Track Tested: 2011 BMW 535i Automatic

Track Tested: 2011 BMW 535i Automatic

2011 BMW 535i Automatic

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test-drivers. Enjoy.

The 2011 BMW 535i is the most radically different 5 Series for this, the sixth generation (F10 for the BMW geeks) of the venerable not-too-big/not-too-small midsize BMW sedan with a new engine, new suspension and a new eight-speed automatic. 

Output from the 3.0-liter I-6 remains static at 300 horsepower, but the methodology is different. Instead of using the N54 twin-turbo inline-6, the new 2011 535i uses the new N55 single twin-scroll turbocharger, a variation on the I-6 we first saw on the 2010 BMW 535i GT. The 535i automatic also makes use of the ZF-built eight-speed automatic that also debuted on the 535i GT. The new trans promises increased fuel economy while maintaining crisp shifts and sporty performance. We know, we know, BMWs should be manuals, but let's get with the times for a minute; the 5 Series makes up more than 50 percent of BMW's global sales, and manual transmission take rates are lower than public school students not diagnosed with ADHD. A six-speed manual is still available for 2011, but the eight-speed is more interesting.

Apart from a single turbo, two more gearsets and a double-wishbone front suspension replacing the old struts, the 2011 5 Series is the first of the 5ers to come with electronic power steering (EPS). Our tester also comes equipped with the Dynamic Handling package ($2,500) and the Sport package ($2,200). Included are driver-adjustable dampers, active roll stabilization and a driving dynamics control that allows the selection of one of four different modes from Comfort to Sport +. Different selections vary the level of throttle response, transmission shift attitude, power-steering assistance and traction control. We also had the Sport automatic transmission option ($500) which added a three-spoke wheel with proper left-down, right-up paddles.

So, the 2011 BMW 535i has an automatic transmission, electric power steering and an electronic LSD. But is it still any good on our track? Results and video after the jump.

Vehicle:  2011 BMW 535i
Odometer: 1,396
Date: 8/24/10
Driver: Chris Walton
Base Price (with destination and tax): $49,600
Options: Dynamic Handling Package ($2,700); Sport Package ($2,200); Dakota Leather ($1,450); Side and Top View Cameras ($800); Park Distance Control ($750); Dark Graphite Metallic ($550); Sport Automatic Transmission ($500); Rearview Camera ($400); iPod and USB Adapter ($400).
As-Tested Price: $60,225


Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,979/181.8
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 300 @ 5,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 300 @ 1,200-5,000
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated disc
Steering System: Electric-assist rack-and-pinion
Suspension Type (front): Multilink
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink

Tire Size (front): 245/40R19 94Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/35R19 96Y
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Excellence
Tire Type: Asymmetrical all-season
Wheel Size: 19-by-8 inches front and rear
Wheel Material (front/rear):  Alloy
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,080

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.3
0 - 45 (sec): 3.9
0 - 60 (sec): 5.9
0 - 75 (sec): 8.6
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.30 @ 95.06
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.6
30 - 0 (ft): 28
60 - 0 (ft): 110
Slalom (mph): 64.9 stability off, 62.0 on
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.84 stability off, 0.84 trac on
Db @ Idle: 42.3
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 67.0

Acceleration Comments: Wide range of settings means wide range of results, from normal drive to sport/DSC off. At worst, it stumbles off the line, then gets with the program at @ 3,000 rpm. At best with brake torque and DSC off, it's still not what I'd call "snappy" off the line but at least the boost is in the right place for a decent run. Very smooth upshifts in every mode, but it seemed to delay 1-2 (possibly 3-4) in Sport mode. Crossed the finish in 4th gear.

Braking Comments: Highly susceptible to pavement irregularities, hence 10-foot variance in otherwise fade-free set of runs. Some smoking front pads, but no discernible loss of power. Obvious anti-dive suspension and lots of rebound damping. Firm pedal and straight stops throughout.

Handling Comments: Slalom: With DSC off in Sport, the tires were the limiting factor. Good balance between understeer/oversteer and good steering response but not enough ultimate grip to make it all work. In Sport + DSC on, the brakes would grab abruptly just as I approached a cone (expecting a little slide), so I had to back down the speed to keep from being pulled into cones by DSC. Skid pad: hard to balance/steer on the line with boost varying wildly -- requires constant steering with DSC off. With DSC on (Sport +) it requires virtually no steering, and throttle was more consistent (obviously being managed by computer), steering weight was appropriate, but almost no feel.

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