Edmunds: 2011 BMW 535i First Drive “Bigger, Yet Better”

5-series | January 22nd, 2010 by 21
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Ready for another review? This time, Edmunds InsideLine test drives and reviews the 2011 BMW 535i. Before we let you jump into the review, allow …

Ready for another review? This time, Edmunds InsideLine test drives and reviews the 2011 BMW 535i. Before we let you jump into the review, allow us to share their last paragraph with you:

“When we first saw the 2011 BMW 5 Series, the Munich executives told us that the base price of the 2011 BMW 535i would stay the same as the 2010 BMW 5 Series, which has a base price of $51,250.

Well, maybe it was the intoxicating Portuguese sea air, but these same execs have just told us that the decision has been made to price this new and improved 5 Series below the outgoing model. Are we looking at a possible $49,999.99 base price for the 2011 BMW 535i? Wait and see.”

If this indeed turns out to be truth, then BMW has a winner in their hands.

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Hit the jump for the review…

But, as we discovered on the 13-turn, 2.6-mile track at Estoril, a former Formula 1 circuit, there is no substitute for the fantastic ZF six-speed manual transmission that comes as standard equipment for the 5 Series when you want the perfect gear and revs at every moment. Such a choice would place you among the elite 5 percent of all 5 Series buyers worldwide who don’t care much about resale value but do really like to decide all matters when it comes to shifting.

Tracking the Changes
Most of our time with this fairly heavily optioned 2011 BMW 535i involved dashing around the coastal hills in the rural region around Lisbon. We had 245/45R18 96Y Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GTs under the fenders along with most of the items from the Sport package.

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The combination of BMW’s new four-wheel-steer tech with electric-assist steering felt superb throughout all of the hundreds of quick left-right-left maneuvers we negotiated at speed. We preferred the Sport mode in the DDC, especially the ability to make customized modifications within that mode through the fourth-generation iDrive interface. (Portuguese roads and drivers are not of the highest quality, so a little electronic oversight is best.)

All the while, the calm within the redesigned though still driver-oriented cabin was up there with the finest we’ve ever experienced (excepting all Rolls-Royces, of course). The Dunlops transfer a modicum of road sound while the wind noise, even during our top-speed run, proved incredibly low (the bodywork has a 0.29 Cd).


Five laps of Estoril showed off the ability of this big car (the biggest in the segment) to feel less big than all of its competitors. The 2011 BMW 535i comes with the new turbocharged 3.0-liter N55 inline-6 with its single twin-scroll turbo, and when the car weighs in with the new eight-speed automatic, the scales register 3,880 pounds. This is some 177 pounds more than the outgoing car (even though the new eight-speed automatic actually weighs 7 pounds less than the old six-speed automatic), but that’s the price you pay for a larger package and a 55 percent increase in structural rigidity. Fortunately the combination of 302 horsepower at 5,800-6,400 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque from 1,200-5,000 rpm gets the new 535i four-door to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 5.9 seconds.


Full review at Edmunds and more reviews and coverage on Twitter.