to go with.

Cheers!
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      06-30-2010, 09:52 PM   #2
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Soon Ex,

We have a lot in common. I'm coming from an Audi, too; in my case, a 2007 A8 Sport. I drove both the 550 and the 535, and chose the 535 for handling. With close to a 300 lb difference between the 535 and the 550, most of it on the front end, I experienced a greater tendency to proceed in a straight line in the 550.

You need to understand that my daily commute consists of, in each direction, about 10 miles of tight (30-50 mi/hr) corners. At higher speeds, the 550 may come into its own. In those low-speed corners, the extra power of the 550 is not an advantage; the 535 has plenty of power to unsettle the rear end, if you're so inclined. So my situation may not reflect your needs.

The A8 is able to put the power down better due to the AWD (slow in/fast out is the right style). The limits on the 5er are higher, so the entry speeds can be faster, but the BMW is not very pitchable.

I don't have my car yet, so I can't tell you how it all turned out.

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      06-30-2010, 10:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soon ExAudi Guy View Post
This forum has been great so far.

After watching every You Tube video on the new 5, I took a 535i out last week, and today, the 550i and 535i out back to back. Amazing vehicles. I would certainly appreciate comments from those who considered both engines as to what was the tipping point. I find myself flipping and flopping at the moment, and want to place and order soon.

In my case, $ is not the concern. I found the 550i to be sublime, but perhaps "too much engine" if I am doing 90%+ of my driving in the city. I found the 535i to be easy to drive in the city (I did not have to ease back as often as the 550i which seems to want to go into orbit), but perhaps it needs a bit more "oomph". Another 50HP on that engine would make it perfect.

I have an Audi A6 4.2 V8 (335hp). I like the power for quick acceleration, and perhaps it just takes getting used to, but I found myself speeding all the time in the 550i and had to pull back. This could simply be what's normal when test piloting a new BMW.

Other considerations:

For the 5-6 snowfalls we receive per year, I am a touch concerned that the 550i, even with snow tires, might be tough to control.

Fuel economy -- I also have a Q7 that runs me $500 mth in fuel so I am not too worried, but it would be a shame to have to experience 20L/km in a car....if this is what I would expect from a 550i in the city.

Anyhow, your comments would be appreciated. What helped you decide on which engine to go with.

Cheers!
My current plan is to replace my E90 M3 sedan with a 550i when the lease ends. I gave the 535i some thought, too. Of course, I'm about a year away from ordering.

Personally, I'm a fan of torque, and I like the deep well of power available on the 550i. I don't think I can tell the difference in weight between the two cars. Take a couple of decent-sized friends along with you and the weight difference is moot.

As far as winter driving, I'd plan to put on four winter tires. Note, that's "WINTER tires", not "snow tires". In addition to the tread differences for ice / snow / slush, the rubber is very different. The summer tires that make my M3 such a delight make it a handful when the temperatures are approaching freezing. Acceleration, cornering, and braking are all compromised when the tires are cold. I have used winter tires on all of my BMWs (including 540i/6, M5, 335i coupe, M3 sedan), and the cars have been VERY stable. Even with 400 HP.
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      06-30-2010, 10:49 PM   #4
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I toiled with this decision as well. I really like the 550i sport rims. When you start adding a lot of content to the 535i, it starts pushing into 550i territory and the price difference starts to narrow.
Pro's:
-Beefy engine
-Bragging Rights
-Cooler rims and tail pipes

Con's:
-Beefy engine (cost,maintenance,gas)
-More expensive without REALLY getting more car
-Lower residual values

I had to rationalize this from my last purchase. I went for the v8 on my last car. It's nice to have 400hp under the bonnet. But I never use it. I mostly sit in traffic. Oil myself to work and back, and occasionally on the freeway on-ramp some Civic tries to pass me at the light. But it's few and far between. In my mind I'm on the Nürburgring, in reality, Costco parking lot, loading 5 gallon drum of mayo into the trunk. That's why I went with the 535i. More content, less engine (BTW the engine is more power than you'll ever need anyway, unless you last name is Schumacher). Seriously where in the USA can you drive 100+ safely and legally? The 535i can do this in it's sleep.
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      06-30-2010, 10:49 PM   #5
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535i Sport

