Here is an excerpt from their review:
“Ultimate,” as an adjective, means “last or last possible, final” according to the Oxford American Dictionary. Of course, BMW’s advertising wizards were thinking about “ultimate” as a noun (“best achievable or imaginable”) when they wrote “The Ultimate Driving Machine” tagline.
The adjective applys to the E39, the BMW 5 Series now two generations old, sold here from 1996 to 2003. Like the smaller, less costly 3 Series that made the brand the envy of every other premium automaker, the E39 offered the right balance of suspension compliance, sharp handling, and crisp steering. For its feel, feedback, and precision, the E39′s steering became a benchmark for BMW’s competitors.
Turns out the E60 was the ultimate 5 Series to come with a strut-type front suspension, used on BMW sedans since 1965. Like the ’09 7 Series, the ’11 5 Series switches to the multi-link front suspension first used on the second-generation X5 crossover utility. It has an upper lateral A-arm, with double-pivot lower arms for three links per side. BMW also offers a Sport Package plus Adaptive Drive, which includes the 7 Series’ and Z4′s Driving Dynamics Control. In the 550i, it includes Dynamic Damping Control combined with a 10-mm lower suspension, and Active Roll Stabilization.
Unlike too many driver-controlled adaptive damping systems, the 550i’s transmits noticeable changes in road surface harshness as you cycle through the four settings. Whatever magic BMW performed to balance ride and handling on older 5 Series models hasn’t been lost with the switch to the multi-link suspension.
Subjective driving feel bears this out. The 550i is quiet and smooth at quickly reached highway speeds, then feels too big and heavy to negotiate canyon roads with tight, fun corners. And while the turbo V-8 is strong and makes the right kinds of noises, its power delivery isn’t as linear as BMW’s naturally aspirated engines.
We’re more taken with the Adaptive Drive. You can feel the difference among its four chassis modes, with “a noticeable step increase in harshness on choppy roads,” according to one editor, who found it one of the quietest, smoothest cars extant at highway speeds.
Read more at MotorTrend