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      11-13-2005, 10:07 PM   #1
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Test drive report of an 06 530i

A good friend of mine just purchased an 06 530i with Step, ZSP, ZPP and Nav a couple of days ago. As usual, he wanted me to test drive and give him an opinion of mine on the car when I went to his b-day party last night. So I took the key and left the drinking game (not my favorite part of parties anyways) for those good ol' hills of San Francisco.

First of all, the car looked very, very good in person. Jet Black with black leather and polar grain wood trim, seeing Jet Black in person on this car has really sold me the color, when I get my next car, it will most likely be black. Hard to maintain, but when it's clean it's just stunning. With a rear spoiler, the car gave a really aggressive stance with the curvy shape of the tails, same with the front. It's not nearly as subtle as E39, but it's really modern and good looking, also stands out from the crowd.

Moving on to the interior, it's quite similar compared to E90 but enlarged by quite a bit, doors were heavier but had a more quality feel to them when opening/closing, I really really liked the grip bar on the driver's door, it's one of the things I wished they did for E90, why make it different from all the other 3 doors? It just feels better to grip the bar and pull the door close. Driver door switches looked like they were placed in an awkward position but was actually very easy to reach and use, good ergonomics there. Dash materials were pretty much identical to E90, wasn't a big fan of the climate control dials, I like the LCD display on E90 much better, but all the switch-gears were made of the same material and felt exactly the same, except for the iDrive controller. The one in E60 was clearly plastic and painted in silver, where as the one in E90 was aluminum (well it felt that way to me) The iDrive itself, however, is lag-free unlike my E90, even with CIP 19.2 it still gets very laggy from time to time, no such thing with the one in E60.

The wood trim in E60 felt the same as E90 but looked like higher quality wood, whether it really is or not I have no idea. E90's gauges look more sporty compared to E60, illumination at night is more reddish on the E60 compared to the more orange color on E90, can't say I prefer either. The 530 ZSP doesn't come with a sport steering wheel, the regular wheel looked pretty sharp but it wasn't as thick as the sport wheel in my E90 therefore I definitely prefer a sport steering wheel. Overall, E60's interior material and quality is about the same as E90, except for leather. The leather in E60 was a lot softer and plush, I also loved the sport seats in E60 because you really sink into the seat when you sit down, the leg bolsters were a lot higher on the E60 sport seats and the side bolsters gripped just as good as E90, the driver seat was VERY comfortable.

Onto the drive, despite having the same HP spec as my E90, I suspected that a different exhaust system was used on the E60 530 because it didn't have the same throaty sound as my 330. The feeling of power from the engine is pretty much identical, my E90 feels like it has more punch but it might be due to the transmission. The car was sufficiently quick, definitely quicker than the E90 325iA loaner I had despite being a larger car. The steering was really the downer in this car, it felt over-boosted and uncommunicative compared to E90, I could literally make a turn using two fingers and it tuned out a lot of what's going on under wheels. Although it had ZSP, the ride was smoother and more plush than E90 ZSP, bumps are mostly absorbed before reaching your body so all that you feel is a little thud here and there. I didn't have the chance to really test the handling of the car and see how much body-roll it has but I suspect that it won't be as tossable as E90 around the bends.

Together with Step, the car felt like a big, luxurious and quiet (very quiet, road and wind noise are minimal) smooth cruiser with a good amount of sport (the ride was still solid and the car goes where I point the wheel, but the entire experience wasn't as involved and communicative as E90) and killer good looks.

I gave my friend the same shortened review and he was very pleased with it, because as a very large sized man he needs the extra space, and he wants the extra comfort and luxury. But he appreciates the smooth-revving engine, transmission and the solid feeling when the car's on the road. The value of unique styling and the badge just sets it apart from the competition, this car is exactly what he wanted.

For me, this drive has given me a new perspective and I appreciate my car even more now due to its sportiness and I'm absolutely in love with the manual tranny. If I was 10 years older, I can probably see myself preferring the E60 over E90.

Last but not least, Jet Black is

EDIT: Forgot a few things: the rear seats in E60 are a lot more comfortable than those in E90, clearly shows how the E90 is more driver oriented aka screw the passengers. There is ample room in the back in E90 but it's a lot bigger in the back of E60, feels like a big sofa behind the front seats. I hated the fact that the E60's trunk did not utilize struts so you really had to slam the lid down to close the trunk, not very quality. Nor is the hood on the E60 very high quality either, it was most likely for weight-saving purposes but the hood felt quite thin and fragile, also required some slamming action to lock it down.

Brakes on E60 were more gradual than those on E90, they aren't as grabby, which is good and bad at the same time, good because it's easier to drive it smoothly, bad because for a bigger car you would want stronger brakes for a better sense of security.