I went with the 535i Sport for the following reasons:
  • Power and torque -- The N55 engine and 8A transmission are capable of delivering far more performance than you can typically use. There's always plenty of power and it's very easy to find yourself going way too fast. In the northeast with the traffic, stoplights and tightly enforced speed limits, there are only so many opportunities to let it rip during normal driving. When you can enjoy the car's capability, it's a blast.
  • The BMW I6 engine -- This is BMW's wheelhouse and what the brand is known for. I have a bias towards products that are part of the company's tradition and have a unique cache. For example, I'd buy a Mont Blanc pen but not a Mont Blanc watch. When I've bought a BMW, I've bought an I6 (I have 3). This is simply my buying pattern.
  • Balance -- I prioritized balance between power and handling over straight line speed and acceleration. The 535 is a little lighter and easier to maneuver; the 550 is a bit faster. The balance mattered to me more for everyday driving.
  • Trim -- I really liked the sport package wheels type 331 over the 332's. And I like the round exhaust tips better than the trapezoidal. Personal preference.
BMW and the other luxury auto makers continually introduce a higher performing range of models to keep pricing and profits high and stay competitive with each other. Marketing 101. Look how far engines have come over a product generation. The E39 540 was a beast. The F10 535i turbo has more power and is over 0.5 seconds faster 0-60. The F10 550i is in former M5 territory. Both of these cars, as I'm sure you've found, are rockets to drive. Both are quicker than your A6. The 550i is extreme performance and $. The 535i is outstanding performance and excellent bang for the buck.

Hope this helps. Good luck deciding.
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      07-01-2010, 12:08 AM   #6
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I did not drive a 550i before I ordered my 535i, but I did drive one at a BMW Driving Event. I can definitely understand the allure of the extra power. And the 550i is definitely a rocket. Crazy fast and yet still a relatively smooth drive. But even knowing now what the 550i was like, I'd still choose the 535i because:

1. It's enough power for me.
2. I like the sound of the I-6 better than the sound of the V-8. The V-8 was growlier and didn't sound as refined to me. The I-6 has a glorious engine note above 4K RPM
3. If you punch the 550i to hear the engine, by the time you do hear it you're already going 60 and have to let off the gas.

I came from a 335i though and I can definitely tell the extra heft of the 535i. It's not as spirited at low RPMs. The V-8 would give you that extra torque down low. So if you want plenty of torque, the V-8 is probably the way to go.
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      07-01-2010, 06:18 AM   #7
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I went through a lot of the same issues before I ordered mine. Drove them both before ordering at the BMW driving event which was a blast. Both were hands down better than the E-350, Audi A-6 and Lexus GS-350 there to drive. What won me over was the HP & Torque and the fact that once I added everthing to the 535 there was a smaller price difference than I had expected. In the end I thought the 535 was a great car but the 550 makes a statement.
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      07-01-2010, 08:22 AM   #8
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for my deal it will cost me $100 more per month 60 months for a 550i.
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      07-03-2010, 03:02 PM   #9
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Great feedback. I am leaning towards the 550i. In part, in Canada, you can't get ventilated/perforated seats on any of the 535i packages, and I really want the seats...and the torque. Hopefully can make time to put in my order in the next week or two. Next decision -- which color!
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      07-03-2010, 03:14 PM   #10
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535i vs 550i

If you plan to keep the car awhile, a point to consider is long term reliability. BMW eights, while glorious engines, tend to require an accelerated level of care as they mature.

The long term reliability of the turbo in the case of a 535i would be a concern to me but the stout engineering of BMWs 3.5 liter engines is legendary. IMO no other mfr can build a six like BMW.

(past rides: 2002tii, E28 M5, E39 M5
current rides: E9 3.0CS, E24 Euro M5, E60 M5)

Last edited by kealaiki; 07-03-2010 at 03:15 PM. Reason: incorrect info
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      07-03-2010, 03:16 PM   #11
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meant to say E24 Euro M6
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      07-03-2010, 05:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kealaiki View Post
If you plan to keep the car awhile, a point to consider is long term reliability.
The long term reliability of the turbo in the case of a 535i would be a concern to me but the stout engineering of BMWs 3.5 liter engines is legendary. IMO no other mfr can build a six like BMW.
Your first statement is a valid one.

However, your comment on "BMWs 3.5 liter engines" presumably refers to the current 3.0 liter I6 engine and the previous twin turbo I6. The latter engine has been anything but reliable. The 335i and 535i labels are a bit of a misnomer, since the engines are only 3.0 liters.

