Stories to fuel your mind

JOY is experiencing the new BMW 5 Series firsthand in Portugal

Share the story

Story by Jim Murray

March 22, 2010, 4:00pm and I’ve just arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, site of the world launch for the new 2011 5 Series. For the next 4 days, along with the other Canadian BMW Retailers and the BMW world network, I was to be reminded of what JOY stands for and that JOY is at the core of the BMW brand. Okay enough JOY, back to the story. I’m constantly reminded that BMW truly is a world wide organization. The product, the message, the presentation is very global. And everything about this launch was well… BMW: every hosting venue had all the corporate identity and feel as if you’ve arrived in BMW land.

Sponsored Ads

Two hours after I arrived in Lisbon, I was sharing some wine with my fellow Canadian BMW retailers and BMW Canada colleagues at Adega de Corares, a wine cellar which is responsible for about half of the regions wine production and is known for its deep-colored, full-bodied wines. Later, we dined in the facility, which has great ambiance. I particularly liked being surrounded by huge wine vats and delightfully shared some great conversion over dinner with Mr. Franz Jung, President and CEO of BMW Canada. The next day it was off to the historical Estoril race track, which was the main site for all the launch activities.

This track dates back to 1972 and has seen everything from Formula F1, F2 and F3 racing to European Lemans Series to Various GT and Moto GP racing. I was feeling the excitement build as I knew some track time with the new 5 was on the agenda. Alas, day one was all aboutthe brand, with an exciting peek into future products. This included a showcase of the 2011 LCI X5’s and LCI 3 Series Coupe/Cabriolet, the future 2011 X3, which will debut in Canada in early 2011, the X1 which has already made its debut in Europe but will arrive here in May 2011, and of course the F-10 or the new 5 Series Sedan.

At first glance, you know the new 5 is part of the new BMW Family: it resembles the new 7 Series but with a sportier edge and handling characteristics that are truly unique to the 5 series. This 6th generation 5 Series blends luxury, comfort, technology and pure exhilarating JOY into your driving experience. But on this day, I only got to see and not touch— the excitement was building. We were ushered off to another dinner. This time at the Penha Longa Resort for the “Passion Ahead” evening event. More great wine, greater food and, yes, I could hardly believe I was getting paid forthis! Throughout the evening, I notice a dark glass window atthe front ofthe venue.

It stayed dark until a representative from BMW Canada told us to watch as the glass lit up from behind: this was another sneak peek at what the future is about—this was the unveiling of the new 6 Series Cabriolet. Of course I can’t show a picture (they actually put a sticker on all cell phone cameras) but I can saythis car has “winner” written all over it! Sorry, Brian, you’ll have to wait until Spring 2011 for this new demo! Day 2 of the product brand experience. So far, I’ve eaten, I’ve drank, I’ve seen, but I have nottouched. This is the fun stuff and the partthat is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best. It was about 9:00 am and I was in the driver’s seat and about to take my first lap on the Estoril race track in the new 5 Series—the 535i to be exact.

This car is equipped with the new Integral Active Steering option, which turns the rear wheels the opposite wayto the front wheels at speeds up to 60km/h to create maneuverability that is completely unexpected in a vehicle ofthis size. The slalom course felt like I was driving a Mini on rails! With the rear wheels turning up to 3 degrees against the direction of travel, it became apparent immediately that this makes maneuvering into narrow lanes, twisting roads orparking much easier. At speeds above 80km/h the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels enhancing driving stability.

Again, it felt like I was cornering on rails as the vehicle remained agile at all times. This is where the 5 series

Sponsored Ads

is very distinct in comparison with all other models. I know thatthis will put us leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. After a couple of exhilarating laps on the Estoril track, it was off to tour Lisbon in the car. With Navigation Pre-setthere was no fear of getting lost as I wound my way through the beautiful landscape of Lisbon and made my waythough the Sinatra hills with their breath taking views ofthe Cascais and the ocean. There was a lunch stop atthe Penha Langa Golf Resort and then it was back to the Estoril race track for some more JOY.

Do you hate parallel parking? Neverfear! Among the many features of this new 5 series is Active Blind SpotDetection, Lane Departure Warning, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, NightVision with Pedestrian Detection and Surround View Cameras, but the coolest feature by far is the optional Park Assist. No, we’re not the first to offer this option but BMW is the only manufacture to offerthis new innovation with completely automatic steering until the parking is complete.

The sensors integrated into the side of the vehicle turn signals indicators automatically measure the length and width of possible parking spaces on either side of the road when driving under 36km/h, detecting available parking spaces that are 1.20m longerthan the vehicle. It is easyto operate: the driver presses the Park Assistant button on the centre console the drive display will inform the driver if a parking space is large enough when shifted into reverse.

The driver only needs to control the acceleration and braking. All steering is completely automatic until parking is complete. I was amazed at how well this system works. It is hands down ahead of any other system on the market. Just to give you a taste for what is under the hood, the power trains for the new 5 Series will feature the 4.4l TwinPower turboV8 engine on the 550i models featuring 400hp and 450lb-ft of torque, the 535i with TwinPower Turbo engine with 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque. Both models will share a new 8-Speed (Sport) Automatic transmission. xDrive models and the 528i will be available towards the fall of this year. In addition, all models have followed the BMW Efficient Dynamic model.

This means they produce less C02 emissions and have better fuel consumption while delivering better performance. To top it off, the use of Brake Energy Regeneration converts redundant kinetic energy into electricity; this is used to power charge the battery resulting in less engine power needed to feed the battery which saves fuel. High Precision Injection and TwinScroll Turbo all add to better efficiencies for optimal fuel savings. In short, the new BMW 5 Series is JOY, and JOY is an exploration of beauty. I am convinced that this car will change BMW. It’s clearly 100% BMW and unmatched by the competition. With all the comfort features, new technology, sporty & elegant appearance plus it is exhilarating to drive, this new generation 5 Series is the best ever produced. I’ve always been a fan of this segment and this car will not disappoint.

It’s all style, it’s all techy and it’s all about the drive! I left Portugal with even more enthusiasm for the new lineup and full of JOY. Thank you, BMW, for this experience. The new 5-Series will be available June 19, 2010 butyou can orderyours now at Brian Jessel BMW.

Related Articles