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    #Citroen #DS car at the dump

    The Citroën DS was found in the suburbs of Luton and looks to be in a bad way. A DVLA check confirms that it was last taxed back in October #2002 .
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    #1977 BMW E12 528 tested

    Top model in the range of five Series 5 BMWs. Single-carburettor engine now more responsive, but slightly less economical. Predictable handling, good steering, outstanding brakes. Noise levels considerably lowered, and ventilation better. A much more pleasing car, with all the eagerness expected of a BMW.

    Although it was our good fortune to run a #BMW-528 E12 for Long Term assessment, which was dealt with in two reports last year, we have not carried out a full Road Test of this model until now. Performance figures on a 528 were recorded in a comparison article dealing with all the 5-Series models, published on 10 May #1975 ( #Drive-MY remark).
    In all these reports, we criticised the E12 528 engine (BMW M30B28) for its jerky response, especially a hesitance when the throttle was re-opened after a spell on the overrun. Attempts to cure this on our Long Term car were never wholly successful. Non-standard jets in the carburettors made some improvement. but the problem was always there in some degree; so it was specially interesting to learn that among 35 improvements to the 5-Series cars introduced last year was included a change of carburettors for the #BMW #528 #E12 .

    In place of the former twin Solex compound carburettors, the latest car has a single #Solex 4A1 (E12 spec). BMW claim that there has been no loss of power, and the same 170 (DIN) bhp peak is quoted, though at 5,800 rpm instead of the former 6.000. .Maximum torque is given as 172 lb. ft. at - 1,000 rpm. instead of at 3.700 rpm.

    First impressions

    Most important of all was the question of whether the carburation change had cured the flat spot. When the car was first tried, the response to the throttle was extremely smooth once the engine was fully warmed-up, but the period of running on the automatic choke was marked by violent snatch and jerkiness. However, we are satisfied that this was due to no more than incorrect adjustment. The car was returned to the concessionaires, and when it was tried again, the automatic choke was working perfectly to the extent that it was difficult to detect an point at which the enrichment had cut out.

    There seems to be a problem in getting the carburation right for this engine without contravening, the European exhaust emission regulations, and there is a suggestion all the time that the mixture strength is perilously near the minimum that will burn satisfactorily. A suggestion of misfire was noticed at certain speeds when taking the fuel consumption figures in constant running. However, the former hesitance and snatch when opening the throttle gently hats been completely eliminated and in was a joy to experience the car without this age-old problem.

    A lot of work has also been done to reduce the noise level, and at moderate speeds the engine is generally notably quiet. The exception is when it is cold, when there is a lot of roar and harshness, and at tickover or very low speeds, a lot of exhaust “chatter” almost reminiscent of a two-stroke, is card.

    Starting is always immediate when cold, after flooring the acceptor pedal once to set the fast idle and the engine starts readily enough, although not always the first time, when it is hot. A strange failing for which we were not able to find a cause was a tendency to run a little erratically if the engine been switched off and allowed to stand for a few minutes, and when we tried a set of performance figures in this condition they were when much slower, adding as much as 10 sec to the time to reach 100 mph. We formed the impression that, for full power, the engine needs to be completely warmed through.

    Performance and economy

    It is creditable that BMW have can aged to halve the carburation (in effect, one twin-choke now instead of two) without any significant sacrifice in performance. We were actually able to get away from rest more cleanly than with the previous car reaching 30mph in 2.9 sec with a shriek of wheel spin for at least the first 20mph of speed build-up against a former best time of 3.1 sec. There is momentary wheelspin in the dry, when making the change up to second, and the BMW 528 E12 sprints on to 60 mph in a very creditable 9.0 sec, and attains 100 mph from rest in 29.0 sec.
    This is really spirited acceleration, and it reflects the response always available when driving on the open road. Above about 40 mph there is such good acceleration available in top gear that many drivers will be well satisfied by it even if they don’t bother to change down.

    Given near perfect conditions for testing on the Continent, we were not surprised to achieve a slightly higher top speed with a mean of 124 mph; and in the direction with the wind behind it, the car was very close to its rev limit at 6,350 rpm, and achieving a true speed of 126 mph. An automatic cut-out in the distributor limits engine revs to 6,400 rpm (cutting in at exactly the start of the red zone on the rev counter).

    The lines of the BMW 5-Series are clean, with the bumpers running right round the wings, to match up with rubber-faced rubbing strokes down the sides. The filler cap is under the flap on the right-hand wing. Note the towing eye beneath the-rear bumper.

    The six-cylinder engine is a fairly tight fit under the bonnet, and the aireleane takes up a lot of space. Routine service points, however, are all easy to get at.

    With maxima in the gears at 33, 58 and 90 mph. it's a little hard t6 say that the BMW 528 is under-geared. However, these figures reflect the free-revving nature of the engine rather than the choice of ratios, and in ordinary' driving one cannot help from feeling all the time that a higher final drive ratio than the 3.64-to-l actually used would transform the car. As ’it is. an early change has to be made from first to second, yet second is too high to start from rest; and when the change to top is made at about 60 mph one soon feels that another gear is needed for more relaxed cruising.

    A higher final drive would make all the indirect gears more effective in their own particular ranges, and would give quieter top gear cruising without the sense of fussiness which is noticed at present. We did. in fact, cover long journeys in the 528 E12 with the speedometer at or near the 100 mph mark, and in view of this, one cannot complain over-much about an over-18mpg fuel consumption Yet with higher gearing we feel it would sustain this sort of pace without the penalty of the marked dive in the fuel curve which takes place at present when the cruising speed is pushed up to the 100 mark.

