2011 BMW 5 Series Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
  • Available turbocharged 6- and 8-cylinder engines
  • Standard rear-wheel drive appeals to driving enthusiasts
  • 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission
  • 550i features a 4.4-liter 8-cylinder engine with 400 horsepowerand 450 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Sport package brings 19-inch wheels and summer tires (all modelsfeature RFTs)

Critical Facts

  • All-new sixth-generation model
  • Conservative styling reminiscent of the E39 5 Series
  • New double-wishbone front suspension
  • Fourth-generation iDrive system
  • Available high-beam control and Night Vision
  • A host of tech options available for those so inclined


 The BMW5 Series is a midsize luxury sport sedan that has been inproduction since 1972. Now in its sixth generation, the 5-passenger 5Series is offered in the United States only as a 4-door sedan, thoughother global markets are offered a 5-door wagon or "Touring" model.(While the 5 Series Gran Turismo shares the samenomenclature, it isbuilt on a modified 7 Series platform.) Slotted in size between thecompact BMW3 Series and the full-size BMW 7 Series, the 5 Series isoffered with a choice of 6- or 8-cylinder powerplants. A unique featureof the 5 Series is the availability of a manual transmission. The 5Series is one of the few models in its class to offer a manualtransmission in the U.S. market.2011 BMW 5 Series

 The 2011 model is an all-new sixth-generation design that hasgrownincrementally in size over its predecessor. While the previous "E60"model carried the infamous "Bangle" rear end-named for former BMW leaddesigner Chris Bangle-the new "F10" model reverts to a moderninterpretation of the earlier "E39" and "E34" 5 Series models-a lookthat is similar to the current "E90" 3 Series. Under the hood of thenew 5 Series is a choice between two turbocharged engines-a 3.0-liter6-cylinder or a 4.4-liter 8-cylinder.

Model Lineup

BMW will initially introduce the 535i and 550i sedan models. They sharean identical platform, but are fitted with different powerplants. Anentry-level 528i model and a high-performance M5 model are planned tofollow later in the year.

 As expected in this highly competitive luxury sedan segment, thenewBMW 5 Series is fitted with a long list of standard features includingpower windows, power locks, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers,cruise control, and automatic climate control. All models are fittedwith the next-generation of BMW's "iDrive" infotainment system (thestandard screen is 7.0 inches with an optional size of 10.2 inches).

 BMW has grouped many popular options into packages. The Sport packageincludes 19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, sports leathersteering wheel, multi-contour seats, shadowline trim (deletion ofchrome), and an increased top speed (155 mph, according to BMW). ThePremium package includes auto-dimming mirrors, ambience interiorlighting, garage door opener, and leather upholstery. The Cold Weatherpackage includes heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rearseats, and headlight washers. Other packages include the Premium 2package, Dynamic Handling package, Driver Assist package, andConvenience package. The options list includes such items as BMW's"Steptronic" 8-speed automatic transmission, satellite radio, fold-downseats, head-up display, and keyless entry.


When it arrives in the summer of 2010, BMW will offer two differentengines in the all-new 5 Series (both share the same rear-wheel-drivepowertrain). An entry-level model, with a less powerful engine, willarrive later this year. All-wheel-drive derivatives are also expected.

The standard engine on the 535i is a new, single-turbocharged,3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that is also shared with the BMW 1 Seriesand 3 Series. The direct-injection powerplant is rated at 300horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard powerplant on the550i is a direct-injected, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter 8-cylinder ratedat 400 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. According to BMW, the 550iwill sprint to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds toward a top speed of 150 mph(models without the optional Sport package are limited to 130 mph, themaker says). The entry-level 528i will have a delayed launch. It isscheduled to arrive with a normally aspirated, 3.0-liter 6-cylinderengine rated at 230 horsepower (similar to the 328i). All 5 Seriesmodels are offered with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or anoptional BMW "Steptronic" electronically controlled all-new 8-speedautomatic.

The all-new 2011 BMW 5 Series offers chassisimprovements over themodel it replaces. Under the skin, the 4-door sedan is equipped with anew suspension design utilizing many aluminum components to reduceunsprung weight and improve the ride, BMW says. In a first for a BMW 5Series, the new model boasts a double-wishbone front suspensionreplacing the traditional MacPherson struts (the 7 Series was the firstBMW sedan to receive this type of frontsuspension-following on the heels of the BMW X5). The rearsuspensionremains a multi-link design. New for 2011 is the availability of ActiveSteering on the rear wheels.

Depending on the model, standard wheels are either 17-inch or 18-inchaluminum alloy. Sport package-equipped 5 Series models ride on 19-inchaluminum wheels fitted with high-performance summer tires. Run-flattires and a tire-pressure-monitoring system are standard on all 5Series vehicles.


All 2011 BMW 5 Series models include a dual front-impact air bagsupplementary restraint system (SRS) with dual-threshold deployment and2-stage smart air bags protecting the driver and front passenger. Sideair bags and a front- and rear-seat curtain-type air bag system alsooffer additional protection. All seating positions feature automaticseat belt pre-tensioners. Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren(LATCH) attachments for infant and child seats are standard at outboardrear seating positions.

The extensive list of standard electronic safety aidsincludesanti-lock brakes (ABS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The DSCincludes BMW's version of electronic brake proportioning, corneringbrake stability enhancement, Dynamic Brake Control, Brake FadeCompensation, Brake Standby, Dynamic Traction Control, and Start-offAssistant. In addition, BMW Assist, BMW's in-car telematics offering,is standard for 2011 models.

Optional safety-related technology includes a back-up camera fittedwith Top View and Side View camera functions. In addition, the 2011 BMW5 Series may also be fitted with Night Vision, Automatic High-Beamcontrol, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, andactive cruise control with Front Collision Warning.


The 2011 BMW 5 Series features an 8-speed automatic transmission,replacing the outgoing 6-speed automatic from the 2010 models. Comparedto its predecessor, the new transmission is equipped with tallercruising gears that deliver improved fuel economy, says BMW. Inaddition, the wider spread of gears (each gear is made for a specificspeed range) allows the automatic-equipped 5 Series models toaccelerate smoother and more quickly across a wide range of drivingspeeds, the company says.

New 8-Speed Transmission: In Depth

Technically, the new transmission is just as light and compact as itspredecessor, so there is no penalty in weight or packaging under thehood. The eight gears are arranged so that no more than two of the fiveclutch packs are freewheeling at any given time-improving thetransmission's efficiency, the automaker explains. The 6th gear is adirect drive (there is no efficiency-reducing gearing between theengine and the wheels). BMW says that this transmission earns aso-called 98 percent "gearing efficiency" across all eight speeds. Thenew transmission is an integral part of the 5 Series model's overallfuel efficiency program, says BMW.

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