2006 BMW 550i
2006 BMW 550i. Click image to enlarge

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BMW Canada

By Chris Chase

The 2004 BMW 5 Series was the second of the company’s cars to wear sheetmetal designed by noted car designer, Chris Bangle. The first was the 2002 7 Series, a car that became one of the most controversial vehicles in the company’s history.

The fifth-generation 5 Series, known internally and to enthusiasts by its E60 platform code, was also controversial not only for its styling but for the amount of electronic controls that the car included, including the iDrive control system that debuted in the 7 Series.

The 2004 5 Series was available as the 530i, with a 225-horsepower, 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder, and the 545i, with a 325-hp, 4.4-litre V8. In 2006, a second version of the six-cylinder was added to create the 215-horsepower 525i, and a 4.8-litre V8 replaced the 4.4 in the 550i; the 530i carried over. Also new was the first use of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system in a 5 Series, available with both six-cylinder models. These cars were designated 525xi and 530xi.

A station wagon model, dubbed the Touring, was added in 2006 as a 2007 model, but was only offered with the larger six-cylinder engines and standard all-wheel drive.

2005 BMW 550i
2005 BMW 550i. Click image to enlarge

The 2008 5 Series got a gentle styling update and two new six-cylinder engines. One was a naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre making 230 horsepower, and used in the 528i, and a turbocharged 3.0-litre six that made 300 horses in the 535i; either could be paired with all-wheel drive. The 550i’s drivetrain remained unchanged.

For 2009 models, the rear-wheel drive 535i was dropped, and all-wheel drive models were newly designated 528i/535i xDrive.

Transmission choices included six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

The M5, the “halo car” of the 5 Series line, was introduced in 2006 and used a wicked 5.0-litre V10 making 500 hp, and mated to BMW’s seven-speed SMG sequential gearbox. The M5 got a six-speed manual as standard equipment in 2007, with the SMG remaining as the option.

2006 BMW 530xi Touring
2006 BMW 530xi Touring. Click image to enlarge

Fuel consumption ratings in 2005 were 11.9/7.3 L/100 km (all figures city/highway) for six-cylinder models and 14.3/8.6 with the V8. The 2007 550i, with its new V8, was rated at 14.8/9.3, and the M5 at 19.9/11.9 L/100 km. The new six-cylinders introduced in 2008 earned ratings of 11.2/7.0 for the non-turbo six and 12.4/7.7 L/100 km for the turbo six, and the 550i’s ratings improved notably to 14.0/9.1.

Naturally, the added weight and friction of the xDrive all-wheel drive system increases fuel consumption – by a little less than 10 per cent. In most models, the automatic transmission actually improves fuel consumption ratings by a few tenths of a litre per 100 km.

The turbocharged six-cylinder used in the 535i appears prone to problems with the turbocharger, as well as troubles with the engine’s high pressure fuel pump (abbreviated as HPFP). Read more about this problem here and here.

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