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LateNight and PolarFox's E60 5-Series Analysis ...

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" Even those with bad taste, know good taste when they see it " - LateNightCable

Here we are again, about to pick the details on yet another well built

automobile. But well built is not what it's about entirely, I'm here to judge whether the car in question has been styled with class and charictor, in keeping with the widely accepted identity of it's given marque.

Right now we feature the brand new, and highly controversial E60 BMW 5-Series sedan. Controversial like just about every new vehicle introduced by BMW in the last few years. The design of the newest BMW cars has been lead by Chris Bangle, current head of design at BMW. And a man many love to hate on a personal level, the degree of which likely never before directed towards a car designer. There is no doubt that his ideas are, to say the least... Different. But most people who concern themselves with automotive design, including many highly regarded designers in their own right, would agree that Bangle is a madman - absolutely consumed by the belief that his ideas are the wave of the future.

Aside from " individual tastes ", there is an indesputable and intangable thing called " good taste ". If something is of good taste, it just is, there is no explainable reason. Like the narrow waist and rounded hips of the female form, or broad shoulders of the male are universally pleasing to the human eye. The reason for this can be led back to perceptions ingrained in the human mind, as to what is physically desirable in a mate. But it is also just the way it is, and applied to any number of things. Home furnishing, fashion, art - and cars.

So, getting back from left field - on the eve of a new 5-Series - I present to you my analysis of this new car, and whether it has been styled with natural good taste, or a mix of something else. -- LateNightCable


The new 5-Series has a destinctly Asian look about it, front and back. Not necessarily bad taste, just not German or BMW. The front end lacks any kind of sharpness, sharpness being is a BMW trademark. The cars of the past had something that this car hasn't - styling cues that will stand the test of time. BMW cars are traditionally designed to stay fresh for a good long time, and always remain good looking. The front design of this new car I predict will look fairly stale before too long, and will require periodic sheet metal updates - something never needed in recent BMW history. The cat eye headlamp covers are a very novel thing. They may look " mean ", but they fail to provide that essential BMW attitude.

The " water fall " creasing, leading from the A pillers, over the hood and to the air dam helps to ground the appearance. The shape of the trademark " kidney " grill is a little soft and non-descript, particularly for a sedan meant to project a dignified and serious image. It looks better suited to a roadster. The bumper maintains the " flat " short overhang effect associated with BMW, at least from the front. But like the headlamps, the hood lacks edge, with it's very rounded and slopeing shape. The round headlamps should be more of a focal point than what they are, they seem overshadowed by those eyebrow turn signals.


The first thing that I notice about this side view is how bare the flanks look. There is no crease or anything through the center to slim out the profile of this noticably beefier car. The lower body actually seems too smooth and integrated, with nothing to draw the car closer to the ground visually. The taillamps are another oddity, the way they slope, making the car look almost as if it could be a hatchback. That and the panel gap combine to make the tail look a little droopy, although not too badly. Thankfully, the lip of the trunk lid has a rather sharp edge, about the only thing on the car that does. This saves the tail from looking completely lost. Again, the curve of the window is a little too soft, if it were more squared, it would tighten up the profile considerably. A little note about the door handles - they are a bit artless.


Who knows what Bangle was thinking when he designed these lights, I have seen concept drawings of the E60, with 30" wheels I might add, and the taillamps looked a lot better in those than here. They actually had a better shape in the drawings. The batwing-ish lights would be a lot more livable if a simple change was made to the lenses. Instead of the clear revearse lamp sweeping up along with the top edge, it would look better if they simply wrapped across horizontally, along the line of the trunk lid. This would keep the lights from meeting the upper body crease the way it is now, but the crease could stand to be placed below the door handles and straightend out anyway. The relatively bare flanks really do seem heavy, which is why that top crease should really be lowered to a more " upper mid-body " position below the door handles. It's not being used to maximum effect. The trunk lid edges are too soft, there is no visual benefit in drawing attention to those, so it would be better to bring them down fully the the bumper, and square them off. Which leads me to the bumper itself. It seems to be a growing trend to make the bumpers disappear into the rest of the body. In doing this though, it takes away the benefit if a visual " break " in the body - upper half and lower half. Which is one reason why cars like this end up looking portly. I think it's the first time in automotive history when that strange flush appearance has been used on a wide scale. It's really not a good thing for a large car asthetically. BMW used dark strips along the sides of their cars longer than any premium automaker, and for more than just protection against dents - it was asthetic as well, and made the cars more slim.

The roof is slightly rounded as well, adding to the pudgy look. As mentioned before, the sharp edge of the trunk lid is greatly needed.


