BMW 550i : the new 2011 ultimate driving machine!
A lot more than 1 mile above sea stage, situated in the heart of Sequoia National Park, is the Normal Sherman tree. This just about three-hundred foot tall Giant Sequoia is deemed the largest tree from the world, as based on total volume. More impressive than its size is its age – scientists believe it can be in between 2,300 and 2,700 many years old. Giant Sequoias have prospered around centuries, even though many lesser trees have come and gone, because they posses really distinctive qualities. Their foot-thick bark permits them to resist fire, and their shallow roots take advantage of rain showers throughout periods of drought. And, in an interesting twist of natural survival, their tall canopies successfully block the sun, preventing competitors from taking hold and surviving from the darkened shadows at their base.
The BMW 5 Sequence is in a very similar position. The long-established benchmark mid-size activity sedan finds itself in a constant battle with opponents attempting to push it aside in an effort to capture its territory. As opposed to resting on its laurels, BMW re-engineers the four-door once each eight years to conform to a changing and ever crowding segment.
Introduced earlier this year, the all-new 2011 BMW five Collection breaks new ground. Now sharing platforms while using 7 String, the sedan looks to have changed its tune from sport to luxury. We spent a week using the range-topping 550i, fitted with all the automaker’s twin-turbo 400-horsepower V8, to put our fingers on its new mission.
The BMW five Series is not just about as old as General Sherman, however it does have its personal impressive lineage. Designed as a replacement for the “New Six” sedans within the early 1970s, the 4 Set was the fifth of BMW’s “new series” vehicles. The initial 6 Set sedans (known internally as type E12) were installed with four- or six-cylinder gasoline engines sending power to your rear wheels. The second-generation models (E28) followed the very same template, but that chassis is credited with introducing diesel powerplants plus the incredible M5 – the fastest production sedan to the planet when it was launched in 1984. The third-generation platform (E34) brought enthusiasts eight-cylinder electrical power, an engine configuration that found its way under the hood of the fourth-generation (E39) M5 design. The fifth-generation product (E60) has been around since 2004. Final year, it was offered with a twin-turbo inline-6, V8 and V10 (M5) powerplants.
As you learn in our Initial Drive in January, the all-new sixth-generation 5 Set (F10) has moved considerably upscale. Now riding on a modified 7 Set platform (thus making it easy for BMW to produce both the 6 Set and 7 Set at its plant in Dingolfing, Germany), the slightly smaller sedan nearly equals its bigger sibling when it comes to luxurious appointments and experience comfort. The two even share most with the exact same powerplants and drivelines.
On the launch of your 6 Sequence, we spent numerous hours behind the wheel of your “entry-level” 535i type furnished with BMW’s single-turbo “N55” inline-6 and new eight-speed automated. That car was installed using the optional paddle shifters (Game Automated) and next-generation electric Integral Active Steering (IAS)! Now we now have our hands about the range-topping 400-horsepower 550i while using standard automatic transmission and regular electrical steering.
The base MSRP of your 2011 BMW 550i is $59,700 (plus $875 destination)! Our test automobile, wearing Titanium Silver Metallic paint more than Cinnamon Brown leather, is fitted together with the Convenience Bundle (consolation access entry), Dynamic Handling Package, Premium Package deal 2 (rearview camera, rear sunshades, heated entrance seats, iPod and USB adapter, satellite radio and premium hi-fi audio), Sport Package (19-inch alloys, sport steering wheel and multi-contour seats) and split fold-down rear seats. The bold number on the bottom of our window sticker reads $70,450.