Last edited by Xens; 11-13-2005 at 11:25 PM.
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      11-13-2005, 10:13 PM   #2
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good read. thanks xens.
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      11-13-2005, 10:15 PM   #3
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Nice nice in depth writeup and thx for sharing with us. I'm a fan of the E60's look and always wondered what it's like to drive one. Good to know BMW is able to infuse luxury and sport in all their cars. Best part is how it made you appreciate BMW and especially the E90 even more than before
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      11-13-2005, 10:17 PM   #4
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Good post, thank you.
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      11-13-2005, 11:14 PM   #5
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Good review, thanks.. I am considering getting a 5 series down the road...
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      11-14-2005, 12:07 AM   #6
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Question regarding the steering: Did your friend's 530i have Active Steering or not? Does your own E90 have Active Steering (for point of reference)?

As an E39 driver, I do agree that the new E60s do feel overboosted in steering, but lately I've only driven the Servotronic models, not the AS models.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Xens
A good friend of mine just purchased an 06 530i with Step, ZSP, ZPP and Nav a couple of days ago. As usual, he wanted me to test drive and give him an opinion of mine on the car when I went to his b-day party last night. So I took the key and left the drinking game (not my favorite part of parties anyways) for those good ol' hills of San Francisco.

First of all, the car looked very, very good in person. Jet Black with black leather and polar grain wood trim, seeing Jet Black in person on this car has really sold me the color, when I get my next car, it will most likely be black. Hard to maintain, but when it's clean it's just stunning. With a rear spoiler, the car gave a really aggressive stance with the curvy shape of the tails, same with the front. It's not nearly as subtle as E39, but it's really modern and good looking, also stands out from the crowd.

Moving on to the interior, it's quite similar compared to E90 but enlarged by quite a bit, doors were heavier but had a more quality feel to them when opening/closing, I really really liked the grip bar on the driver's door, it's one of the things I wished they did for E90, why make it different from all the other 3 doors? It just feels better to grip the bar and pull the door close. Driver door switches looked like they were placed in an awkward position but was actually very easy to reach and use, good ergonomics there. Dash materials were pretty much identical to E90, wasn't a big fan of the climate control dials, I like the LCD display on E90 much better, but all the switch-gears were made of the same material and felt exactly the same, except for the iDrive controller. The one in E60 was clearly plastic and painted in silver, where as the one in E90 was aluminum (well it felt that way to me) The iDrive itself, however, is lag-free unlike my E90, even with CIP 19.2 it still gets very laggy from time to time, no such thing with the one in E60.

The wood trim in E60 felt the same as E90 but looked like higher quality wood, whether it really is or not I have no idea. E90's gauges look more sporty compared to E60, illumination at night is more reddish on the E60 compared to the more orange color on E90, can't say I prefer either. The 530 ZSP doesn't come with a sport steering wheel, the regular wheel looked pretty sharp but it wasn't as thick as the sport wheel in my E90 therefore I definitely prefer a sport steering wheel. Overall, E60's interior material and quality is about the same as E90, except for leather. The leather in E60 was a lot softer and plush, I also loved the sport seats in E60 because you really sink into the seat when you sit down, the leg bolsters were a lot higher on the E60 sport seats and the side bolsters gripped just as good as E90, the driver seat was VERY comfortable.

Onto the drive, despite having the same HP spec as my E90, I suspected that a different exhaust system was used on the E60 530 because it didn't have the same throaty sound as my 330. The feeling of power from the engine is pretty much identical, my E90 feels like it has more punch but it might be due to the transmission. The car was sufficiently quick, definitely quicker than the E90 325iA loaner I had despite being a larger car. The steering was really the downer in this car, it felt over-boosted and uncommunicative compared to E90, I could literally make a turn using two fingers and it tuned out a lot of what's going on under wheels. Although it had ZSP, the ride was smoother and more plush than E90 ZSP, bumps are mostly absorbed before reaching your body so all that you feel is a little thud here and there. I didn't have the chance to really test the handling of the car and see how much body-roll it has but I suspect that it won't be as tossable as E90 around the bends.

Together with Step, the car felt like a big, luxurious and quiet (very quiet, road and wind noise are minimal) smooth cruiser with a good amount of sport (the ride was still solid and the car goes where I point the wheel, but the entire experience wasn't as involved and communicative as E90) and killer good looks.

I gave my friend the same shortened review and he was very pleased with it, because as a very large sized man he needs the extra space, and he wants the extra comfort and luxury. But he appreciates the smooth-revving engine, transmission and the solid feeling when the car's on the road. The value of unique styling and the badge just sets it apart from the competition, this car is exactly what he wanted.

