Car & Driver Places the New 5er Last in Comparison


The unthinkable… BMW completely redesigns a car and it promptly gets beat by its two key competitors in a major magazine. It ‘s hard to believe but according to Car and Driver the new 535i is simply not as good as the new Infiniti M37 or the aging Audi A6.

What do we think? While we ‘ve driven the new 550i (you can see Michael ‘s review here) we have yet to get any seat time behind the wheel of the 535i so we ‘ll withhold judgement. Of course this all presupposes that you have respect for C&D.

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  • Adam

    Well I would love to know on what basis they reached that verdict, especially when basically every other automtive magazine has given it five stars over it’s competitors. Furthur than that, Top Gears Jeremy Clarkson absolutely loved the new 5. Everyone can have an opinion but this C&D test was just bull. I stopped reading Car and Driver partly because of their no common sense journalism, this comparison only reinforces that.

  • Drill

    I lost all interest in C&D after their coverage of the 1M… sorry, 135is -/

  • I have not read the article. But it seems to me the 535 is not the correct model to pit against those two cars? Wouldn’t the 550 be more appropriate or apples to apples? Obviously I’m a tad BMW biased, but it sounds like a ploy to sell magazines and nothing more.

  • Brian

    Test drove the 535i in Miami last week; C&D is dead on about the bad steering. There is very little feedback from the steering wheel. There’s something about feedback that really changes your whole perception of the vehicle.

    The rest of the car is obviously beautiful and great, but they should make a NAV standard for the class.

  • Al

    Well although I am not a big C&D fan I could agree here. The new 5 series is a re-modded 7 series and albeit the E60 design was controversial, the new F10 design is flat out boring. BMW is losing its way back to middle of the road. The new 5 is too big and too heavy and too ugly. I agree and the new Infinity M is fantastic.

  • Michael

    If it isn’t the 3-series, C & D doesn’t like it. Nothing new there.

  • Daniel

    BMW really needs to stop using electrical steering. From my understanding it’s cheaper and generally more reliable, but it’s hampering BMW’s reputation of having some of the best steering in the industry. Obviously it only affects a small fraction of its customers, but it’s already beginning to hurt its image by journalists and BMW is a company that relies heavily on brand reputation and positive feedback from the media. Sometimes I feel like they’re losing focus on who they are. Cars are becoming way too heavy and more luxurious, while getting less sporty. Mercedes is making a huge comeback and Audi is continuing to catch ground, and now BMW doesn’t know what to do. I’ve driven and loved bimmers my whole life and I hope they can remember what made them the envy of all automakers.

  • nickmini

    Let’s be honest with C&D: what you paid is you what you get.

  • Joe

    Motor Trend FTW!!!!

  • Bob

    I test drove a 535i at one of the driving events here in New Jersey last month. I was highly disappointed with the feel of the car. I agree with Brian’s comment above – no feedback from the steering. In fact, I found it floaty, and the wheel seemed to shake some. I didn’t feel as confident having it dead center – it took too much wheel movement to get it there. Strange.

    Another shock was the rattling of plastic inside. The car is gorgeous, but for 50K starting, there shouldn’t be all the plastic rattling I heard coming from the vents and back seat area. Not happy, BMW!

  • mellowmcs

    test drove the 535i yesterday and yes the steering is very over boosted. even in sport mode. sport + didn’t seem to make much difference either. however as the speed increased (freeway) it felt better as far as the assist level goes.

    in the comfort mode I had a hard time feeling the road through the steering wheel. sport mode was better but not what I would call great. my old e39 530i was far superior imo. i would be driving this car in sport or sport+ mode 99% of the time.

    the car i test drove (alone for 30mins) didn’t have any rattling at all but i didn’t like the lack of induction noise and the lack of exhaust sound. of course i understand that it’s a higher luxury car but in my old e39 when i got on the throttle i could hear that wonder sound of the m54. no so with the n55 in the 535i.

  • I read the article when it came out and I was surprised too. As I read it they really only dinged the BMW on the electric steering. What I have always found interesting about that kind of review is that they’re talking about which car would have best appeal if you went to your local dealership and test-drove all of them. While this is a ‘buying decision’ metric I would think things like the company’s reputation, market share, the expected longevity of the purchase, etc, etc would be more important to the average car buyer. BMW aren’t stupid and I expect they’re not worried / the 5-series has a strong market and will continue to. It would be interesting to see which of these three cars is more appealing as a used car in 5 years or in 10. I’d bet on the 5-series. Of course Car-and-Driver aren’t as interested in this.


  • Eliot

    Honestly, who cares? I lost respect for most of the American auto magazines years ago when they got so obsessed with points and ridiculously convoluted graphs and charts.

  • chas58

    The low review was solely rated on the car’s steering.

    We know that BMW can make best in class steering systems, yet for decades they often bring out numb vague over boosted steering systems and the “fix it” a year or two later.

    I can’t blame C&D for getting tire of this pattern with BMW. I wonder if the German home market cars have this problem, or if it is something specially targeted to American drivers.

    BMW does seem to be going through an identity crisis, partially moving away from “the ultimate driving machine” to the ultimate luxury machine. Weight, technology, and ultimate horsepower do not have a lot to do with what makes a car fun to drive for me. Makes for a nice coddling luxury sedan though.

  • jayparry

    wow old news. I got my new C&D after this one in the mail already….

    I think in general the basic luxury version is less sporty, while a sport package/msport/m5 version will be more to the enthusiasts liking

  • Evan

    I agree. Not surprised by the 3rd place finish after driving the new 5er. I went to the driving event excited for the new F10. I think it is very good looking, and the interior is gorgeous, leaps ahead of the E60. Then I went down the street- the steering feel is absent. Sport makes it heavier, but not more communicative.

    I’m terrified of electric steering in the 3er. If the F30 adopts it, it better feel just like the E90 (or even better, the E36…) or BMW should just offer they’re perfect, responsive hydraulic rack. I’d pay for it as an option and take the fuel economy hit. I drive BMWs because they are unbelievably responsive and engaging at the helm. I pray they don’t go astray further.

    I’ve had the same complaints with MINI- after ditching the R50/53’s electric driven hydraulic rack, the R56 lost a ton of steering feel. They all still handle well. But the communication is lost.


    If you want better fuel economy, ditch a few hundred pounds from the vehicle. Just keep our steering feel!

  • Max

    Unbelievable!! The F10 is a truly succesor of the legendary e39.C&D Editor needs to rethink what kind of writers and tester they have there…..

  • Will

    Autocar also complained of steering feel in the 520d:

    I concur with Evan: bring back the hydraulic rack, dump more weight. The new 5 weighs as much as the new A8 and new XJ (both use extensive aluminum, sure, but in the case of the A8 which incorporates all-wheel-drive…COME ON BMW!)

  • vince

    I agree with the previous comments concerning the over boosted steering. I test drove a 550i in Miami and was very disappointed with the lack of feeling in the steering. It felt like the sloppy steering Cadillacs of old! It took about 50 yards and one turn for me to tell the salesman that I wasn’t interested. Having owned an E39 540i sport there was no comparison. The quest for its replacement goes on.