LA Times: “BMW 535i: Everything you want, except fun”

5-series | February 25th, 2010 by 54
2011 bmw 5 series photos 3136 750x500 LA Times: BMW 535i: Everything you want, except fun

After many positive reviews that at times turned into controversial articles, the new BMW 5 Series receives a mildly negative review from LA Times.  As …

2011 bmw 5 series photos 3136 654x436 LA Times: BMW 535i: Everything you want, except fun

After many positive reviews that at times turned into controversial articles, the new BMW 5 Series receives a mildly negative review from LA Times.  As always, each reviewer seems to be focusing on different things and there is no overall standard scale when it comes to test drives. While some of us enjoy an ultra-luxurious comfortable car, there are still plenty out there that place their final judgment call based on….let’s say performance, the driving thrill.

So, let’s have a look at this review.

“Consider what this fact suggests about 5-series buyers: These people are buying the sedan because of its size — comfortable but still fairly intimate — and because of what the Germans love to call “sportivity.” These buyers also yearn for the cutting-edge technological spritz that comes as standard equipment in the flagship 7-series, the next segment up, and are willing to pay extra to get it.

In other words, these are people who want everything in BMW’s larder, and want it in a leaner, more lithe package. With the new 5-series, they’ll get it.

Active roll stabilization; electronic damper control; four-wheel steering; eight-speed transmission; a new twin-scroll, single-turbo 3.0-liter in-line six putting out 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque (or a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 with 400 hp, in the 550i); new robotic parking assistance; head-up display; night vision; stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, which will maintain a following distance in traffic and slow to a stop, then start rolling again, just like traffic on the 405; and roughly 8 million other acronymic systems, gadgets, gizmos and flight surfaces loomed to the car’s high-speed cerebellum.

But as a strange little rock goblin with big lips once reminded us, you can’t always get what you want. With the 5-series you get everything you want — except fun.


The new car has the singular advantage of succeeding the infamous (E60) generation 5-series, which was comprehensively weird-looking, as if it had been styled in a soft-serve ice cream machine. So comparatively, it’s a Raphael. I’ll grant that the new car grew on me in the two days I spent with it and, further, that it looks better in daylight than it does on some showroom turnstile or in photographs.

But do I want to have this car’s baby? No. My chastity is all too secure.

Inside, the car is just about perfect. I’d have to say BMW currently offers the best interior design of any German car company. The instrument panel comprises a “black panel” electronic display — only the four key gauges are illuminated unless the car needs to throw you a warning light of some kind. My test car had the brilliant 10-inch navigation display in the center console, which is spectacular. And the whole cabin was wrapped in premium materials — aluminum, wood and leather — in a great gestural flourish.”

Full article

54 responses to “LA Times: “BMW 535i: Everything you want, except fun””

  1. Ted Spahr says:

    If I wanted fun…. I’d buy a 1er or 3er… The 5 series is a serious car, a business man’s car.

  2. burress says:

    business men drive S class……successful ones that is ofcourse

  3. viper says:

    His problem seems to be with the active steering, which is consistent with every other reviewer. What he fails to mention however is that this is an optional extra, and a pricey one at that. Most reviewers advise not to option it, he ignore that it is an option. Shame that he offers complete authority after testing one optioned model. The other criticisms; the auto gearbox is too smooth. Right, guy go get the rest of your office their coffee.

  4. wazon8 says:

    What’s wrong with this guy? He recommends M5 F10 to someone who is interested in 535i F10!!! From the most of potential customers of 535i point of view, this advice is pointless. I bet that it’s really unusual situation if someone faces a dilemma whether to choose 3.0 litre 5-er or above 4 litre M5. If there is such dilemma, it usually concern high end 550i and M5. I don’t even ask what will the price difference between 535i and M5 be. Where is this guy’s rationality?

