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2010 2011 BMW 5 Series Forum F10 BMW 5-Series (F10) Forums General 5-Series Sedan and Wagon (F10 / F11) Forum Test Drove 535 & 550
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      05-21-2010, 10:46 PM   #1
exAudiGuy
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Test Drove 535 & 550

Given the reports of F10s hitting US dealerships, I dropped by BMW of Mountain View, CA today hoping to take a look. I managed to score test drives of both the 535 and 550, and wanted to share my impressions. First, as a point of reference, my daily driver is an '07 Carrera S with a manual transmission, so my comments should be taken in this context, i.e. I'm used to very strong acceleration, and a very firm ride.

The cars were as follows:

535 in Deep Sea Blue, with Venetian Beige interior, Anthracite Trim, Sport Package, Premium Package 2. Sticker about $59K.

550 in Dark Graphite (Sophisto) with Oyster/Black interior, Anthracite Trim, Sport Package, Dynamic Handling Package, Sport Automatic Transmission, Head Up Display, Lane Departure Warning. Sticker about $71K.

Starting with the exterior, I think the F10 looks great. A good combo of E39 5er with E90 3er, which I much prefer to the E60 5er. I was a little surprised at how dark the Sophisto was, although the overcast skies weren't helping. It's definitely a shade darker than the Sparking Graphite of the E90. I really liked the Deep Sea Blue. I thought the much maligned wheels on the 550 Sport Package looked fine. I preferred the wheels on the 535, but I wouldn't be dissuaded from the 550 Sport Package by the wheels.

I liked the interior, but had a few "niggles" with it. Overall it's a great place to be, and the seats are very comfortable, with plenty of adjustability. The center console felt a little "high" to me, but knee room in the driver's seat was not an issue. The leather wrapped steering wheel felt great in the hand. The gear selector is "wonky," but if you have a recent Bimmer, you're probably used to it by now. Both cars had Premium Pack 2, so they had the upgraded sound system. I didn't have a CD to evaluate it with, so my best source was an HD FM station. The system sounds good, but I'm not sure I would call it "mind-blowing." I'll be anxious to hear more opinions on this in the weeks to come. My nits with interior center on the look/feel of some of the plastic switchgear. I thought the i-drive controller felt light and plasticky, and some of the other buttons didn't have a very substantial feel. Again, overall the interior is very nice, but the plastics let it down in a couple of places...I'd expect a bit more in a $60-70K car. The oyster/black looks great, but I would worry about the practicality of such a light color. The beige is a little yellow for my taste, so I think I would choose Cinnamon or Black for myself. I'm not a huge fan of the anthracite trim...I prefer see a little more grain/interest in the wood. YMMV, of course. I liked the head-up display more than I thought I would.

Now, the best part is how both cars drive. I drove the 550 first, and the salesman was with me, so this drive was shorter and less agressive. Given this, I can't really comment on the dynamic handling package. I was by myself in the 535, so I drove it longer, and was better able to evaluate the handling. I would say both cars exhibit the "BMW Magic" combination of ride quality and handling. The ride is very comfortable and handling is excellent. I was very pleased with the "standard" calibration of the 535 w/o dynamic handling...I found no vices.

Deciding which engine to buy is going to be tough, but the good news is that I don't think you can go wrong! My time in the 550 was limited, but it's a very smooth, free-revving engine. I wouldn't have minded a little more torque, but my perspective maybe warped as a P-car driver. I was very pleasantly surprised by the 535. It moves the car along very well, and I really enjoyed how it sounded in the higher rev range. The cost/fuel mileage trade-off is going to be a very personal choice for everyone. A diesel would only confuse matters more!

So, I came away very favorably impressed with the car. A couple things I would change in the interior, but I don't think you're going to find a better driving mid-size sedan!

A couple of pics are attached, but the quality is poor as they are from my Blackberry.
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      05-22-2010, 12:55 AM   #2
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HOT!
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      05-22-2010, 06:45 AM   #3
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Thanks for the write up. I'm with ya on the plastic stuff - pet peeve of mine as well. Do you remember which controls were giving you a poor impression?
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      05-22-2010, 09:19 AM   #4
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Thanks for the post. I'm encouraged by your comments on the 535i vs. the 550i as I'm getting the 535i with dynamic handling. Same thoughts on the Oyster/Black -- I liked it enough to get it even though I may have to clean it more often. We'll see.
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      05-22-2010, 09:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim-atl View Post
Thanks for the write up. I'm with ya on the plastic stuff - pet peeve of mine as well. Do you remember which controls were giving you a poor impression?
I thought the controls felt fine and had no complaints overall about the interior. I am used to my 335i and things felt about the same or better
I know when I tested an Audi S4 I had some complaints about the controls, Some of them looked and felt a bit cheap. Same with some of the dash areas. But the car drove great and many parts of the inetrior were really nice.
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      05-22-2010, 10:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim-atl View Post
Thanks for the write up. I'm with ya on the plastic stuff - pet peeve of mine as well. Do you remember which controls were giving you a poor impression?
I'd say most of my issue was around the things on the center console. As mentioned, I would have liked the i-drive controller to have a little more "heft." I also thought the buttons surrounding it felt a little light to the the touch and were loose feeling. A little more force feedback and less side to side slop would have felt better, IMHO. I also thought the same of the release button and operating feel of the center console compartment.

I liked the function of the e-parking brake, but again, the release lever felt thin, as if too strong a pull might break it. The finish of the black plastic is the standard BMW matte, which in a couple of places where there was a large expanse of it, started to feel a little cheap looking. I didn't have any issue with the HVAC controls or control stalks, and I really liked the feeling of the steering wheel.

Some of this certainly has to do with taste...overall the interior looks good and is very "business like" in appearance, but the overall feel is maybe a little "dour" vs. luxurious feeling. I guess I might have liked a little more gloss/luxury in a few spots. I think the lighter wood trims might help a lot in this regard, and I'm anxious to see an interior with those. Most of the pics I've seen, and these two cars, had the anthracite trim, which doesn't really do it for me. I think this may also be why the flat black plastic looks a little out of place, as the anthracite has a very high gloss finish.
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      05-22-2010, 10:39 AM   #7
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Thanks for both your replies.

My X5 has the same "feel" on the ebrake that you described. I always thought the iDrive controller was ok. The surrounding buttons are especially good and have some strong springs that translate to a quality feel if you know what I mean. I'm going to run downstairs and check for side play now

Soon as I find an F10 around Atlanta I'll make a comparison and let you guys know.

Tim
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      05-28-2010, 01:17 PM   #8
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Was the 550i with the sport auto an 8 speed also? I dont think that it would not be however I was not sure since it was a different type of auto.
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      05-28-2010, 02:51 PM   #9
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I noticed the iDrive button feel on the 535i I drove as well. The current (at least "current" in my 2007 E60) iDrive knob feels heavy and soft. The F10 did feel light and plastic, and the turns and clicks were very light and not substantial sounding/feeling.
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