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    I must say, as someone who has owned every version of the 5 Series from the E12 to, most recently, the #BMW-F10 / #BMW-F11 , I’m also not overly keen on the new G30 interior. There’s nothing really wrong with the fit and finish, apart from a couple of areas, but how I wish manufacturers would ditch piano black trim; I just don’t understand why anyone chooses this option! However, I absolutely detest this stupid, dumb idea BMW now has of perching the cheap-looking iDrive screen on top of the dash. Not only does it suffer from reflection from the sunroof (yes, they do still exist), but I think it just looks naff and cheap.

    I much prefer the layout in the F11, where the screen was neatly tucked into the instrument binnacle, away from sunlight. I think BMW should do what Audi does, and make the screen hidden within the dash until it’s needed. That way you create nice, clean lines with no distractions, and it would keep everyone happy.

    As for the G30’s overall design, I’d have much preferred something that looks completely different; a new vehicle with a more forward-thinking style. I seem to remember a concept for the new 5, presenting a much leaner, sportier look – a cross between the 6 and an 8 coupé – that presented a low and powerful image. Now, that would be a car I’d lust over!

    However, I’m sure that when the lease finishes on the Range Rover I currently drive, I’ll undoubtedly return to BMW, with a new #BMW-5-Series-G30 . By that time, the #BMW-G30 will be out in face-lifted, LCI form which, personally, I always like, as #BMW typically make big strides with these updates.

    Lee Ryan much prefers the in-dash screen position used in the F10 #BMW-5-Series … … to the ‘stuck-on iPad’ look favoured in the G30.
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    / #2016 / #BMW-F11 rear air springs / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW

    In #2015 , after making #BMW-5-Series Tourings with rear air suspension for close to 20 years, you would think the airbags are now just about bulletproof. Well, I’m afraid they’re not. A reader contacted us recently with a tale of woe with his F11 (current model) 5 Series Touring. An air spring popped on his car (a 520d) and while a new one from BMW is an expensive but not completely scandalous £303 plus VAT (£363), it cannot (at the time of writing) supply one. There was talk of a back order running into thousands of units – strange when the car is still in full production – but we are talking weeks if not months before one can be supplied. We advised the owner to contact Euro Car Parts or Schmiedmann for an aftermarket unit. Euro Car Parts sell an air spring made by Arnott Air Suspension who has a very good reputation. The price? £236 all in with VAT which is more reasonable, especially as you can actually buy one and fix your car. Over in the US, Suncore Industries supply F11 air springs and their cost is $349 each or $695 the pair.

    It’s clearly been a problem for BMW, and whilst we don’t know what is causing the trouble, it is not very good that cars as young as the F11 are having these troubles when General Motors can make air springs for cars like the Escalade that seem a lot more robust, and that even BL stuff like the Maxi still have working suspension displacers after 40 years of use.
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    Happy ending. #BMW-F10 / #BMW-F11 / You were kind enough to publish my letter in the December issue concerning my #BMW-520d-Touring and the fact that #BMW was unable to supply an air spring for the car, potentially rendering it undriveable for a couple of months. I was grateful for your advice on using non-genuine but OE quality parts and would have gone down that route were it not for the assistance of Autokraft in Earlswood, Solihull. It came up with the goods for me and fitted a genuine BMW spring for me just a couple of days after BMW said it couldn’t get one or give an ETA for its arrival! #BMW-520d-Touring-F11 /

    I have driven the best part of 200 miles since and it’s driving really well now. I can’t stress how pleased I was with Autokraft’s service. Not only did it come up with the part but they jumped on it straight away, gave me a cup of tea and I was all done within one hour. I would definitely recommend Noel and the boys at this small, niche, BMW specialist.

    I’m still surprised at the contrast between Autokraft’s service and BMW’s and am still amazed Autokraft could source the proper BMW part when BMW could not.

