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Story by Jim Murray

All about the stunning 2008 BMW 5 Series

In 1972, the BMW 5 Series was so named because it was the fifth of the “New Series” BMW vehicles to be built after the V-8 Isetta era. The 5 Series’ body was styled by Marcello Gandini and based on the 1970 Bertone BMWGarmisch 2002ti model. The car made its North American debut in 1975 and since then has never wavered in its role as a mid-sized automobile that functions equally well as luxury car and as a high-performance machine. The first 5 Series was powered by an in-line six cylinder engine, a tradition which continues today. BMW is now on its fifth generation 5 Series and recently underwent its mid-cycle LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) for the 2008 model. In 2003, I was invited to Munich for the dealer debut of the (E-60) 2004 5 Series. It was a memorable trip and a truly amazing experience to drive on the Autobahn at speeds of 225 km; after doing so it’s even easier to understand why BMW is called “The Ultimate Driving Machine”!

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But on to the 2008 5 Series! The 528i/xi features an aluminum/magnesium, composite block, 3.0-litre, in-line six cylinder engine with Valvetronic technology and output increase to 230 Horsepower. The 528i model now comes standard with Dakota leather interior. The 535i, 535xi and 535xi Touring model are the successors to the 530 model variants. Each feature the newest in-line, six-cylinder engine with twin low-inertia intercooled turbochargers and high-precision direct fuel injection with piezo injectors. This engine produces an extraordinary 300 horsepower and a staggering 300 ft/lbs of torque.

This represents an increase of 45hp and 80 ft/lb over its predecessors, which originally had their debut in the critically acclaimed BMW 335i models. The 535i goes from 0 km/h to 100 km/h in just 6.0 seconds, and 6.1 seconds in the 535xi/ 535xi Touring. Combine this with a new Sport Automatic Transmission with Paddle shifts for speed shifts of just 200 milliseconds! The sport Automatic transmission blips the throttle during downshifts, precisely matching the engine and transmission rpm’s and resulting in exceptionally controlled and dynamic downshifts.

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“The subtle and well-appointed differences to the 2008 5 Series, combined with some new and e xciting power trains, are certain to ensure the ongoing success of the BMW 5 Series.”

With the sport automatic you can also engage the Sport button: this increases throttle sensitivity and reduces shift time, while also generating greater road feel by reducing the servotronic steering assist. The Sport function also increases the tachometer needle speed to visually reinforce the remarkable shifting speed. There are a variety of new packages available on all the 535i variants to meet the demands of the most discriminating 5 Series buyer. The 550i continues to offer several innovations: it is the only car in this segment to offer active steering, BMW Night Vision, Heads Up display and Lane Departure Warning. The 2008 550i now comes standard with the M Sport package for a more aggressive exterior appearance. The 4.8 litre V8 engine moves quickly, with 360 horsepower and 360 ft/lb of torque, for an impressive 0 to 100 km dash of just 5.6 seconds. The M5 continues its sensational performance with a 500 horsepower V-10 engine; the 2008 now has a 6-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, and the 7-speed Sequential M gearbox (SMG) as optional equipment. All 2008 5 Series cars also boast updated exterior and interior refinements. These design highlights offer an even greater harmony between the vehicle’s sporting character and sophisticated elegance. For example, the 5 Series’ technically-sophisticated round headlamps are built with clear glass technology; transparent glass panels cover the direction indicators; the direction indicators are now LEDs and the whole is highlighted in chrome. The BMW double kidney grille is now flush with the surfaces of the front airdam, creating a smooth, harmonious front end. The horizontal trim bar or rocker panels highlight a wide track, for a muscular stance on the road. The rearis dominated by horizon lines that give the vehicle

a look of superior power, and the trim bar around the rear bumper plate is defined more smoothly and precisely on the sedan models. A refined sophistication defines the interior of the 2008 5 Series. New ergonomic door handles give the first touch of elegance. Comfortable padding of the door armrest and panels, as well as of the centre console, are new styling changes. The buttons for windows lifts and mirror adjustments have been integrated in the armrest, just as the handles for closing the doors have been optimized in their ergonomic design. Control of the iDrive management system has also been enhanced, with menu guidance and refined graphics. The new programmable memory keys for the BMW Audio system ensure intuitive control and operation; they allow the driver and front passenger to access the importantfunctions quickly, smoothly and easily. A single button press will, for example, activate a specific destination, frequently dialed phone number or preferred radio station. All 2008 5 Series models with automatic transmission now also come with a new electronic gear selector. This stylish and highly ergonomic lever incorporates fully electronic functionality with push-button park select. The short–throw gate frees up additional consoles storage space. The subtle and well-appointed differences to the 2008 5 Series, combined with some new and exciting power trains, are certain to ensure the ongoing success of the BMW 5 Series. In our next issue, look for news of my upcoming visit to the BMW Plant 10 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which currently produces all worldwide Z4s, X5s and the new upcoming X6. I’ll also reporton mytrip to Munich, where I’ll get further insight into the BMW culture, tour the factory and see the new $250 Million BMW Welt delivery centre. HopefullyI will getthe drive some new and exciting products. Staytuned!

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