In the end, I think the new 5-Series is done tastefully so to speak, but it's still rather unrefined, or perhaps even too refined depending on how you look at it. The car takes into account style, for better or worse, but not fine proportion. Something older BMWs' had. The E60 does not represent " bad taste ", but it is not really the best representitive of good taste either. It's like a BMW in Samarai clothing. Yes, I think maybe a madman was responsible.

Rating -

Proportions ....... 5 1/2

Overall design ... 6

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While the styling of the E60 may be controversial and divirgent for BMW, the engineering is far less so. The stakes here couldn't have been higher, for years many publications had called the E39 5 Series the most enjoyable to drive car in the world, it represented complete balance on all fronts, and pushed the very edge of performance, handling, and sportiness. The new one hasn't advanced too greatly, but is none the less, a step forward.


<img src=http://www.familycar.com/RoadTests/BMW-745/Images/Engine-md.jpg>

The new 5 series cars are the 525i, 530i, and 545i. The 525i and 530i are both powered by engines carried over from the E39, the 2.5L is a Dual Overhead Cam, 24 valve, inline six displacing 2.5L, and generating 184hp at 6,000 rpms and 175ft/lbs of torque at 3,500rpms. The engine has a very long, flat torque curve which can be attributed to the BMW Dual VANOS system, the most advanced variable valve timing system currently employed on a production car. It can varry independantly both the intake and exhaust valve timing and lift for optimized performance based on a large number of inputs. Just the same, the rather large E60 may be a bit too much car for the somewhat meek 2.5L powerplant. One step up, the 530i is powered by a larger version of the 2.5L, it is no suprise, a 24V DOHC 3.0L Inline six, which produces 225hp at 5,900 rpms and 214ft/lbs of torque at 3,500rpms. This engine has a greater capacity to move the E60, and prdduces acceleration that approaches sporty. Both of these inline six engines are the image of perfectly smooth, and make a nice growl. Most likely, the 2.5L engine should not be offered on the 5 series, it simply doesn't produce enough thrust to do the rest of the car justice, but the more powerful 3.0L provides better than attiquate power.

More impressive though, is the technological marvel under the hood of the 545i, it is the same 4.4L V8 used on the E65 745i, and is a 90 degree, all aluminum 32V DOHC V8, which features not only Dual VANOS, but also BMW's groundbreaking Valvetronic system, which eliminates the throttle body, and instead uses variable valve timing to control engine response, making the engines responsiveness lightening fast and buttery smooth. This engine makes 325hp at 6,100 rpms, 35hp more than the 4.4L in E39, and 330ft/lbs of torque at 3,600rpms, 6 more than the 4.4L in E39. This powerplant makes the 545i a class leader in performance and refinement.

The real news on the E60 is the new M5 debuting for the 2005 model year. This engine is powered by a 5.5L 90 degree magnesium block V10. While details have been sparse and well gaurded on this potent new powerplant, it is rumored to have VANOS3, a new system for varying valve timing, and 10 throttle bodies, one for each cylender will be employed. The heads are aluminum, and an infinately variable full resonance instake is employed. Horsepower figures are said to be between 500 and 550 at over 8,000 rpms, redline is rumored as high as 9,000. Torque numbers are predicted to be between 375 and 425, and the torque band is going to be kansas flat.

Driveline and Chasis:

<img src=http://www.bmw-club.dk/Artikler/SMG/SMG-04.jpg>

The driveline of the BMW 5 Series E60 is a natural progression forward. The ever popular manual transmissions available on the 525i and 530i will be the ZF Type-H 6spd manual transmission, with an optional SMG shift system. The 545i will have the ZF Type-G Manual, which is also a 6spd unit avaiable with the SMG feature. Dissapointingly, these cars do not come with one of Getrag's manual transmissions, which are reknowned as some of the best shifting and most rugged units on the market, while the ZF Manual transmissions aren't bad, they aren't the best, which appears to be a cost saving measure. The M5 will likely continue on with the same Getrag Type-D 226 series 6spd unit it uses now, if not it will switch to ZF Type-G. It is although nice to see the entire 5 series family move up to six speed manuals.

The Automatic transmission available on all cars is the ZF 6 speed automatic unit, which is becomming the standard on almost all luxury vehicles. The six cylender variants will get the ZF 6 HP19, while the V8 powered 545i gets the more robust ZF 6HP 26 variant. This transmission is a dual sun planetary gearset, and is, as i've said at length before, amongst the smoothest, most crisp shifting units made, executing shifts lazer fast and buttery smooth. The low stall torque convertor retains some of the sporty feel, but let's be honest, anyone buying a 5 series with an auto is doing so for comfort, in which regaurd, the ZF six speed auto will not dissapoint.