    As an aside, I bought the car from Lex Autolease in Birmingham. I didn’t take much notice of the terms and conditions of the warranty at the time, however, it is very comprehensive and covers the suspension, so it is picking up the cost for this. I can also renew it and for the ‘Comprehensive’ option which includes things like suspension and air-con – it’s around £330 with no excess and allows use of franchised dealers, which I think is very reasonable. Lex does have lots of two-, three and four-year-old ex-lease BMWs and based on my experience these are good cars.
    • That’s great you managed to get the air spring replaced without too much hassle Jon, but we’re very surprised Autokraft was able to supply a genuine OThat’s great you managed to get the air spring replaced without too much hassle Jon, but we’re very surprised Autokraft was able to supply a genuine OE part when BMW was not.   More ...
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    Perfectly Refined

    We take a first drive in the new 518d and 520d models /// #BMW-518d-F10 /// #BMW-520d-F10 /// #BMW-518d-F11 /// #BMW-520d-F11

    The best-selling four-cylinder diesel Fives were pretty good already but now they have been fitted with the new 2.0-litre engine they’re better than ever Words: Kyle Fortune. Photography: BMW.

    “Germans don’t do coffee,” says one of the journalists present. “Great at beer but terrible at coffee.” There’s nothing wrong with mine though; it’s strong, black and hot. It’s needed, too, after a 1.50am start to get to the airport. The occasion? The international launch of BMW’s new #BMW-518d and #BMW-520d , and the coffee discussion is at the lunch stop just outside Munich. No scrappy Moto or Extra service station here, but a proper Dinzler Kaffeerösterei stop, where the coffee is excellent and Germany’s reps and middle management are better catered for than the eye-wateringly expensive Costas and Starbucks that litter our motorway service stations in the UK.

    We’re not here to discuss the merits of crushed beans and hot water, though. We, like the target audience, have just driven here in BMW’s 5 Series fleet specials. The cynic in you could consider #BMW ’s 2002 introduction of EfficientDynamics as being timed a little too perfectly, the firm’s low CO² engines arriving at almost exactly the point in time when CO² -based taxation arrived on company cars. A candid conversation a few years ago with a BMW insider refuted that; BMW’s drive to efficiency was a curious and lucky quirk of timing rather than actually planned. Regardless, it has been at the top of the game since, though inevitably others have caught up. The new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that brought us here today is the firm’s response.

    In the UK last year the 5 Series took 14,445 sales, of which 11,296 were 520ds. That new engine is significant then, and the 518d is unlikely to make a huge impact on that, as its CO² rating of 114g/km is no different from that of its more powerful 520d relation. Economy is the same, too, at 65.7mpg on the combined cycle. That worsens to 60.1mpg and 124g/km if you opt for a larger wheel and tyre package. Opt for the eight-speed Steptronic automatic, as around 50 per cent of buyers will, and both achieve 109g/km in SE guise only and 65.8mpg – or 114g/km and 119g/km on Luxury and M Sport wheels respectively.

    Whatever way you look at it, those are some fairly incredible numbers. And they’re achieved without any sacrifice in performance; indeed, the 520d gains 6hp and 15lb ft (20Nm) of torque, yet returns around ten per cent better economy. The 520d delivers 190hp at 4000rpm, its peak torque of 295lb ft (400Nm) achieved between 1750-2500rpm, which helps a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox or 7.7 seconds with the automatic. Understandably, the 518d’s numbers are more modest: it develops 150hp at 4000rpm, while its maximum torque of 266lb ft (360Nm) is produced over the same rev range as the 520d. Although it’s slower than the 520d on paper, its 9.5-second manual (9.4-second auto) 0-62mph time underlining this, it doesn’t feel so outgunned on the road.