Interestingly sufficient, our car or truck is just not heavily optioned. Actually, we’d have added the Game Automatic with shift paddles (extra on that later), four-zone climate control and Smartphone integration. Whilst we do not condone such behavior, you’ll be able to additional burden your five Sequence with night vision, side and top view cameras, a head-up show, radar cruise handle and 20-inch factory alloy wheels. With a heavy hand within the options record, a non-M type 2011 7 Sequence can top $95,000. *Gulp.*
The cabin of our test vehicle arrived loaded with premium Dakota leather (common within the 550i) and dark Burl Ash wood with contrasting aluminum trim. A silver exterior around brown upholstery isn’t really a color combination they teach at Art Center in Pasadena, nevertheless it looks sharp inside the new sheet metal. Primary instrumentation is logically distributed and easy-to-read underneath virtually all conditions (kudos to BMW for giving us an oil temperature gauge)!!! Satellite navigation, regular around the 550i, upgrades the center info display screen to a razor-sharp 10.2-inch 1280 x 480 pixel “transreflective” show, meaning light from the sun really enhances the images on the display (the display, and all other displays, are very easily read by way of polarized sunglasses, too).!.! The passenger compartment is beautifully trimmed, each inviting and functional, however the huge news is beneath the hood.
In contrast towards the 3.0-liter single-turbo “N55” inline-six observed underneath the hood of the 535i (rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque), the 550i is fitted having a direct-injected 4.4-liter twin-turbo “N63” V8 punching out 400 horsepower plus a stump-pulling 450 pound-feet of torque. Even though a six-speed manual transmission is offered (more kudos to BMW), our check vehicle arrived installed with the automaker’s new buttery-smooth eight-speed automated (ZF 8HP70)! The two turbochargers, nestled inside valley between the cylinders, do a fine job of boosting atmospheric pressure appropriate off idle. Throttle lag is negligible, and electrical power is powerful and seamless. BMW says the 550i will hit 60 mph in five seconds flat on its way towards an artificial electronic wall at 150 mph. Until the next-gen M5 arrives, this is the quickest five Collection on the market.
We had a single week with the 550i. As most vehicles appear rather competent in 20-minute bursts approximately town, when speeds never ever exceed 50 mph and seats constantly feel fresh and comfortable, we had a thing a little far more challenging in mind for BMW’s new 6 Collection – we took it to visit Normal Sherman. With 4 people today on board as well as a decent amount of gear from the trunk, the one-day, 600-mile round-trip drive involved hundreds of miles of mind-numbing highways, capped by an invigorating 7,000-foot climb in to the southern Sierra Nevada mountain vary. The plan was to turn around and head back house that night.
The 7 Set sedan would prove to become a comfortable fit. Our six-foot two-inch frame drops into the 18-way multi-contour front seats and melts. With articulated upper backrests, and extendable lower cushions, the seats are extra relaxed than your mother’s womb (and they heat up equally as warm)..! The rear seats are acceptable for adults, however the space would by no means be deemed generous, as the backs of your entrance seats aren’t sculpted for rear passenger knees. (In truth, the 4 Collection rear seating area only has about an inch in just about every dimension to the smaller 3 Series “E90” sedan.) We did find trouble installing a child booster in the back again seat, as the thick outboard seat bolsters pressured the plastic seat inward, covering the female end of your seatbelt buckle.
Nevertheless, nobody chooses a BMW 4 Series for interior room – they select it for the way it drives.
Final year’s 550i (E60) was installed having a 4.8-liter normally-aspirated “N62” V8, rated at 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. It is challenging to believe, but the new four hundred horsepower twin-turbo 4.4-liter makes the outgoing engine seem anemic. Round town, the 550i launches with severe authority. The accelerator goes down and all skulls are pressed back again in to the head restraints. Strangely sufficient, there is just not a whole lot of noise to accompanying the thrust – it’s eerie, nearly electrical. The eight-speed gearbox (the 535i and 550i don’t share the same transmission) shifts by way of the gears smoothly, but not as quickly as we’d have expected.
To the highway, the mid-size sedan cruises incredibly quick, and really quietly. With engine noise effectively (deliberately?) muted, there’s only a faint whisper from the outdoors wind (the 550i’s drag coefficient is .30) and the dampened rumble of your wide run-flat tires rolling through irregular path surfaces. Velocity isn’t really a concern, because the 7 Sequence relishes triple digits. The serene cabin creates an outstanding atmosphere for conversation (or listening to your premium audio program), as passenger voices are held at low dining area levels. Averaging just much less than 25 mpg on the open path, the miles roll by quicker than the days of summer.
