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A KINDER, GENTLER BMW

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Aug 22, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

A KINDER, GENTLER BMW

By JOHN GRAFMAN

It’s a cold morning along this empty German road - as picturesque as can be. The path is densely tree-lined, with long, sweeping bends. Absolute perfection. Built for maximum velocity, this BMW M5 is capable of speeds just under that of most personal jets. All of this seems too good to be true. As it turns out, I’m actually motoring down the San Diego Freeway in the new BMW 525i, but in my head it’s the M5 on the Autobahn. My right foot does notice the difference. Once up to speed, the 525i has little trouble maintaining a steady cruise. But to label this as the ultimate driving machine is a stretch.

While the BMW does offer refinement in drivability over many other cars, the 525i simply doesn’t out-perform in a way many other BMWs can. A quick stab at the throttle doesn’t create anything close to a head snap. There will be no Fonzie like moans of “whoa” being uttered here today. This is a mismatch that can’t be forgiven. The 525i’s engine is just not able to move a car of this size and maintain the image that BMW has crafted all these years. While striving to comply with important CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) requirements, this motor is only momentarily saving a few dinosaurs from being turned into go-juice. Mark my words, we will use every drop of petroleum we can find to power our vehicles, whether that is today or tomorrow or some point in time down the road. Will this make car make any difference in the global fuel supplies or anybody's wallet? Probably not. If miles per gallon is a major concern, buy a Prius. If one desires a performance sedan, BMW is the name of the game, with the notable exception of this 525i.

If the 2.5-liter variation of the 5-Series were substantially less expensive, perhaps the 525i will have a reason to be. Again this is not the case. The sad part is, overall, the 5 is a rather nice car with just a few misgivings. Most noticeable sore spots are the infamous iDrive, the driving position, and awkwardly placed window switches - all of which can stand an improvement. The iDrive does become less of an issue the more time one spends behind the wheel. It nonetheless is still two steps forward and one big step back in the operation of nearly all its functions. The seats just don’t seem to conform as well as other manufacturers’ products with regards to drivers who are short in stature. The odd placement of the driver’s sill-mounted power window switches function best if the driver’s hands were mounted on opposite arms. They reside at a funky angle and too far from the armrest.

While these flaws area nuisance, the overall car is still a work of art. While the exterior design is break from the conservative sedan of yore, it appears still modest in character as compared to the 7 series. Now that Bangle’s seven has broken the ice so to speak, the 5 comes off as fresh and easy to live with shape. Again the interior is what the smart buyer would be looking for in materials and quality. The design shares the sweeping scalloped shapes from the exterior effectively. As stylish as the interior is, it does get knocked down a notch or two due to the aforementioned issues. However, the tactile feel of the buttons, knobs and activation of covers are worth noting as being pleasingly gratifying in their operation. The 5 series excels in aspects that other manufacturers fail to notice. As so much good is part of the 5, it’s a lot easier falling love with the 525 if going quickly isn’t high on your priority list. So why the 525? Think of this not as a less aggressive Bimmer, just the low carb version.

For more info please check www.bmwusa.com

SPECIFICATIONS Price: $47,070.00 Engine type: DOHC inline 24-vavle 6-cylinder, Double VANOS steplessly variable intake and exhaust valve timing Horsepower: 184 @ 6000 rpm Torque: 175 lb.-ft @ 3,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / rear-wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed STEPTRONIC with Adaptive Transmission Control, selectable Manual and Sport modes Suspension: Front: Struts, double-pivot lower arms, coil springs, twin-tube gas pressure shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, aluminum suspension system and subframe Rear: 4-link Integral suspension, coil springs, twin-tube gas pressure shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, aluminum suspension system and subframe Wheels and tires: Front: Light weight forged alloy 16 X7, Optional (OZSP) cast alloy 17 X 8, 225/55/16 V-rated all season Optional (OZSP) 245/45/17 W-rated run flat performance Rear: Light weight forged alloy 16 X7, Optional (OZSP) cast alloy 17 X 8, 225/55/16 V-rated all season Optional (OZSP) 245/45/17 W-rated run flat performance Brakes: Front: Disc ventilated, 12.2 in (310 mm) diameter, 0.94 in (24 mm) rotor thickness Rear: Solid, 12.6 in (320 mm) diameter; 0.79 in (20 mm) rotor thickness Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including, Dynamic Traction Control, electronic brake proportioning, Dynamic Brake Control and corner braking stability enhancement Overall length: 190.6” Overall width: 72.7” Overall height: 58.0 Curb weight (lbs.): 3,450 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 19/28 Top Speed, mph: 144 0-60 mph: 8.2

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