    Christian Hiemesch, Project Director Development Diesel Engines for BMW 5, 6 and 7 Series, explains that the new diesel engine family is already used in both the X3 and 2 Series Active Tourer. Designated B47, the 1995cc unit replaces the N47 engine. It’s a modular unit with 500cc cylinders allowing three-, four- and six-cylinder layouts. The B37 three-cylinder version will power the 216d Active Tourer for instance. The new engine is designed to be fitted transversely and longitudinally, for use in both MINIs and front-wheel drive BMWs.

    No such divisive drive in the 5 Series. Although xDrive four-wheel drive offerings mean some European markets will see power directed to the front, in the UK the 5 Series remains resolutely rearwheel drive. Like its predecessor, the B47 features EfficientDynamics technology to maximise economy.

    TwinPower turbocharging, Electric Power Steering and Brake Energy Recuperation all feature, while mapcontrolled oil pumps with variable vanes enable continuously adjustable control of the volume flow and pressure in response to the engine’s status. Thermodynamic efficiency is improved around the core of the engine, too, as has the starting characteristics of the Auto Start Stop function, the result being even less scavenging losses to auxiliaries.

    The variable intake ‘TwinPower’ turbochargers have been optimised with new roller bearings, while newly designed heat exchangers for the exhaust gas flow optimise cooling performance – to the benefit of a reduction in maximum combustion temperatures and efficiency. The common-rail injection system uses new solenoid valve injectors for more precise control of fuel flow, and allow increased injection pressure – of up to 2000bar. Friction reductions have been achieved thanks to thermally joined cylinder liners in the aluminium crankcase, while the stiffer case, along with balancer shafts, help to improve refinement.

    Those changes are obvious immediately; as in the 218d Active Tourer we’ve driven elsewhere in this issue (p28), the 2.0-litre turbodiesel’s refinement is exceptional, even more so when under the Five’s bonnet. There are absolutely no vibrations, so the smoothness and eagerness to rev are both very impressive, and the improved Auto Start Stop system is all but imperceptible in its operation – not least because of the engine’s near silence and lack of vibration. Choose Eco Pro via the Drive Performance Control switch and the earnest eco bias feels like you’re pushing an accelerator that’s attached vaguely to the engine, so the standard Comfort mode is preferable unless you value economy over all else.

    The dual-nature of BMW’s four-cylinder turbodiesels has always been their strongest point though. Even without much thought to efficiency they’ll return highly credible economy, and yet still produce effortless performance on demand. Ask for more and that keenness to rev is unlike the majority of BMW’s offerings, though it’s at its best when specified with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

    That optional Steptronic transmission helps achieve greater economy and emissions figures over the sixspeed manual. It does this by a number of measures, including an rpm-linked damper with engine specific tuning that allows lower rev driving without the usual compromises in vibration and acoustic intrusion. The longer ratios assist, too, as does a sat nav-linked predictive shift. The gearbox talks to the sat nav – even when not routing – to allow the optimum shifting strategy for the driving situation, as well as a coasting function in Eco Pro mode.

    The 5 Series diesel has come a long way from its 1984 524td beginnings with 115hp and 40.9mpg. Now if only UK customers were offered somewhere as nice to stop for a coffee on the road all would be right with the world.

    TECG DATA BMW F10 518d SE & 520d SE #BMW-F10 /// #BMW-F11
    518d SE 520d SE
    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, 16-valve turbodiesel Four-cylinder, 16-valve turbodiesel / #N47D20 / #N47
    CAPACITY: 1995cc 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 150hp @ 4000rpm 190hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 266lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
    TOP SPEED: 135mph (134) 146mph (144)
    0-62MPH: 9.5 seconds (9.4) 7.9 seconds (7.7)
    ECONOMY 65.7mpg (68.9) 65.7mpg (68.9)
    EMISSIONS: 114g/km (109) 114g/km (109)
    WEIGHT (EU): 1690kg (1700) 1695kg (1705)
    PRICE: £30,265 (£31,815) £31,965 (£33,515)
    Figures in brackets refer to eight-speed auto #ZF-8HP
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