Track Tested: BMW 528i, Six vs. Four
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Track Tested: BMW 528i, Six vs. Four


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BMW 528i, Six vs. Four

Is there a replacement for displacement? What about a replacement for an icon?

For years now, the naturally aspirated inline-6 has been a cornerstone of what makes BMWs so great to drive. Smooth, great power, killer sound and flexible enough to keep up with any driving habits, the I6...

Unfortunately, the straight-6 isn't as fuel-efficient as BMW would like it to be in today's automotive climate. BMW drivers, though, aren't willing to sacrifice power for a few more MPGs and that's why BMW has ditched the 2011 BMW 528i's 3.0-liter I6 in favor of a 2.0-liter turbocharged (gasp) four-cylinder (gasp) for 2012.

The new 2012 engine makes the same 240 horsepower as the outgoing 3.0, but produces 30 pound-feet more torque — and does so at 1,250 rpm instead of 6,600. Adding insult to injury, the I4 is lighter, too.

Fuel efficiency, power, torque and weight are on the side of the I4. Do the track numbers back this up and, if so, does it still have soul?

  2012 BMW 528i 2011 BMW 528i
0-30 (sec.): 2.2 2.6
0-45 (sec.): 4.0 4.5
0-60 (sec.): 6.4 7.1
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 6.1 6.7
0-75 (sec.): 9.2 10.3
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 94.6 15.12 @ 91.6
30-0 (ft): 29 29
60-0 (ft): 113 113
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.85 0.84
Slalom: 65.4 67.6

Vehicle: 2012 BMW 528i

Odometer: 1,676
Date: 12/20/2011
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $46,900

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injection inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,997/122
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 5,000-6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 258 @ 1,250-4,800
Brake Type (front): 13.7-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.6-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent mulitilink with two lower control arms and double ball joints, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent mulilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/45R18 (96Y)
Tire Size (rear): 245/45R18 (96Y)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiSportContact 3E SSR RSC
Tire Type: Asymmetrical Summer
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,854

Test Results:

Acceleration:
0-30 (sec): 2.2 (3.0 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.0 (4.7 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.4 (7.1 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.1 (6.6 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.2 (10.1 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 94.6 (15.1 @ 93.6 w/TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 113

Handling:
Slalom (mph): 65.4 ( 64.7 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.86 ( 0.85 w/TC OFF)

Db @ Idle: 42.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 69.0
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 59.4

Acceleration: Wide margin between Auto-stop in Drive, foot-to-the-floor launch and engine running with 1st gear selected with generous pedal overlap (1/2 second). Still, this is not a car that leaps off the line. Real acceleration begins at about 25-30 mph. Upshifts in Drive are slightly slower/smoother (and 500 rpm shy of redline) compared to auto-upshift manual mode. Reasonably linlear power delivery but a little noisy.

Braking: I expected better from these summer tires, but first stop was best. Mild fade shown in distances growing by 7 feet, but pedal remained firm and steady. Straight, true stops with moderate dive (in Sport Plus).

Handling: All handling tests conducted in Sport Plus mode.

Skid pad: As with slalom, plenty of grip but little feel or sense of limits approaching. Capable yet not rewarding. ESC is tuned well to allow full potential of tires before bleeding throttle at pending understeer.

Slalom: Crisp turn-in but more roll than expected — even in Sport plus. Steering is light and precise but offers none of the legendary BMW "connected" feel for what grip is available/left. The slalom then becomes an exercise of rhythm rather than feel/finesse. Sad.

Vehicle: 2011 BMW 528i
Odometer: 1,498
Date: 10/05/10
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Base Price: $45,425

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Direct-injection, naturally aspirated inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,996cc (183 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,750
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 6,600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 230 lb-ft @ 2,600 rpm
Brake Type (front): 13.7-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.6-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Steering System: Electric speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent multilink with two lower control arms and double ball joints, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar

Tire Size (front): 245/45R18 96Y
Tire Size (rear): 245/45R18 96Y
Tire Brand: Dunlop
Tire Model: SP Sport Maxx GT
Tire Type: Asymmetrical Summer Performance
Wheel Size: 18-by-8 inches front and rear
Wheel Material: Alloy
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,910

Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.6
0-45 (sec): 4.5
0-60 (sec): 7.1
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.7
0-75 (sec): 10.3
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.12 @ 91.6

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 113

Handling
Slalom (mph): 67.6 ( 66.8 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.84 ( 0.84 w/TC OFF)

Db @ Idle: 44.4
Db @ Full Throttle: 66.3
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 60.0

Acceleration Comments: The 528i feels soft off the line — even in Sport Plus. Eight-speed trans, however, shifts quickly and keeps the engine in its sweet spot. Some brake torque improves time.

Braking Comments: Solid, consistent pedal every stop. Very confident.

Handling Comments:

Skid pad: More difficult to access off-throttle rotation than the more powerful 535i, but the effect is minimal in both cars. Not nimble or quick to respond, but entirely controllable.

Slalom: Feels fairly soft in rapid transitions — even in Sport Plus. Is well-mannered, however. Chassis isn't snappy like an Infiniti. BMW is showing a change of direction here.

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