The E60 continues to appeal although it has its fair number of critics. Some of the design cues from the E60 appear to be incorporated into models from other car manufacturers. In this segment the E60 still trails its illustrious rival from Stuttgart. Nevertheless, from my daily observations, it appears more and more drivers are embracing this model.
This sample model, the 525i Sports is the based on the refreshed E60 model that was introduced in 2007. This car is well specified and has almost similar features with the 530i. Since the car carries the “Sports” badge, it comes with the M aerodynamics package, M light alloy wheels, M leather sports steering wheel, sports seats and sports suspension; which lowers the car by 15mm.
Included in this sample model is the iDrive (Navigation System Professional with 8.8 inch LCD screen), DVD Drive, a 10 speaker high fidelity system, Head-Up display and a powered sunroof. As with all BMW cars, the sample model comes with a host of active and passive safety features.
The car interior features the aluminium pentane interior trim with Dakota leather upholstery. This brightens the console and dashboard compared to the 523i which has a darker tone. The full leather sport seats are comfortable, electronically adjustable and offer good support. There is generous legroom for the driver, the front and rear passengers.
As the driver, you’ll get a good view of the front with a slight compressed view of the rear thru the rear view mirror. Since the hood slopes downward, from the driver’s perspective the front of the car appears shorter than it actually is. This is where the Park Distance Control (PDC) become invaluable as is aids in minimizing scratches/dents to the front, sides and the rear.
Boot space is deep and generous but surprisingly the sample model did not offer a split folding rear seat function to fit in longer cargos such as a ladder. The tyres are 19 inch Continental run flats which offered adequate grip with acceptable road noise. Tyres are wider and narrower at the rear (275/30 R19) compared to the front (245/35 R19).
The car is powered by the 6 cylinder 2,497cc in-line petrol N52 engine block. The max power is 218 bhp @ 6,500 rpm and the max torque is 250 nm @ 2,750 rpm. Based on official data, acceleration from 0-100km/h is achievable in 7.9 seconds. In my acceleration test, I felt the engine response was slightly slower than preferred.
Push it hard from a stop and go position, and the car took a while to pick up speed. Gear changes took a bit longer especially from the 1st to 2nd as it occurred near the red line at around 6,000 rpm. Transmission is 6-speed automatic with steptronic. Gearchanges are generally smooth without any jerkiness.
The engine note upon ignition is a pleasant metallic hum and is very refined. The 525i Sports appear to share the same engine block as the 325i Sports based on the engine specifications. Although the former has a heavier unladen weight compared to the latter, this did not seriously affect the 525i Sports’ performance as the car felt responsive albeit with a slightly slower engine response in the initial phase of acceleration.
The M leather sports steering wheel comes with multi-function buttons and will appeal to those who prefer a steering wheel which is ‘light and easy’ to steer. Together with the Active Steering system in place, the car is easy to maneuver and provides precise turns with adequate steering response/feedback. Lock to lock is about 1½ turns.
The car is among the more thirsty BMW’s which I have sampled. The average fuel consumption (combined) based on official statistics is 9.4 litres per 100 km. In the first week of driving , the average fuel consumption was quite high at 14.5 liters per 100 km as per the on-board computer. After running in the car for about 1,000 km average fuel consumption declined to about 13.5 liters per 100 km, which is still on the high side. The car’s CO² emissions are 176g per km.
With the sports suspension in place and the thin 19 inch run flat tyres, ride quality is on the firm/hard side. Although the sample car’s suspension system has managed to dampen some of this, the harshness seemed to be more pronounced at the rear seats. Compared to the 325i Sports which has a similar hard ride, the 525i Sports provided better comfort. On the flipside, the benefit of such a suspension system is that the car was among the best balanced and most stable E60s which I had test driven. Hopefully in the future, the 5 series will come with the option of ‘Adaptive Suspension’ or ‘Adaptive Seats’ to improve comfort.
As with all the other E60s which I had sampled so far, the sound insulation was top notch. The driver and passengers are well insulated from external and engine noise. The car’s 10 speaker high fidelity system sounded a bit flat and lacking in depth. The mids seem to be missing. I usually test the car’s sound system by zerorizing the bass and treble settings to determine the sound reproduction in its neutral state. For this system even with the bass and treble enhanced slightly there was still room for improvement.
The automatic glass sliding/vent roof (sunroof), is well constructed and has its own built-in safety feature. The other day, a piece of cloth covered just a bit of the opened sunroof, and the system detected the foreign object and reversed (reopen) when I attempted to close it. A concern for sunroofs in Malaysia is whether it will leak in a tropical storm. During one of the test days we happened to go through a heavy storm and the enclosed sunroof provided good sealing and there were no visible leaks.
The car’s Head-Up display which essentially is a projection of an LCD image onto the windscreen on the driver’s side is a welcome feature. When the navigation system is activated, the Head-Up display will provide a clear guide with directional arrows and road names. Otherwise, the Head-Up display will show the current speed of the car and will indicate if the cruise control system is being activated. The Head-Up display can also be deactivated if drivers find this annoying and distracting. A tip for those who frequently wear sunglasses when driving, the displayed LCD image on the windscreen can ‘disappear’ if you are wearing polarized sunglasses! Perhaps some brands may not be affected but it pays to test this out if you plan to rely on the Head-Up display for your drives.
The internal and external lights package is impressive. The car comes with Xenon adaptive headlights and an entry area illumination on the external side wing mirrors. The interior reading lights provided adequate illumination for reading at night. So far the champ for the interior reading lights for the BMW cars which I have tested is still the base model E90 320i with the right amount of brightness.
This would probably be among the last E60 models which I will get to sample with the impending introduction of the 5 Series replacement model, the F10 in the not too distant future. Based on the previews, the design of the F10 will appeal to the E39 purists who have so far been reluctant to embrace the revolutionary design of the E60.
|Engine:||6-cylinder in-line petrol engine with Valvetronic|
|Max Output:||218bhp/6,500 rpm|
|Max Torque:||250nm/2,750 rpm|
Source: BMW Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized BMW dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!