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Old 16th May 2008, 12:02   #1
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Default Test Drive: BMW 523i

Hey guys,

around mid march, I was in mumbai for a week and that whole week, we spent discussing my mom's next car.
The options were a camry or an accord or the Teana but for fun's sake, I TD'd the BMW 5 series as well.
I called up Navnit Motors on saturday, the day I was going to leave and tried arranging for a TD. Since I had called them up at the last minute, it wasn't that easy arranging for a TD but the people at Navnit were very helpful and arranged for one, even though it was going to be late in the evening. Of all the dealerships I called, Navnit and Audi were the most courteous and went out of the way to get me a TD car on saturday itself. Sadly, I could not TD the A6.

The 523i came at around 8.30PM and was dirty on the outside, but i attributed it to a day of heavy traveling all over mumbai for the sake of various TDs.

Design:
When I first saw the car up close, I was bowled over. Even though it was the boring silver color, it looked HOT. This is the type of car a young executive would want to drive. Some features that I loved were the projector headlamps and the tail lamps. The car has a very mean look to it, a sporty yet elegant look and I loved it.

Interiors:

the interiors were draped in gray leather and the dashboard had a wooden finish. I wasn't a big fan of it and asked if it would be possible to get silver with tan leather. Unfortunately, that is reserved only for the M5.
However, the build quality was amazing and I loved the concept of the START button. The interiors had a nice sporty theme, which was marred by the wooden finish.
Some features i noticed about the interiors -
- It is bigger than the E class.
- Seats are mad comfortable
- Start button is amazing!
- I loved the gearshift. It is like a joystick, unlike the other conventional automatics.

Ride and Handling:

My mom was accompanying me for a short testdrive before I could go on a proper one.
I took the car around to the lane behind my house. I have listed a few things I noticed about the ride and handling-
- It is pretty comfortable, even with the RFT. My mom found it more comfortable than the Camry TD vehicle which had come the previous day.
- The handling is amazing. The car seems to just build up around you. The steering feel is amazing and the grip and stability offered are mind blowing. I have never driven such a well handling car ever!
- the one let down in the near perfect driving experience were the brakes. I don't know why, but they had a very animated feel towards them. Anyone else experienced such a thing?

Performance:

I was driving the base variant, the 523i, so I didn't have any expectations about the performance. However, when i ripped it, it simply blew me away.
I touched about an 80 in the stretch between Air India and Mantralaya, when I had to stop for the light. I had read various reviews about the performance of the 523i being decent but trust me, in contrast to the base variant of the E class, the E200K, the performance of the BMW is simply amazing.
The engine was pretty refined.

Features i particularly liked about the car:

- Start button
- Gearshift
- Parking sensors. I found it pretty useful, specially in traffic conditions.
- the brochure. In comparison to all the other ones I have received, from Mercedes and Audi, I liked the BMW one the best.

I didn't get a chance to check out the music system, but I am guessing it is pretty good. I also never got a chance to try out the idrive and i am pretty intimidated by it.

I have finally understood why BMWs are the ultimate driving machine! Damn! Hoping to go on a longer drive soon.
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Old 16th May 2008, 12:16   #2
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Good report there Lambo !!

You sure are lucky to drive a 5 series - I have never driven a 3 series even !!

But once I did drive a Beemer M something sports coupe in UK for a short spin. It was amazing
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Old 16th May 2008, 13:01   #3
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Great review Lambo...and its speaks highly of the 5 coming from an E class owner.

I think you test drove the same car i did from Navnit,review (523i & 525i Pushed to the Limit!)i really like the color combination and went in for the exact same since white wasnt available then... but biege interiors on silver..eerr...i am not a big fan...all my other cars have biege interiors anyways so was quite sick of it...quite like the grey,good change.

But the 523i just didn't do it for me, it was good no doubt but not what you expect from a BMW if you are power hungry like me. I even test drove the 525i but landed up with the 525d instead.... If you are already crowning BMW the ultimate driving machine based on the 523i, wait till you get a piece of the diesel !

Suprising you complained of the brakes, i am sure there was something wrong with the TD car in that case because the brakes are brilliant.

And its good you didnt test out the sound system coz that would add a point to the E class ... Although the sound system is good, the Mercedes has a deeper bass effect.

So do i see the E class getting replaced soon ?

