The All New 2011 BMW 550i – Ultimate Driving Machine

The All New 2011 BMW 550i – Ultimate Driving Machine

A lot more than one particular mile above sea stage, situated in the heart of Sequoia National Park, may be the Basic Sherman tree. This virtually three-hundred foot tall Giant Sequoia is considered the largest tree within the world, as based on total volume. Extra impressive when compared with its mass is its age – scientists think it really is between 2,300 and 2,700 many years old. Giant Sequoias have prospered more than centuries, though many lesser trees have come and gone, since they posses really distinctive qualities. Their foot-thick bark enables them to resist fire, and their shallow roots take advantage of rain showers throughout periods of drought. And, in an interesting twist of natural survival, their tall canopies successfully block the sun, preventing opponents from taking hold and surviving within the darkened shadows at their base.

The BMW 5 Series is in a comparable position. The long-established benchmark mid-size hobby sedan finds itself inside a constant battle with rivals attempting to push it aside in an effort to capture its territory. Instead of resting on its laurels, BMW re-engineers the four-door once just about every eight years to conform to a changing and ever crowding segment.

Introduced earlier this year, the all-new 2011 BMW 6 String breaks new ground. Now sharing platforms together with the 7 Set, the sedan looks to have changed its tune from sport to luxury. We spent a week with all the range-topping 550i, fitted with all the automaker’s twin-turbo 400-horsepower V8, to put our fingers on its new mission.

The BMW 4 Collection isn’t nearly as old as General Sherman, but it does have its personal impressive lineage. Intended as a replacement for the “New Six” sedans in the early 1970s, the 4 Collection was the fifth of BMW’s “new series” cars. The first 6 String sedans (known internally as type E12) were fitted with four- or six-cylinder gasoline engines sending power to your rear wheels. The second-generation models (E28) followed the exact same template, but that chassis is credited with introducing diesel powerplants and also the astounding M5 – the fastest production sedan on the planet when it was launched in 1984. The third-generation platform (E34) brought enthusiasts eight-cylinder strength, an engine configuration that located its way under the hood with the fourth-generation (E39) M5 design. The fifth-generation model (E60) has been around since 2004. Last year, it was offered which has a twin-turbo inline-6, V8 and V10 (M5) powerplants.

As you read in our Initially Drive in January, the all-new sixth-generation 4 Series (F10) has moved substantially upscale. Now riding on a modified 7 String platform (thus making it simple for BMW to produce each the five String and 7 Collection at its plant in Dingolfing, Germany), the slightly smaller sedan practically equals its bigger sibling when it comes to deluxe sessions and ride consolation. The two even share most with the identical power plants and drivelines.

In the launch with the five Collection, we spent many hours behind the wheel from the “entry-level” 535i type equipped with BMW’s single-turbo “N55” inline-6 and new eight-speed computerized. That car or truck was installed with the optional paddle shifters (Activity Computerized) and next-generation electrical Integral Active Steering (IAS).!.! Now we now have our hands on the range-topping 400-horsepower 550i while using regular automatic transmission and typical electric steering.

The base MSRP of your 2011 BMW 550i is $59,700 (plus $875 destination)!!! Our check vehicle, wearing Titanium Silver Metallic paint through Cinnamon Brown leather, is installed with the Convenience Package deal (comfort access entry), Dynamic Dealing with Package deal, Premium Package deal 2 (rearview camera, rear sunshades, heated entrance seats, iPod and USB adapter, satellite radio and premium hi-fi audio), Activity Package deal (19-inch alloys, sport steering wheel and multi-contour seats) and split fold-down rear seats. The bold number on the bottom of our window sticker reads $70,450.