    In other aspects, I totally agree with viper (sic!). Even if smoothess of gears changes could make someone feels remoted from car, it’s only matter of time to used to such gearbox charateristic and in end – to enjoy it. In fact, I was surprised by the consequnce that he derives from the smootheness of gearbox, since the most important factors that make someone feels connected with a car is steering and engine responsiveness, well ballanced chassis and decent suspension (which – according to other journalists – are superb in brand new 5-er) – all these things that make you know what expect from the car and thing that shorten a time of reaction.

  5. joe says:

    finding exceptions is part of his job, poor guy just trying to his job, however in this case he s not doing it well

  6. Bryce says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the premise of the article. He’s saying the same thing that people have been saying on these boards since the car was first unveiled: BMW is playing it safe. It should come as no surprise that ‘safe’ style is not going to be a hit in Los Angeles.

  7. joe says:

    in this financial climate i would call it the survival of the fittest, not playing it safe.
    5 series fans want different things from their car and BMW people are well aware of that. i think they are doing their best to keep everyone happy and still make profit in this environment.

    • Bryce says:

      BMW aficionados are still going to buy BMWs. I just don’t see this car as having the clout to grab market share from competitors. I personally prefer this 5-series to the E-Class, but BMW is no longer significantly nicer than what Mercedes is designing. In my opinion, Mercedes is looking more and more sporty while BMW is getting less and less sporty. I feel like I’m watching the downfall of BMWs Motorsport heritage.

  8. Alan says:

    You are all wrong the 5er especially the M5 is the car for anybody a boy , girl , bussiness man , even presidents … whatever… because of look which is sporty and luxurious and as in the article the best interior in German manuf. what is better than the german manuf. and from a comfy . luxury ….. sedan just with the M button you turn it into the quickest sedan and maybe faster than many other cars . Generally BMW’s (Handling , Acceleration ) is the best and that is the most important thing for track races so if you lost to another car in a straight line have another in a road full of corners and you’ll see what BMW can do .

  9. Laszlo says:

    GUYS, read the story again. He says everything feels perfectly balanced and smooth, no complaints on each elements, but the whole car overall feels boring.
    It is becoming an appliance not a ultimate driving machine. Going to Mercedes Benz category instead of keeping things wild and fun. BMW has been always different but as it looks like they turning the looks back and loosing the FUN attitude.
    At least the dumb looking E60 was fun to drive and never failed to impress me with the boy racer attitude. Ugly to look at but the E60 is/was a great car to drive.

    The future will be more boring cars, and eventually the cars will drive itself. Its just a matter or time. They are already park them self, so it is coming soon. I predict that by 2020 somebody will come out with a car that can drive itself without driver aid.
    Sad, but this is what people want. Few years ago I had a chat with a bunch of 13-15y/o kids about cars. all they wanted was a car that would drive itself so they can play playstation/x-box whatever inside, chat, text, blog, whatever their favorite communication.
    When I asked them about the actual driving, they said the games are good and realistic and safer then playing it real. They were absolutely not interested to learn to drive a stick shift for example.
    This is the future and the makers are getting ready. These kids are now in driving age and the newer generation will get their input from them. Imagine that !!!

    • wazon8 says:

      The problem is that most of journalists said that this 5-er was even more fun to drive than the previous one, and that it was superb in all aspects starting from handling (due to better ballanced chassis and longer wheelbase than E60) and ending on performance of engines. The only reason why this guy complaint on fun was active steering, which is only an expensive option that nobody has to buy!!! Without this, you can most probably get the car that offer more joy of drive than E60 did. I think that you should read this review more carefully and find the reason of reviewer complaining, because his statement doesn’t apply to all avaible configurations of 535i, although he wishes it would.

    • XC says:

      Let those kids learn about sex, girls and driving stick shift, get a girlfriend, marry, have kids, work commute, pay, pay and pay… and they will sure a appreciate to drive a fine tuned machine on a sunday morning…

    • Alan says:

      Wrong . Kids love Ferrari … Supercars … and thats all it needs to be said

    • Daniel H. says:

      Im a 15 year old kid myself . I can say that those people you talk to will get Mercedes Benz, The confortable easy-driving car with no fun in it because they don’t realy want to drive, they just need it to get somewhere. I would get BMW or maybe an audi because they are fun to drive without all that techy stuff.
      Im all in for Manual Tranny.