Last edited by Sahil : 16th May 2008 at 13:11.
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Old 16th May 2008, 19:14   #4
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Someone who is used to the E Class ends up impressed with the 5....that's saying something. Great review, Lambo. The 523i may be the base version, but there is nothing wrong with it. It has more than enough power, enough even to go for a spirited drive to that hill station.

I have been impressed by the braking ability of the 5 series. The pedal is well modulated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
I even test drove the 525i but landed up with the 525d instead.... If you are already crowning BMW the ultimate driving machine based on the 523i, wait till you get a piece of the diesel !
I'd probably buy the 525D from that segment too. But high-revving petrols have a charm that is irreplaceable by diesels.
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Old 16th May 2008, 19:32   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO - Touring View Post
Someone who is used to the E Class ends up impressed with the 5....that's saying something. Great review, Lambo. The 523i may be the base version, but there is nothing wrong with it. It has more than enough power, enough even to go for a spirited drive to that hill station.

I have been impressed by the braking ability of the 5 series. The pedal is well modulated.



I'd probably buy the 525D from that segment too. But high-revving petrols have a charm that is irreplaceable by diesels.
I completly agree but the torque surge the diesel gives is irreplacable too unless ofcourse its a turbo charged petrol engine.
I have driven the 530i too and although performance figures are similar to the 525d, the diesel just feel a lot faster and more fun to drive thanks to the turbo.
Redline a 525d and see how petrol-like it behaves,i call it the 2nd ghost turbo sitting past the 4000rpm mark.
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Old 16th May 2008, 22:00   #6
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Thanks guys -
@Sahil - I was talking of a silver center console with tan - dark red leather. See the combination on an M5 and it looks hot!!
Well, talking of replacements, I think a gray 5 series might already be in mumbai awaiting my arrival as a replacement for the accord. The 525d that too.

@GTO - the braking is perfectly fine but i thought it was a bit animated. I guess modulated would be a better word.
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Old 10th November 2008, 08:46   #7
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Finally got my wish granted.
Got to drive the 525d for a considerable period, through various places and I came out amazed!
Here's a short comparo to our E270 CDi, to help prospective buyers deciding between these two (5 series v/s E class. Not E270 v/s 525d as these engines have been discontinued)
Mods: I request you to please update the title.

Looks:
As mentioned above, the 5 Series has that sporty look, which just impresses me every time I see it. Of all the BMW's, it is one one of my favorites.
The E class on the other hand looks elegant and more prestigious. However, in Mumbai, as Merc's are so common, it is the BMW that stands out. (There have been people coming up to me, holding the door open with an umbrella in hand when I park, that too in a preferred parking spot!)
One thing that I really liked about the BMW's looks, is the attention to detail. Small things like the angel eyes, LED strips just make the BMW look so much better and sportier.
Earlier in my review of the E class, I had mentioned how the E was the young executives car, but that spot solely belongs to the 5 series. The E has now matured and looks more grown up in light of the newer competition.

Interiors:
The BMW is all out sporty once again. However, it carries off beige and other light colors pretty well.
The feeling of space and seat support that is there in the 5 series is greater than that of the E.
The quality is pretty impressive too and I am really beginning to like the car. The E on the other hand is older and I am not too impressed with the quality of a few certain parts. However, the E too has a well laid out dashboard that conveys a very business like look in comparison to the 5 series.
The 5 series also has pretty well laid out buttons that feel pretty solid in comparison to the Merc's slightly soft feel.
One aspect of the 5 that I did not like all that much was the location of the auxiliary port, which is on the back of the front seat armrest. It is pretty inconvenient to access.
Guys, is there any other place for one to plug in the AUX wire?
Also, I tried out the iDrive and I am beginning to like it and get used to it though I haven't had the time to go into all the features properly.
I like the fact that the BMW has a tv which one can watch though only DD was coming on.
One feature that will really click with the enthusiasts is the handbrake. Unlike the E, we have a proper handbrake and not a foot operated one!

