Assembled in Kulim, Malaysia, this car is for the Malaysian market. This is the recent facelift version which came out since 2007. Some cosmetic changes were noted in the grill, head lamps and tail lamps. These changes are not very obvious and unless one is very familiar with the designs of the E60 5 series, it is not easy to distinguish between the earlier 2003 models with this one.
With larger dimensions and more interior space, it’s easy to get in and out of the car compared to a 3 series. This particular model appears relatively ‘basic’ compared to the 530i. It does not have the famed heads up display on the windscreen and there are no gearshift paddles on the steering wheel. These features plus a sunroof are included in the 530i which I had tried out earlier in the year. Nevertheless, all the other standard fittings and safety features (which one can expect from BMW), and the I Drive are here.
The car’s sports leather steering wheel felt slimmer than the M leather steering wheel of the 325i which I preferred. Since the interior panels are of a darker colour, the trim gave a more subdued appearance.
Ignition can be performed keyless. Once you start up, the familiar roar of a BMW engine greets you. With 6 cylinders, the car idles steadily at around 600-700 rpm. This sample comes with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Internal NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) is good. This allows a nice ambience whereby you do not need to increase the volume of the music/radio to high levels to be audible.
Although the car specs indicated lower power output compared to the 325i, the car was responsive and felt like it had more than adequate power to carry its large frame and weight.
When I first driven an E60 (530i), I had to get used to the workings of the gearshift. In the 3 series and as in many other auto cars, once you engage the gear, the gearshift moves into position and locks. Here the gearshift returns to its central position after you engage it. It will lock to the central left position if you engage the Steptronic mode.
This car comes with the Servotronic function. The turning circle on the steering wheel was surprisingly short for a car of this size (ie about 1½ turns to a full turn). The steering also felt ‘lighter’ compared to other BMW models which I had driven.
Since the car had larger and wider dimensions, parking, especially at close quarters was a challenge initially but one should be more proficient with practice. The built in Park Distance Control (PDC) certainly helps with the car’s outer dimensions shown on centrally mounted LCD display in the dashboard.
We took a trip to the East Coast of Malaysia on this car, and it was generally a smooth and comfortable journey. The car had good handling and balance. Although it is equipped with 18 inch runflat tyres the suspension did not feel stiff. Going thru bumps and humps on the road was relatively painless. With a short turning circle it was easy maneuvering the car on the twisty Karak Highway.
Fuel consumption was not bad for a car of this size. We had traveled almost 400km from Kuala Lumpur to Dungun on a full tank, and by the time we reached our destination there was still about ½ a tank left. At night the adaptive Xenon headlights provide ample illumination. The soundsystem is good with good balance of the lows, mids and highs.
The dashboard lights up in amber. The colour of the dashboard is one thing which I hope BMW can consider changing in future as this colour gets a bit bland after a while. Perhaps there is a good reason for this?
UPDATE on 17/5/2010We were given an opportunity to drive the E60 523i SE in our 400 km+ trip recently. It was a timely opportunity to revisit the car as this allowed me to reassess some aspects of the car in more detail which I had missed out earlier. This sampled model was a bit better specified as it has a sunroof plus some minor cosmetic additions compared to the above model. Average fuel consumption was impressive. The car had already travelled about 5,000km. Initially the on board computer registered an average fuel consumption of about 10.1 liters per 100 km which was already quite good and the best reading I have seen so far for a car powered by the N52 engine block. With a combinantion M6 crusing using Steptronic we managed to bring down the average fuel consumption to about 9.6 litres per 100 km. It looks like for the N52 engine block the fuel champion is the E60 523i SE! The car’s soundsystem was adequate and within expectations. There is a bit of thiness in the sound depending on the recordings of the music and this can be easily adjusted by tweaking the bass settings. Depending on the station’s transmitting signals, radio reception was good even when we were inside basement carparks.
|Engine:||6 cylinder in line petrol engine with four valve technology|
|Acceleration 0-100km:||9.1 sec|
Source: BMW Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized BMW dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!
BMW 523i Acceleration (Outside)