In terms of suspension, we see the venerable MacPherson strut assymetrically located on A-Arm layout used up front, much like the last 5 series, and the rest of the BMW line, but now it is aluminum intensive. Out back is a standard multi-link layout. The rear multi-link uses a new radical geometry, first used on the E65 which allows for amazingly flat cornering, to the point where it feels as if the car is not even exibiting ANY roll, yet rides with great compliance. Turn in tendancies should be amaingly sharp as well.

The chasis is now using the same aluminum intensive layout pioneered on the Rolls Royce phantom. While the rear portion of the car is a conventional monocoque, the front is an aluminum subframe. The result, a lightened front end, as well as reduced overall weight, allowing this 5 series to be the lightest in well over a decade.

One of the most advanced steps forward is the new ZF Active Front Steering system, which uses a complex gear system, controlled by a computer which is linked into the main computer, which uses data from the yaw sensor, speed, wheel position, and tractions sensors to vary the ratio of the steering, being as quick as 8:1 and extremely high boost for very low speeds (like in parking lots) and as reduced as 22:1 for straight line crusing on the highway (so no sneeze induced lane changing).


<img src=http://www.familycar.com/RoadTests/BMW-745/Images/I-Drive-sm.jpg>

The 5 uses the controversial I-Drive multimedia control interface, which, once learned, does simplify opperatons, but it has proven much less intuitive than was originally intended. The version implemented in E60 will be revised and updated, and supposedly easier to use. Systems like I-Drive are appearing more and more the wave of the future, and look to be much more common, I-Drive isn't bad so much as it takes getting used to.

Also, new to E60l are addaptive headlights, they feature a Bi-Xenon system that uses steering inputs, DSC info, and speed, as well as ambient light conditions to turn the headlights to the path you are on, so the lights point to where you are about to be, instead of just straight ahead.

Performance Data:

The new M5 is rumored to have a 0-60 of between 3.7 and 4 secconds, and a quarter mile in the upper 11 seccond range.

The 545i is reported to 0-60 in 5.6 secconds, rounded out the quarter just shy of 14 secconds.

530i is supposed to run the 0-60 in 6.7 with the manual.


This 5 series is still engineered as well as any sedan in the world, the new version acts to catapult it to the forefront of performance and technology yet again. While some things may take getting used to (I-Drive, Active Steering), once aquainted, they are good things. The new V8 is a great engine, the 3.0L is a well proven and first rate powerplant, and the new M5 looks to be a performance car that only the fastest supercars can catch. Overall, it is a step forward, making this another great 5 series, but for the first time ever, this 5 series will not be a car you can instantly interface with and easily connect to the road through, this five series will take getting used to.


I like it :wink:

850 Ci

when i first saw this car ina picture, i wasnt to fond of it. but today i saw it in real life in the dealership, it is one of teh nicest bmws ot come out since the 8 series. it is soo far away from wut ud expect from a bmw it is bmwish lol. but yea i love it.


yeah, i drove one, it was relatively impressive, it was better than i expected, i'm just not sure i like it better than the old one.


How can you feel that way 850? If anything, Bangle designed cars look even crappier in person than they do in pictures. And they all need huge wheels to diguise their heft.


i'm not sure what you are saying. The Z4 has some presence to it over a photo, a seven series looks better in motion, but the new five looks as you would expect.


What exactly are you 2 doing? Are you reviewing cars? Is this like a magazine article type'o thing?


Yes, it's like a " magazine type'o thing. " I'm an artist, Polar is a tech guy, so we pooled our resources and came up with the LateNight and PolarFox's Analysis series.

Check out the Bentley and Jag ones.


c'mon, i have a minor in mechanical engineering..... almost (mech e is essentially remedial engineering, we just don't tell people that), now i've been demoted to tech guy? wait a minute, maybe that is a step up.

yeah, we review new, controversial, or interesting cars, LateNite has an eye for this sort of thing, and can make sense of all of the feelings we have when we see a car (like, after reading his article on the jaguar, i could describe how i felt about it's design), I make sense of the mechanical end of it (seeing as i am one of the proud few anal enough to care about such things), anyways, yeah.


The Jaguar XJ design analysis is better now by the way, all the pictures are where they should be.


I got some views on the new E60 5 series..

The positive:

I think the new 5 i huge! It has definately grown larger. The design isn't bad after all, it's very sweet... much better looking than the E39. And when I shut the door I didn't hear one single voice from outside, that's true because magazines also tells about great sound isolation from the sound from the road/wheels. This is definately the best car if you don't look at the huge Audi-A8/MB-S/BMW-7.

The negative:

I think only details are negative, such as the very small end of tailpipes also looks too tiny. But that's not a big problem. One problem however is the armrest at your left when you sit behind the steering wheel. The armrest got a very bad shape If you think functionality.. the arm simply falls down---> there is hardly an armrest there, also the material there looks a bit cheap, at least on the car I looked at (plastic). The engine is excelent but got much critics because it got relatively high particledischarge (rototest), but does anyone care?! There are bigger environment issues...

