CHANGES FOR 2008:
– New, more powerful six-cylinder engines; with them, the 525 becomes the 528, and the 530 becomes the 535
– New Lane Departure Warning system available on 535 and 550 models
– Optional USB Audio Integration
– Six new programmable memory keys for iDrive
– Automatic transmissions use new electronic gear selector
– Styling changes include new glass headlight and taillight covers, flush-mounted grille surround, horizontal trim bar, body sill contour line, rear LED turn signals
– Headlight “corona rings” become daytime running lights
– Two-tone interior door panels
– Window and mirror controls integrated into armrest
For 2008, the 5 Series’ big news is in two new 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engines, first introduced on the redesigned 2007 3 Series Coupe. The 528 gains 15 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque over the 2007 version, and now makes 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The 535 uses twin low-inertia intercooled turbochargers and high-precision direct fuel injection with piezo injectors, for an increase of 45 hp and 80 lb-ft of torque, bringing it to 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. Both engines are available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, at no extra charge (the 535’s stick shift is late availability).
Both six-cylinder models are available in rear-wheel drive, as the 528i and 535i, and in all-wheel drive, as the 528xi and 535xi. The sedans are joined by the 535xi Touring station wagon. The all-wheel system is BMW’s xDrive, a torque management system that switches proactively, powering up or braking a specific wheel before any start to lose their grip.
The 550i and M5 receive the styling and interior upgrades, but their drivelines are unchanged from 2007. The 550i continues to use a 4.8-litre V8 with six-speed manual or automatic transmission; the M5 carries a 5.0-litre V10 with six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed Sequential M Gearbox (SMG) automatic transmission.
Features on the 528i and 528xi models include 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear inner vented brake discs, automatic Xenon headlamps, fog lights, heated mirrors and washer jets, rain-sensing wipers, tire pressure monitoring system, alarm system with interior motion sensor, automatic climate control, cruise control, leather interior, ten-way power heated front seats, power sunroof, heated steering wheel with power tilt/telescopic controls, rear pass-through with ski bag, CD stereo with auxiliary input and SIRIUS satellite pre-wiring, iDrive and Bluetooth telephone preparation. The 528xi adds hill descent control and headlight washers.
The 535xi Touring (wagon) adds a panoramic sunroof, storage compartment package, rear roof spoiler, power liftgate, 12-volt outlet in the cargo area and cargo net.
The 535i and 535xi add adaptive headlights, Comfort Access proximity key, and sport steering wheel.
The 550i adds 19-inch alloy wheels, M sport suspension, M sport exhaust, auto-dimming exterior and interior mirrors, M Aerodynamic package, anthracite headliner, front sport seats with lumbar support, and garage door opener.
The M5 uses 19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires and adds park distance control, power-folding mirrors, twelve-way power seats, navigation system and six-disc CD changer.
The 5 Series provides a wide range for drivers, especially since models can be had in manual or automatic mode, a rare choice among larger luxury vehicles. The 528’s new engine is a beautiful powerplant, but the 535 is simply masterful, with a broad powerband (1400 to 5000 rpm) that provides instant acceleration throughout its range, and with virtually no turbo lag; if you weren’t told the car had turbochargers, you wouldn’t know. While some drivers will want to move up to the 550i’s V8, there really isn’t any need to do so; these six-cylinders provide all the power most enthusiasts will ever want.
The six-speed automatics are worthy of their engines, but the new electronic shifter, first seen on the X5, is not intuitive – almost every other shifter pulls down from Park to Reverse, but BMW’s has you pushing it up – and new owners or multi-vehicle households will have to exercise caution, as it takes a lot to get used to it. The M5, while providing the ultimate in push-into-your-seat performance, is best enjoyed with the stick shift; the SMG all but comes to a stop between shifts on hard throttle, and is better left behind in the showroom.