For me, this drive has given me a new perspective and I appreciate my car even more now due to its sportiness and I'm absolutely in love with the manual tranny. If I was 10 years older, I can probably see myself preferring the E60 over E90.

Last but not least, Jet Black is

EDIT: Forgot a few things: the rear seats in E60 are a lot more comfortable than those in E90, clearly shows how the E90 is more driver oriented aka screw the passengers. There is ample room in the back in E90 but it's a lot bigger in the back of E60, feels like a big sofa behind the front seats. I hated the fact that the E60's trunk did not utilize struts so you really had to slam the lid down to close the trunk, not very quality. Nor is the hood on the E60 very high quality either, it was most likely for weight-saving purposes but the hood felt quite thin and fragile, also required some slamming action to lock it down.

Brakes on E60 were more gradual than those on E90, they aren't as grabby, which is good and bad at the same time, good because it's easier to drive it smoothly, bad because for a bigger car you would want stronger brakes for a better sense of security.
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      11-14-2005, 12:30 AM   #7
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No Active Steering on his car or my car. I'll never be getting that feature either, unlike other electronics, this one interferes with driving TOO MUCH.
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      11-14-2005, 12:54 AM   #8
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When I was getting ready to buy, I considered both the e90 and the e60, but unfortunately only have a 45K budget. Would have loved the 545i since it is clearly the engine(v8) that is matched with the car.

But the e90 330i is great and has enough poer for me to enjoy my last 5-10 miles of my drive in 280. I accelerate to 100 MPH past Westborough until I get to Millbrae...That is my daily dose of e90 heaven!
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      11-14-2005, 01:41 PM   #9
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I plan to upgrade from an E90 to E60 in a few years

Have a 2006 e90 with the sports package. I have 3 K on it. I plan on
upgrading to the 5 series whe my car get 45K on. When my wife,
son and I ride together, things are a bit tight.
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      11-14-2005, 06:35 PM   #10
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"Have a 2006 e90 with the sports package. I have 3 K on it. I plan on
upgrading to the 5 series whe my car get 45K on. When my wife,
son and I ride together, things are a bit tight."

Are you taller than 6'4" and is your son taller than 6'? If not, how much more room do you need? I am 6'2" and 195 pounds and I drive with my wife and 6 year old and 4 year old and there is plenty of room for the four of us.......
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      11-14-2005, 10:02 PM   #11
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I drove the new 550i last week, and the 530i a few weeks ago. I totally agree with you regarding the steering; it felt kind of loose and I just didn't get the road feel I am used to with a BMW. After being in a 3 series the past 3 years I just don't think I could go back to a 5. A car that big just has different handling dynamics.
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      11-15-2005, 12:06 AM   #12
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I remember reading somewhere that the trunk of the e60 is carbon fiber; perhaps that is why it felt so light? Maybe the hood is aswell.

Great review.
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      11-15-2005, 12:20 AM   #13
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Great review. I completely agree, which is why I'll be trading down to the E90.
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      11-15-2005, 08:04 AM   #14
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nice review thanks
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      11-15-2005, 08:53 AM   #15
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Nice write up. The E60 is certainly more geared toward passengers and comfort. Someone we know had a 3 series and now has a 5 series. She said she misses the 3.
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      11-15-2005, 11:59 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xens
No Active Steering on his car or my car. I'll never be getting that feature either, unlike other electronics, this one interferes with driving TOO MUCH.
All my friends with Benz without Parameter Steering (AS) said to me they love my Benz with PS. And, I will only buy a car with AS or its equivalence technology because I believe this is way to go. I am therefore very interested to know whether AS works well as it is intended.

I heard ( even from my E90 salesman ) about AS on the 5-series is pretty hard to adopt to. I received good comments from owners with AS on their E90. I must admit I found the Audi Servotronic very hard to get used to.

No means of picking words, I do not think Benz, Audi and BMW are bringing in this technology to interfere the driver. If it is a good technology that works well ( or not so well ) on a a particular car model, we should share the experience in details with the rest of group.
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      02-07-2006, 05:49 AM   #17
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Xens
I am eager to know, is the E60 you tried, exactly the same 258hp magnesium engine as the 330i? Or it is just the old 3.0 230hp engine ?
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      02-08-2006, 07:26 PM   #18
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The 06 models for 530i in North America at least is the new magnesium/aluminum Engine in the E90 330i.
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      02-09-2006, 12:39 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tctic
The 06 models for 530i in North America at least is the new magnesium/aluminum Engine in the E90 330i.
The 325 and 525 have: 3.0 215hp
The 330 and 530 have: 3.0 255hp
The 550 has: 4.8 360hp
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      02-09-2006, 01:47 AM   #20
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I am also considering a 5-series down the road. I like the look and the comfort.
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