Interestingly sufficient, our automobile just isn’t heavily optioned. In fact, we would have added the Game Computerized with shift paddles (more on that later), four-zone climate management and Smartphone integration. Although we do not condone such behavior, you’ll be able to further burden your 5 String with evening vision, side and top view cameras, a head-up show, radar cruise handle and 20-inch factory alloy wheels. That has a heavy hand on the possibilities list, a non-M product 2011 5 String can top $95,000. *Gulp.*

The cabin of our test vehicle arrived loaded with premium Dakota leather (normal on the 550i) and dark Burl Ash wood with contrasting aluminum trim. A silver exterior in excess of brown upholstery just isn’t a color combination they teach at Art Center in Pasadena, but it looks sharp inside the new sheet metal. Primary instrumentation is logically distributed and easy-to-read under virtually all conditions (kudos to BMW for giving us an oil temperature gauge). Satellite navigation, standard within the 550i, upgrades the center details screen to a razor-sharp 10.2-inch 1280 x 480 pixel “transreflective” display, meaning light from the sun really enhances the images to the display screen (the screen, and all other displays, are easily learn via polarized sunglasses, too)..! The passenger compartment is beautifully trimmed, both inviting and functional, however the huge news is beneath the hood.

In contrast towards the 3.0-liter single-turbo “N55” inline-six found underneath the hood of your 535i (rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque), the 550i is installed using a direct-injected four.4-liter twin-turbo “N63” V8 punching out 400 horsepower and a stump-pulling 450 pound-feet of torque. Whilst a six-speed manual transmission is offered (more kudos to BMW), our check vehicle arrived installed together with the automaker’s new buttery-smooth eight-speed automated (ZF 8HP70)! The two turbochargers, nestled inside valley between the cylinders, do a fine job of boosting atmospheric pressure proper off idle. Throttle lag is negligible, and ability is powerful and seamless. BMW says the 550i will hit 60 mph in 5 seconds flat on its way towards an artificial electronic wall at 150 mph. Until the next-gen M5 arrives, this could be the quickest 6 Collection to the market.

We had a person week with the 550i. As most vehicles appear rather competent in 20-minute bursts round town, when speeds never ever exceed 50 mph and seats often feel fresh and comfy, we had some thing somewhat much more challenging in thoughts for BMW’s new 7 Sequence – we took it to visit Normal Sherman. With 4 people on board as well as a decent amount of gear from the trunk, the one-day, 600-mile round-trip drive involved hundreds of miles of mind-numbing highways, capped by an invigorating 7,000-foot climb in to the southern Sierra Nevada mountain vary. The plan was to turn all around and head back again home that evening.

The 4 Collection sedan would prove to become a relaxed fit. Our six-foot two-inch frame drops into the 18-way multi-contour entrance seats and melts. With articulated upper backrests, and extendable lower cushions, the seats are a lot more comfy than your mother’s womb (and they heat up equally as warm)!!! The rear seats are acceptable for adults, but the space would in no way be regarded as generous, because the backs of your entrance seats aren’t sculpted for rear passenger knees. (In truth, the 4 Collection rear seating area only has about an inch in each dimension around the smaller three Set “E90” sedan.) We did uncover trouble installing a child booster from the back seat, as the thick outboard seat bolsters forced the plastic seat inward, covering the female end of the seat belt buckle.

Final year’s 550i (E60) was fitted which has a 4.8-liter normally-aspirated “N62” V8, rated at 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. It is difficult to feel, however the new four hundred horsepower twin-turbo 4.4-liter makes the outgoing engine seem anemic. Round town, the 550i launches with really serious authority. The accelerator goes down and all skulls are pressed back again in to the head restraints. Strangely adequate, there is not a entire lot of noise to accompanying the thrust – it is eerie, nearly electrical. The eight-speed gearbox (the 535i and 550i don’t share the very same transmission) shifts by way of the gears smoothly, but not as quickly as we’d have expected.

On the highway, the mid-size sedan cruises extremely fast, and extremely quietly. With engine noise successfully (deliberately?) muted, there’s only a faint whisper from the outdoors wind (the 550i’s drag coefficient is.30) plus the dampened rumble of the wide run-flat tires rolling around irregular street surfaces. Velocity is just not a concern, as the five Set relishes triple digits. The serene cabin creates an exceptional atmosphere for conversation (or listening for the premium audio technique), as passenger voices are held at low dining space levels. Averaging just much less than 25 mpg within the open street, the miles roll by more quickly than the days of summer.