Check out the data offered by Consumers Report, J.D. Power or TruDelta.
BMW's reliability has slipped dramatically over the past four years, in large part due to the large number of HPFP failures in the twin turbo I6 gas engines.

Hopefully, the new single turbo 3.0 liter I6 engine will be a reliable one; only time will tell !!
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      07-03-2010, 07:16 PM   #13
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if money is no issue, 550 for sure
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      07-03-2010, 07:47 PM   #14
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I bought the 2011 550i and it is a ROCKET! I highly recommend that if money is not an issue, this is the BMW to have. I waffled between the 750 and the 550 but I just could not get the Grandpa feeling away from the 7.
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      07-04-2010, 06:10 AM   #15
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Agree with the comments above on the advantages of the 535i. The 550i is definitely faster/more torque, however, the 535i seemed to me more tossable & fun to drive. I think it's because you can't really hear the engine much on the 550i & it's weigh just a bit more. I was really intoxicated by the 550i power on the first test drive I took and was a little disappointed with the 535i on the same drive. I waited a week or so and went back and found the 535i test drive much better (with ZDH package). First 535i I drove did not have it. Also, as said above, the only time I'd use the power of the 550i is getting on and off offramps. In my everyday use (who doesn't floor the pedal and drive hard during car test drives), I will not be driving it like I did at the dealership. I would definitely get more speeding tickets with the 550i, so ultimately, I chose the 535i.
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      07-04-2010, 06:34 AM   #16
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The last post gives me pause for thought. I do plan another back to back test drive and will think about everyday driving. My instincts have always lead me to the largest engine and most loaded version of any car I've ever leased, but in this case, there is something quite compelling about the 5 series' "middle child" (the 535).

It is very interesting to hear everyone's point of view. Keep it coming please!
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      07-04-2010, 09:35 AM   #17
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I currently drive an E93 M3 and looking to expand my BMW family. I've had my eye on the 535 for a while. I used to own a 335, so I'm very familiar with BMW's turbo charged engines. These cars are pretty new in Canada, so I don't know too much about them. I haven't even seen any on the roads yet. Being a brand model, I'm sure you've got a pay the premium to own one of these.
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      07-04-2010, 09:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoss NY View Post
I went with the 535i Sport for the following reasons:[list][*]The BMW I6 engine -- This is BMW's wheelhouse and what the brand is known for. I have a bias towards products that are part of the company's tradition and have a unique cache. For example, I'd buy a Mont Blanc pen but not a Mont Blanc watch. When I've bought a BMW, I've bought an I6 (I have 3). This is simply my buying pattern.
This is a very important point. The inline six is BMW's core competency, not just purely in terms of power, but all things: balance, weight,efficiency, handling. I know people will point to the N54 as being unreliable, but let's not turn this into a HPFP thread. I think (and hope to god), that BMW has learned from their mistakes in the past generation inline 6, DI, turbo petrol engines.
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      07-08-2010, 11:18 PM   #19
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Decision made: 535i

I don't need 400HP for mainly city driving, I love the high revving inline 6, better fuel economy can't hurt, the 535 sport package rims are nicer than the 550s IMHO..... The great comments from many of you played a role. Thanks!

Last edited by Soon ExAudi Guy; 07-09-2010 at 06:08 AM.
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      07-09-2010, 03:47 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soon ExAudi Guy View Post
Decision made: 535i

I don't need 400HP for mainly city driving, I love the high revving v6, better fuel economy can't hurt, the 535 sport package rims are nicer than the 550s IMHO..... The great comments from many of you played a role. Thanks!
If you are looking for a v6, you will need to go Merc. the 535i has an I6 instead......
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      07-09-2010, 09:34 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soon ExAudi Guy View Post
Decision made: 535i

I don't need 400HP for mainly city driving, I love the high revving inline 6, better fuel economy can't hurt, the 535 sport package rims are nicer than the 550s IMHO..... The great comments from many of you played a role. Thanks!
Good call.

I have the 750xi. The engine is too big, too much like a freight train. The mileage sucks. I typically get 14 mpg driving in sport mode. I miss the torquey inline 6. It is just a better engine. I had the last 535xi and I miss it, the 7 is too big and I am going to place an order for a 535xi soon so I can have one when they get delivered this fall.

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      07-09-2010, 09:40 AM   #22
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Congrats Ex Audi Guy. Great choice. A fast, comfortable and still tossable car.
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