Drives: Not a BMW...
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Manchester, UK
UPDATE: ADLX reviews the BMW 550i F10 manual and compares to the E39 M5
Also see the F10 5-series Review Compilation: http://f10.5post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=343293
Car tested is a 550i manual with "sport package", "dynamic handling package" and integral active steering.
No complaints about the steering, btw.
POWER into a corner and the first thing you’ll notice is just how eager the 2011 BMW 550i tears into it – like a possessed terrier that upon sighting the wily squirrel – sets off, up, over, through, and round brush, wood, and rock until the target is acquired.
A large part of this 4,343 pound 5-series sedan’s ferocity can be linked to the Heaven-sent, torque rich, 400 hp Twin-Turbo V8 – the same magnificent motor found in the 750Li. Equal credit is due, however, to the physics defying technological armada that’s employed to do your bidding.
The 550i’s Integral Active Steering, for instance, is an innovative feature that’s evolved from just a slightly numb steer-by-wire system in the previous 5-Series (E60), to a super-intuitive, ultra responsive position command system that, among other things, adjusts the rear wheels to rotate up to 2.5 degrees opposite the fronts to increase turn-in under 37 mph. Above that tempo, the rears move in-sync with fronts.
There’s also an active anti-roll bar that keeps the big Bimmer remarkably flat through the bends.
All this leaves you, the would-be maestro behind the wheel, to marvel at the smooth symphony of movement.
That said, it really doesn’t matter which of four suspension/engine settings you select via dash-mounted rotary knob; “Sport Plus”, “Sport”, “Normal”, or “Comfort”, the essential timing is such that the 550i really never misses a beat. Never gets caught off guard. Always seems eager, assured, and planted.
And in the event one or all of the four wheels takes flight from the road’s surly bonds, the 550i lands safely each time, every time.
Of course it would.
The prime question in BMW’s evolution over the last decade hasn’t been whether Munich’s boffins could engineer new models to outperform their esteemed predecessors, but whether by executing the quest to build the ultimate driving experience, the driving machine itself would become over-sanitized. A German, RWD Lexus, if you will.
The key barometer in this evolutionary balance has been the 5-Series – BMW’s midsize sedan that’s supposed to step lively like a 3-series whilst being uncompromising like a 7-series in miniature. Trouble for some is that the new 5er’s proportions have swelled to the point that the car now looks more like 7er than ever before.
With flared wheel arches, a long, high, pedestrian-crash-spec bonnet, and tall roofline that creates the common wedge once c-pillars descend into a high trunklid, the 5-series not only stands aggressively, it’s dimensions (57.6″h x 73.2″w x 193.1″l) now rival those of an (E38) 740i (56.1″h x 73.1″w x 196.2″l). In point of fact, the 550i’s wheelbase at 116.9″ is almost two inches longer than the old SWB 7′s.
In the wider marketplace, the 5-series’ traditionally served as the less practical, fun-to-drive alternative to that sober, unfailingly logical choice for executives and cab drivers – the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.This, for all intents and purposes seems to remain the case. It’s fairly attractive, too. The new 5′s toned-down the flame surfacing of the Bangle era which is a blessing, though, the overall shape leaves something to be desired.
BMW’s 5-Series seems to be just a little impractical on purpose. Consider the sumptuously appointed leather meets wood cabin. The a, b, and c pillars envelope the occupants tightly, obscuring outward visibility, and taking up the dimensional slack from the broad exterior.
BMW designers combined that tight architecture with a high shoulder line. And, as it BMW custom, the dash twists in favor of the driver rather than being set back and away.... continued at: ADLX Review: 2011 BMW 550i
UPDATE: ADLX: BMW 550i F10 vs M5 E39.
DEEP in the heart of the Constitution State, there’s an area called “Devil’s Hopyard.” State forest – the land comprises a waterfall that gushes into a ravine that cuts through a narrow valley between two steep ridges. Legend has it that Puritans were convinced/spooked that the perfectly round divots in the rocks below the falls must be marks left from the Devil’s happy hooves. Hence the name.
In the Hopyard, a road rises, falls, twists, and bends between hillside and river. Devil BMW turf. That’s why we chose Devil’s Hopyard as our location for the first BMW enthusiast segment back in 2007. Then, it was a test of mettle and viewpoints: did the e39 M5 have the cojones to put down the standard e60 550i? We threw in an M6 for good measure. The M6′s 5.0 L, 510 hp V10 blew in everyone’s doors that day.
We concluded, rather diplomatically, that the e60 5er was a flambéed luxe sedan that stepped in favor of Chris Bangle’s new sporting luxury. The ’07 550i’s performance specs remained a respectful half step behind the ’00 e39 M5: the 550i’s (N62B48) 4.8 L V8 made 360 hp and 360 torques @ 3400 rpm , respectively, versus the M5′s venerable (S62) 5.0 L V8 which produced between 394-400 hp and 395 torques @ 3800 rpm.
With curb weights nearly identical – 3,803 lbs and 3,792 lbs, respectively – simple math assured us that with the same driver, the M5 would eek out a victory on the backroads and in the straights. The M5 was harder and meaner – and the 550i just a little soft, despite strong and able performer.
Now, we’re on today.
The undulating road through the Hopyard is wet with recent rain.
There’s a briskness to the air so the 245/45 run flat all-seasons on the 2011 BMW 550i aren’t as pliable as they could be. Proof comes with the hazard indicator blinking away on the instrument display panel. It’s probably not helping that every few hundred yards or so the 4,343 pound 550i is catching air.
Looming a second or two behind in the rearview is Richard in his damn-near flawless 2000 BMW M5. The shine on the blue sedan coupled with those amber halo eyes seem to wink for attention. Yes, purists note that RD opted to swap the original headlights to the LEDs that were standard issue in the waning days of the e39.
Continued at ... ADLX: Battle Royale: e39 BMW M5 v. f10 BMW 550i/
Last edited by TonyMeister; 11-13-2010 at 05:06 PM.