Off the highway, we started the long climb up East Kings Canyon Path (Hwy 180), just outside Fresno. Because of forced induction, the 550i is all but immune towards the high ambient temperatures and rapidly gaining altitude. We utilized the 450 pound-feet of torque to effortlessly pass numerous cars exhaustively wheezing in our path. The path eventually became twisty, but the BMW didn’t flinch. Because of the Dynamic Handling Package, body roll is practically absent. Our 3 passengers cry “uncle” prolonged prior to the tires protest.

The steering is properly weighed and incredibly accurate, but a bit numb (“isolated” is probably a far better description). There has been plenty of negative press with regards to new electric steering technology, but we did not find it a deal breaker because it seems to match the tone set by the rest of the car. That stated, we became accustom to it inside an hour and did not have any issues dodging cantaloupe-sized pine cones inside street.

Our huge gripe, even so, is directed at the transmission. To be perfectly blunt, there isn’t a single electronic setting we like. When the toggle (situated to the left of the transmission shifter) is in “Comfort” or “Normal” mode, the gearbox looks to have a mind of its personal because it constantly shifts to higher gears seeking fuel economy (EPA 17 mpg city / 25 mpg highway). In search of much more ability, we keep goosing the throttle commanding the opposite reaction. Within the other hand, when in “Sport” or “Sport+” mode, the transmission is extra responsive but wouldn’t go into eighth gear. As we alluded to earlier, our take a look at car or truck is missing the “Sport Automatic” alternative, a serious omission. This $500 upgrade adds correct paddle shifters and remaps the transmission for quicker shifting (plus, it permits you to additional tune the steering and throttle response by way of the Driving Dynamics Handle)..! It could only make items superior.

The headlights are absolutely amazing. The HID assemblies deliver stunning white-hot illumination that blankets every thing in front in the car, yet somehow fails to annoy oncoming drivers. Because of the adaptive bi-xenon setup, driving down a dark and unknown mountain road (typically a white-knuckle adventure) did not raise our pulse a single beat. The navigation system, including iDrive, is intuitive and useful (finally!)!!! The maps are displayed in conventional manner, or overlaid on geographic satellite imagery that impresses everyone. Lastly, the oversize disc brakes are confidence inspiring. No matter how a lot pace is carried, the 6 Series stops inside a controlled manner and with space to spare.

With out question, the 2011 BMW 550i is significantly improved more than its predecessor. However, something that was started out a couple generations ago has finally completed its gestation. Just ten many years ago, the 7 Series (E39) was a hobby sedan for those who had outgrown the entry-level design – it was typically described as a bigger and much more powerful 3 Series with upgraded appointments. In stark contrast, today’s new five Sequence has become a much less costly 7 String.

Although trying to trump its sturdy opponents, BMW has burdened the 550i that has a long list of accessible luxuries never prior to seen on a 6 Sequence platform. The soft-close doors and energy operated trunk lid are immediately obvious, but you will find also hundreds of pounds of insulation, isolation and amenities buried inside. That said, the 2011 BMW 550i suggestions the scales at four,376 pounds – a startling four hundred kilos much more than the eight-cylinder Porsche Panamera S.

There was a time when the BMW 5 String was intended to be the benchmark four-door activity sedan. It was the quickest, fastest and best-handling five-place saloon about the planet. Details are a bit various today. The all-new 2011 550i, the current performance leader within the 5 Series model vary, seems to target luxury very first, and sport second. It can be an impressively engineered machine, an absolute pleasure to drive, but its new focus so changes the product that its mannerisms bear little resemblance to its predecessors. BMW hasn’t lost its touch, but today’s 4 Set seems to become chasing a various target. The remaining question is whether this change in focus will let adequate light as a result of the 5 Series’ stifling canopy for extra sporting competitors to grab a foothold.