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Car reviews - BMW - 5 Series - 6-cyl sedan range

Our Opinion

We like
Increased performance, reduced fuel consumption, acceleration, engine note and character, new six-speed auto, 525i Sport value, handling balance, agility
Room for improvement
Extra performance all achieved through higher revs, 3.0-litre's torque output remains unchanged, one fewer gear ratio than equivalent E-class Benz

7 Jul 2005

WHEN the current E60 BMW 530i was launched, no-one complained about any shortfall of power or torque.

With 170kW and 300Nm, it took 7.1 seconds to sprint to 100km/h. It is just as well then that the new 3.0-litre has picked up an extra 20kW (with peak torque unchanged but coming on stream lower in the rpm range) and takes just 6.7 seconds to 100km/h - because otherwise it would be entirely overshadowed by the latest 525i.

BMW's latest 2.5-litre straight six makes 160kW of power at 6500rpm, 250Nm of torque right through from 2750rpm to 4250, and stops the watch at 7.9 seconds.

On the road, it does not disappoint. Long gone are the days when the entry-level Five felt underpowered. This engine is arguably even more of an improvement over its predecessor than the 530i is over its.

Until this week, the 525i was not really a high performance sedan. The six-speed automatic transmission is one ratio down on an E-class but you never find yourself wishing for another gear.

Like every BMW six in history, it loves a rev and delivers a wonderful note - this is a true sports engine.

The car itself is such a honey that you find yourself wondering why you wouldn't choose a carefully optioned 525i over a standard 530i.

Who cares that the extra half litre knocks 1.2 seconds off the largely irrelevant zero to 100km/h sprint time? Not us.

There was a time not so long ago when you really felt the need to choose the biggest six you could get in a BMW because the smaller units served up modest torque too high in the rev range and a peaky feel - great if you were always pulling 4000 rpm-plus, but underdone away from the lights against any rugged old local six-pack.

One carefully optioned 525i is the Sport model which dials leather, 18-inch alloys, M Sport suspension and a multitude of additional goodies into a $96,900 package.

That's about $11,900 short of a standard 535i sedan but only $5K up on an entry level 525i and it was the model we sampled on the day.

Slippery conditions marred the drive program through some of Melbourne's hills but reminded us of how agile, poised and adhesive the latest Five is.

The presence of traction control was welcome but rarely did it intrude on the driving pleasure.

Precise feel through the wheel, excellent brakes with good pedal feel, and a taut but well-controlled ride from the sports suspension contributed to the impression that the Five continues to be a standout car, that the 525i no longer needs to be seen as an 'almost' version, and that the 525i Sport may be the best sedan you can buy for less than $100K.

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