Off the highway, we started out the lengthy climb up East Kings Canyon Road (Hwy 180), just outdoors Fresno. Because of forced induction, the 550i is all but immune towards the high ambient temperatures and rapidly gaining altitude. We used the 450 pound-feet of torque to effortlessly pass countless vehicles exhaustively wheezing in our path. The road eventually became twisty, however the BMW did not flinch. Because of the Dynamic Handling Package deal, body roll is just about absent. Our 3 passengers cry “uncle” prolonged prior to the tires protest.
The steering is properly weighed and incredibly accurate, but a bit numb (“isolated” is possibly a greater description)..! There has been a great deal of negative press with regards to new electrical steering technology, but we didn’t come across it a deal breaker as it would seem to match the tone set by the rest from the vehicle. That said, we became accustom to it within an hour and did not have any troubles dodging cantaloupe-sized pine cones inside highway.
Our major gripe, nevertheless, is directed in the transmission. To be perfectly blunt, there isn’t really a single electronic setting we like. When the toggle (situated to the left of your transmission shifter) is in “Comfort” or “Normal” mode, the gearbox appears to have a thoughts of its own as it constantly shifts to higher gears seeking fuel economy (EPA 17 mpg city / 25 mpg highway).!.! In search of a lot more power, we maintain goosing the throttle commanding the opposite reaction. About the other hand, when in “Sport” or “Sport+” mode, the transmission is a lot more responsive but wouldn’t go into eighth gear. As we alluded to earlier, our test automobile is missing the “Sport Automatic” choice, a severe omission. This $500 upgrade adds proper paddle shifters and remaps the transmission for quicker shifting (plus, it enables you to additional tune the steering and throttle response through the Driving Dynamics Management). It could only make items far better.
On a positive note, you will discover a few worthy mentions.
The headlights are completely wonderful. The HID assemblies deliver stunning white-hot illumination that blankets every thing in front in the automobile, yet somehow fails to annoy oncoming drivers. Thanks to the adaptive bi-xenon setup, driving down a dark and unknown mountain highway (typically a white-knuckle adventure) did not raise our pulse a single beat. The navigation process, including iDrive, is intuitive and helpful (finally!). The maps are displayed in traditional manner, or overlaid on geographic satellite imagery that impresses everyone. Lastly, the oversize disc brakes are confidence inspiring. No matter how much speed is carried, the 4 Series stops in a controlled manner and with room to spare.
With out query, the 2011 BMW 550i is much improved through its predecessor. Nevertheless, a thing that was started out a couple generations ago has finally completed its gestation. Just ten many years ago, the five Series (E39) was a game sedan for those who had outgrown the entry-level design – it was frequently described as a bigger and extra powerful 3 Collection with upgraded appointments. In stark contrast, today’s new five Set has turn out to be a much less pricey 7 Collection.
Though trying to trump its sturdy opponents, BMW has burdened the 550i using a very long record of readily available luxuries never before seen on a five Set platform. The soft-close doors and electrical power operated trunk lid are immediately obvious, but you’ll find also hundreds of pounds of insulation, isolation and amenities buried within. That said, the 2011 BMW 550i suggestions the scales at four,376 pounds – a startling 400 pounds far more than the eight-cylinder Porsche Panamera S.
There was a time when the BMW 4 Sequence was developed to become the benchmark four-door sports activity sedan. It was the quickest, fastest and best-handling five-place saloon about the planet. Things are a bit various these days. The all-new 2011 550i, the current performance leader within the 4 String type assortment, appears to target luxury 1st, and sports activity second. It is an impressively engineered machine, an absolute pleasure to drive, but its new focus so changes the product that its mannerisms bear little resemblance to its predecessors. BMW hasn’t lost its touch, but today’s 7 String appears to become chasing a various target. The remaining question is whether this change in focus will let adequate light by means of the 4 Series’ stifling canopy for extra sporting competitors to grab a foothold.
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