Driving Experience
Now here is the surprise! The BMW isn't all that more uncomfortable than the Merc. Though the Merc definitely has a better ride, the BMW isn't all that far behind and I am pretty sure that with a good set of tyres, it will come pretty close to matching the Merc, though not quite as good.
The handling however is leagues ahead of the Merc with the steering being well weighted, not too heavy and yet not too light. The Merc in contrast had a harder steering.
The cornering of the BMW is also pretty good, but I really didn't push either car too fast around the corners (I didn't want to see how expensive the parts of the 5 series would be).
Some aspects I noticed:
- The BMW has much more comfortable seats
- The Merc's music system is leagues ahead and the Bass is simply insane!
- The lights of the 5 series were a bit more powerful than those of the E class. The E was a pain to drive at nights.
- The E has a lot of blindspots and driving in traffic is much more difficult with one actually feeling the size of the car and being ultra careful, mainly due to the blindspots and heavier steering. The 5 on the the other hand feels like a toy and builds up around the driver. The visibility is amazing in the nights and one can really judge the size of the car well during traffic.
- The BMW engine is much more refined, though I would contribute most of that to the extra cylinder the 5 series has in comparison to the E270. In terms of performance, the 5 series simply blows the E 280 CDI away as I found out and it is no doubt much faster than the E 270 CDI. Also, the downshifts in the BMW are faster and smoother than that of the E class.
- The BMW has a bigger turning radius so one needs to be careful while taking tight turns.
- The parking sensors on the 5 series are a boon and are pretty accurate. You don't need to shift to rear to engage it. Simply press the button. However, the beeping noise gets annoying at times.

That about sums it up.
If there are any other points I notice, I will definitely jot them down here.
Till then enjoy the pictures.
Attached Thumbnails
Test Drive: BMW 523i-image185.jpg  

Test Drive: BMW 523i-image186.jpg  

Test Drive: BMW 523i-image187.jpg  

Test Drive: BMW 523i-image188.jpg  

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Old 10th November 2008, 10:47   #8
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Nice report lambo !

It's my cars birthday today, i was about to write a short report but you have covered most of the points well so I'm going to find a time when i am a little less lazy to put my long term ownership report down.

About the AUX, the port is at the back only, no way to attach it in the front. But if you buy a slightly long wire it should not be a problem. I frankly have never used the AUX port, i prefer using a DVD rewritable for my music.

Its surprising you mention that the E's steering is heavier than the 5, i have driven my friends E280 and always found the steering well balanced. Also in terms of refinement, the E feels slightly more muted at idle and lower rpms, but once you are past 1500rpm the 5 shows better refinement characteristics. But you'll be a better judge of this since I haven't compared the cars side by side.

Unfair to compare the lights of your E270 with the 5 because the 5 comes with xenons. The new E does too now.
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Old 10th November 2008, 11:00   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
Nice report lambo !

It's my cars birthday today, i was about to write a short report but you have covered most of the points well so I'm going to find a time when i am a little less lazy to put my long term ownership report down.

About the AUX, the port is at the back only, no way to attach it in the front. But if you buy a slightly long wire it should not be a problem. I frankly have never used the AUX port, i prefer using a DVD rewritable for my music.

Its surprising you mention that the E's steering is heavier than the 5, i have driven my friends E280 and always found the steering well balanced. Also in terms of refinement, the E feels slightly more muted at idle and lower rpms, but once you are past 1500rpm the 5 shows better refinement characteristics. But you'll be a better judge of this since I haven't compared the cars side by side.

Unfair to compare the lights of your E270 with the 5 because the 5 comes with xenons. The new E does too now.
@Sahil, Thanks and congrats bro. I am sure you enjoyed the year.
What I meant, I meant that the E has a slightly heavier steering wheel than the 5 series, which makes it a bit more difficult to drive in traffic. The steering is undoubtedly well balanced and good for cruising speeds but in traffic, one tends to notice these things.
About the lights, what I meant to say was that the lights on the E aren't sufficient. I generally have to use high beam all the time when driving at night.
Also, our E is a 5 cylinder, and is therefore not as smooth. However, the E 280 is a V6 Diesel and hence is undoubtedly better.
About the AUX in, well, as it isn't my car, I prefer to use something like an Ipod or my phone to listen to music rather than burn a DVD for a car which I will only be using 10 times a year. Not my personal car and till I get something like this, I have to make a few compromises.

To sum up, for me, the 5 is more like a weekend car because of the way it makes me feel when I sit in it. Whenever I get the option to choose between the Merc and the 5, I take the Merc because I only want to use the 5 for those special moments. Guess I am a bit crazy in that regard, Lol.
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