LA Times 2011 5 Series Review

Dan Neil at the LA Times ventured to Portugal for the 5 Series launch event. Did he come away impressed? Nah, not really. This is one of the first reviews that does not commend the newest incarnation of the beloved 5er. In his opinion the car is numb to drive, and the electric power steering has taken the feel out of it.

He mentions pouring syrup over gear changes and that the car is everything you want but fun, while we would love to retort or provide some insight we can ‘t just yet- until then you can read his review for a not so glossy view of the F10 5 Series.

Gearheads will palaver over the fact that the new 5-series uses a double-wishbone-like multi-link front suspension now as opposed to the time-honored strut suspension. The change helps stuff bigger brakes behind the wheel and has some positive effects for suspension geometry. By the numbers and by the stopwatch, you can ‘t really fault the BMW ‘s handling and road-holding. The big car is well stabilized by the active anti-roll bar, so the car ‘s body stays relatively flat in corners. At speeds under 35 miles per hour, the Integral Active Steering turns the rear wheels 2.5 degrees opposite of the turn, for a tighter turning radius. Above that speed, the wheels turn in sync with the front wheels, giving the car more authority in cornering.

If owners should ever take the 5-series on the track, they ‘ll find them benign, easy, capable, progressive and slightly boring. And numb as a well digger ‘s . . . let ‘s just say numb, OK? What with the electric power steering, the active this and that, the four-wheel thingy, the car has been sapped of anything approaching vividness and tactility.

If you want to fiddle at the margins with the car ‘s ride and handling, you can, via the Driving Dynamics Control, a system that progressively dials up the adaptive suspension, transmission sharpness, rev limit, steering response and the thresholds of the stability control system.

The settings include Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+, the last of which finally puts some whalebone in the car ‘s corset. It feels tighter and firmer, corners flatter — of course, with an active anti-roll bar in the rear, it ought to — and bites harder. But still, the steering feel is uncommunicative and artificial and just plain over-assisted.

Enthusiasts should definitely wait for the inevitable M5 performance version to arrive. Put some aero skirts on this thing, shoe it with racing rubber. There ‘s definitely a fun car under all this technology.

Can ‘t wait to drive that one.

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  • Mark

    Is this active steering optional? I’ve seen several reviews now about the steering not giving enough feedback, something most BMWs until now have avoided.

  • Mark- Electric power steering on the 5 is standard, much like the E89 Z4. The Integral Active Steering will be a stand alone option and is not packaged with the sports pack though it might be a nice addition with it (the 7 is).

  • Bimmer1

    “Is this active steering optional? I’ve seen several reviews now about the steering not giving enough feedback, something most BMWs until now have avoided.”

    Press cars are usually loaded up with all the options. Everything we go to training the cars are fully loaded even with the options no one buys like active cruise control. Most of the factory demo cars that the big wigs in Jersey drive are also fully loaded.

  • Evan

    I understand the desire to remove power sapping and CO2 increasing hydraulic steering, but if steering feel and handling are at the core of BMW, why bother with that sacrifice?

    I’d pay a little more in engine drag to retain the feel. Take out another 100lbs from the curb weight to make up the difference. They could also use a hydraulic system with an electric pump like the R50 MINI, which has much better steering feel and alertness than the all electric R56 version. I know that electronic whir that is character in the R50 may not mesh-well with a 5er buyer, but I want steering feel!

  • fauzi

    Ahh, a journalist who think he knows more than BMW , knows more than those engineers who spent countless hours perfecting the car and we are supposed to take his opinion seriously. Rubbbish

  • Bob-O

    I love how some pencil neck journalist knows so much. I’ll stick with BMW’s engineers.