  10. Jordan says:

    this review is a bit ridiculous!

    but i do agree with him that BMW does now have the best interiors in the German car scene…. bar none! they are very nice :)

  11. Pat Ryan says:

    bmw is cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  12. Nizer says:

    Sorry but I’m with this reviewer. The whole car has become too anesthetized. The owners of this car are buying it first as a sports sedan and only secondarily as a luxury sedan. BMW continues to skew towards luxo-barge territory, increasingly reserving their sporting heritage for the M brand.

    Drop 300-500lbs off this car, edge up the design, and boost the inline-6 to 375-400hp. Now I’m interested.

    • auday says:

      BMW fans are so religious about it that any negative comment is considered offensive. I haven’t driven the car myself but from the current trend I’m not surprised by the review.
      BMW is going soft that’s a fact, it might still be a way better driving machine than the Mercs but Audi is getting better by the day and if BMW keeps dropping the ball Audi might be the new fun machine soon.
      Let’s hope the M cars will keep the torch, but it seems that even M cars are being softened as a mainstream brand for people who care more about the stereotype of power attached to the M Brand and HP/Acceleration numbers with no regard to the response, feedback, and involvement.

  13. A# says:

    My problem here is BMW makes the perfect car and people complain. This car offers you the ability to get wild should you find the need to.The audience for this who wants a refined yet sporty beast. There is no way you can associate BMW with the word boring. This editor must be out of his mind he’s trying to impress someone with this review ?

    He’s not even testing the top tier yet he’s complaining, half the cats complaining about fun driving will barley crack 40mph on a given day. You are no Mario Andretti or Stig GTFO of here. Knock it off.

  14. A# says:

    And for all of the people chanting M5 I am going to need for you to start listing your profession because in all honesty i know you cant all afford a F*#)@ M5 thought its alright to dream but lets be real.

    – Systems Architect

  15. A# says:

    535 or 550 i want one of these in my Garage period.

  16. Gord says:

    I would recommend the reviewer test the new M5 when it comes out. :)

  17. vasanttes says:


  18. Loris says:

    For the way he speaks about E60 I don’t think he’s a great fan of BMW….

  19. ILYA says:

    It has nothing to do with fun or business men…..Real men drive BMW’s…..end of story

  20. Tom says:

    Dan Neil has always had something against BMW’s. He and Clarkson will never like a BMW no matter how it’s made.

  21. BMW Sales says:

    EVERYONE just read Car and Driver’s new 5-series article. Its marvelous.

  22. Dannerboy says:

    Big deal. So one review said the the F10 is no good? It’s not a blanket dismissal anyway. The only true way to find out if a car is good or not is to test it out yourself. Reviews are subjective, the only review that really matters is your own.

  23. Babken says:

    Well, another stupid reviewer who makes conclusions not having driven the automobile. Maybe he sat inside the new 5er and was charmed by the interior. But he surely didn’t drive the car or he wouldn’t say such an idiotic thing as the car provides everything except fun.

  24. badger says:

    In a way, hes right. Cars these days are so packed with technology and takes away the driver pleasure.

  25. efoza says:

    Well with the 5 series GT sales way above what people like this LA times man’s thinking and the GT becoming a car of choice for people who want to be different, I would not take this man’s words very seriously. He appears not to be perfected as a human being so his comments about this perfect machine are consistent with his own being.

  26. Sounds like these motoring journo dudes don’t know what they want! One minute more, then next minute less refinement!!! The 5er is for a specific market which is somewhat more mature hence the badge “executive” saloon. Sure the M5 gives the execs the ability to enjoy the ultimate toy but the 5er is not the 3er… This LA Times dude needs to be quartered and hung out to dry…

Leave a Reply