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BMW 535 xi AWD--Test Drive Video Review with Chris Moran from Chicago Motor Cars

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Uploaded on Nov 14, 2011

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A jack of all trades, the twin-turbocharged, all-wheel-drive BMW 535xi. Presented by Chris Moran from Chicago Motor Cars

We probably shouldn't have been surprised to find that a 5 Series will run north of $70,000 when you slather on all the bells and whistles, but with a base sticker of $52,375, those extras add up to near a whole new Mini's worth. Given that perspective, we don't know how many 5 Series shoppers will opt for the six-cylinder optioned out to the gills—that is, unless even Bimmer buyers are becoming more conscious of fuel prices.

As for its driving characteristics, it is everything you come to expect from BMW. We were particularly interested to find out just how well the twin-turbocharged I6 from the 335i would perform in this heavier application. The old motor was frankly underpowered and required you to really stand on the throttle to get anywhere. With this, power is available instantly and moves the 5 forward swiftly. At no time did we want for the extra jolt of the highline V8. Throttle response is superb, and the steering, naturally, is near perfect.

If there is one thing we'd love to see, it is the paddle-mounted shifters. The drive-by-wire auto-manual in this car sits in the standard shift position, but BMW insists on doing something that's counterintuitive (and it needn't be): In most cars, pulling the shifter toward you shifts the tranny down a gear, while pushing it forward shifts up; here it is reversed, and more than once we found ourselves upshifting when we wanted to downshift.

What a difference the all-wheel drive system makes. This 5-series leans in corners more than the rear-wheel-drive 550i we had in at the same time. Both had the sport package, but BMW doesn't put sport suspensions on all-wheel-drive 5-series cars, so the package is only cosmetic on the 535xi. Since the xi rides higher than even a regular 550i, the difference between a 550i with the lowered sport suspension and a 535xi is pretty dramatic. Also dramatic is how fast this thing is. With an automatic keeping the boost up, it flies through the gears with shocking thrust. The Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic and the Audi A6 3.2 Quattro aren't even in the same league for acceleration, and the 535xi is so fast that it begs the question of whether the V-8 550i is worth the extra money. I'm looking forward to driving what promises to be the sleeper 5-series, the rear-wheel-drive 535i with the sport suspension.

Consider me converted when it comes this new-for-2008 535xi. I'm still not a fan of the other 5-series models—I find the 528i to be too slow—but with the new twin-turbo inline-six under its hood, the 5 is a far more seductive choice. It's fast, it feels nimble, and the new interior is cleaner and more attractive.

On the downside, though, the 5-series' new joystick-style gear selector is ridiculous—why fix something that isn't broken? With a conventional lever, you can select a gear or put the car into Park without a glance or even a conscious thought. This new joystick, though, requires a glance and even a beat or two worth of consideration before you figure out where the gear you want is located. Stupid, stupid, stupid, and another case of BMW techno-overkill. No thanks.

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