However this is the best looking 5 ever, if only some details would be corrected: tailpipe (the very end of the exhaust pipe), the armrest on your left at the door, the steeringwheel didn't feel too ergonomic and also wouldn't be wrong if some very tiny skirts would exist to protect the doors.. that wouldn't mess the design of the car eighter I guess.

If those details would fall in place the new 5 would be my unbeatable favourite! Strange how easy it is to critisise a favourite, it happens in all areas...


the performance is up, that you can't argue with. it doesn't have the quality issues 7 had at launch, i don't think it is more attractive than E39 (though it looks better up close than in pictures), and overall it is a very good car. I agree it needs bigger tailpipes, also the line of where the bumper meets the fender looks off, it needs to be strainger, or it needs to dissapear. The fact it appears to be smiling bugs me.


all e39 models look dated now.

The new e60 is better in every possible way.


Dated? As in circa 1997? You better ask the girl across the street for a date Reggid, before she turns 20 and gets' all old and wrinkly. :roll:

If something looks " dated " why should that be considered a bad thing? The E60 is going to look pretty dated not too far down the road, something from the " Bangle era ". If a car's essential design is a good one, it makes no difference what era it falls into. Unless you only care about being seen behind the wheel of the newest thing on the market. In which case, it really isn't about the car.

About sound insolation, I can see how this could become so effective, to where it could become a hazard. By attempting to block out all outside noise, you are canceling out one of our most vital senses. Hearing.

Alex K.

Absolutely agree with you, LateNight!

How can, for example, e-24 6-er look dated?!! It's just a beautiful car no matter when it was made!

The problem with e60 is that it may pretend to be whatever modern, original and unlike the others, but all the proportions of its body is like any other car on the market - all the worst modern tendencies are here: its very tall, has enormous trunk and, aside from Bangle's "flaming" ornamentation, looks very heavy and dull, like a bus, not sporty at all.

Talking about "sharp" and "daring" design, they'd better make a car that's, say, 15 cm lower than all competitors, and it will look all sporty and dynamic (like Jaguar was in better times)!

Alex K.

I tried to say, if its gonna be experiment, why not experiment with proportions, just with ornamentaion? They say about car being practical, which strictly defines its proportions, but in this segment practicality is not the main thing - no one's gonna move TVs or refrigerators in the trunk of a 5-series BMW!


Well, I would never have that problem seeing as how I wouldn't buy one. The only BMW that I would buy now that's new would be an M3 or an SUV (family purposes). I think that Audi has taken out the 3-Series, 5 and 7. It's a pretty mugly car. I sat in one.


I think Audi will always be " the other white meat ", it's really the VW connection that is the primary issue. BMW and Mercedes are the main players. Nothing, not even Audi can steal the 3-Series' thunder, for the sake of 3-Series greatness, lets' hope it stays that way.


Well, personally. I would rather have an a4 than the new 3-series. Not sure about an e-class. I would rather have an a6 than a 5-series. And I don't like the new 7-series at all. Same with the 5-series. I would take the a8 in a second. But I would rather have an S-class than an a8. The only BMW I would buy would be (other than an M3 or an SUV/x-series) a 3-series. And I would rather have an a4 or s4. Now the older BMW's are completely another story.


The Audi A4 looks like a nicely painted turd or brick and weighs jus as much as a brick.

It's entirely to ugly and ENTIRELY to hefty to be a Turbo'd I-4.

I mean 3,400lbs for a 4 Cylinder that has AWD is way to much weight.

It's to underpowered for it's price and engine size.

The 3-series looks better but doesn't look all that gr8 either.

There's noway in the world i'd choose NE A4 over a 325ci or 330ci.

Hell there's no way i'd choose NE Audi over a BMW. That's My opinion.



I understand your thinking, but Audi is more Europe adapted where gasoline is not virtually free. Take a look at the powerful diesels (diesel is quite cheap in europe). I just sat in a small A3 with 140 hp and 250 lbs*ft of power! It accelerates like a BMW 323! They took a trip to norway from Finland with an average consumption of 54 mpg. I would never think long before choosing an Audi over a BMW.

btw, topic is the E60. Take a look at the M5 version of it!



BMW has a more uncompromising and sporting character and image, which naturally appeals to americans quite a bit. No one here besides tree hugging hippies and truckers drive diesel here, and BMW's Inline sixes actually get better mileage than their porky turbo I-4 powered audi competitors. What blows my mind is how a big 119" wheelbased 4000lb jaguar XJ8 gets 28mpg on the highway. In finland i understand picking an AWD diesel audi, it's all about priorities, but where I'm at, BMW has the artistry, the image, the performance, and even practicality on audi.

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