    Even with a 15.4-gallon fuel tank, we found that stops for refuelling came embarrassingly frequently on a fast Continental trip, and it was a further nuisance that little more than 25 miles could be covered once the white fuel warning light had lit up. At the more moderate 85mph which many business motorists seem to cruise at in this country, there is little cause for complaint in the fuel consumption rate of around 20 mpg, though again this, too, would benefit from higher gearing. The overall consumption of 18.1 mpg is in disappointing contrast with the 20 mpg normally returned by the old long-term test 528 E12.

    In typical BMW fashion, the gear change is delightfully light, precise and so easy to use that one is couraged to change gear perhaps more than this smooth six-cylinder engine requires. The synchromesh very effective, and does not baulk en a slammed downchange. The “l through the lever is always that well-oiled cogs being moved realty into place. When accelerating really hard through the gears where is some lateral movement of e lever, and marked change in car attitude of the car as the marque is interrupted.

    Clutch take-up is smooth and its hearting load is very light. The start on our 1 in 3 test hill was heaved very easily, and the clutch is plenty of bite to set the rear heels spinning if it is released abruptly with full power.

    Handling, ride and comfort

    Power assisted steering is standard for the BMW 528 E12 and gives fair precision coupled with sufficient resistance wheel movement to let the driver well in close touch with the road an briefed newcomer may not even halide the steering has power assistance unless he takes note of the ease with which the steering is med at manoeuvring speeds. In history weather the car gets buffeted about quite a lot and it is in ease conditions that one could wish for the greater precision of a rack and pinion system instead of the worm and roller layout used.

    The assistance also disguises the amount of work done by the tyres in pulling the very nose-heavy car through fast bends, but it goes round well enough especially under firm acceleration. Roll angles in hard cornering are not excessive but the car does lean over noticeably, as is to be expected from its, rather high build. It remains very manageable when cornered hard, with consistent pronounced understeer.

    On wet roads, the back of the car can be prompted to slide rather more easily than it should, though when the appropriate correction is made by steering and throttle, it responds smartly, often with slight lateral rock as it finds its rear end grip again.

    Although like all BMWs, the 528 E12 has independent suspension all round, the ride is unexpectedly choppy on irregular surfaces. Single bumps or jolts are taken well, but undulations tackled fast tend to provoke a lot of sharp, bouncy vertical reaction. Tyre roar, however, is well subdued.
    The general noise level of the car is notably better than it used to be, with appreciably less mechanical noise at speed, and a useful reduction in wind noise around the screen pillars. Yet wind noise is still sufficient to be something of a problem with this body style, in spite of the closest attention to draught sealing, and does not match the refinement of the rest of the car.


    Disc brakes are used all round, with strong servo assistance and the characteristic “soft” German pads, which tend to wear rather quickly and throw a lot of black brake dust on to the wheels. These are the only criticisms, however, since the response to the brake pedal is excellent, with well over 1.0g efficiency recorded at a fairly moderate 60lb load or the pedal. The front discs are ventilated (only on the 528i E12), and effort on the rear discs is controlled by a pressure limiting valve.

    It takes a very strong haul on the handbrake, which is located between the seats, to hold the car on a 1-in-3 test hill, but it will just cope with this test drive. Only the smallest increase in pedal load was noted during fade testing, and recovery is quick when the brakes have become really hot. The hydraulic circuits are split front and rear.
    With so much servo assistance available, a little care is needed in hard braking on wet roads, since it is all too easy to make the rear wheels lock in such conditions.

    Fittings and equipment

    in its latest form, the 528 now has an electrically adjustable door mirror on the driver's side as a standard fitting. Controlled by a small toggle switch just ahead of the armrest, it works extremely well, and although the switch sometimes gets knocked, it is the work of a moment to readjust the mirror. A good, safe field of view is afforded.
    Ventilation has also been usefully improved by the fitting of four small directional outlets along the top of the facia — two in the centre and one at each end. They are controlled by the central sliding levers, one for each side, and have their own vertically and laterally adjustable little vanes to direct the air outlet to the front occupants' face. We found these very refreshing and a big improvement on the former arrangement of a central outlet only, which used to blow down the centre of the car without any useful effect for those in the front.

    It is disappointing that the heater is still a water-valve type, but it functions better than most of this kind. There is the usual delay, imprecision and hot smell when the control is turned on. coupled with backlash in the rotary adjustment; but we found with care, and with use of the cool air outlets to combat the stuffiness which is an inevitable failing of water-valve heaters, that it was possible to obtain comfortable ventilation in the car. This is certainly more than was ever possible before.

    The instruments are unchanged, siting a large and delightfully clearly marked speedometer and rev counter behind a single angled glass in front of the driver, to be seen through the upper half of the steering wheel. They are flanked by a fuel gauge on the left, and thermometer on the right. The trip mileometer has a touch-button reset, and the speedometer is accurate to 50 mph, then becoming steadily more optimistic, although it recovers at the lop end of the speed range.

    Minor controls are to either side of the steering column — a pull-out switch for the lamps, which is turned to adjust the intensity of the rather pleasing all-over-orange instrument lighting, and push buttons for the hazard warning flashers, rear fog lamps (standard), and a blank for a fourth switch.

    A separate column-mounted lever works the wipers, giving intermittent action as well as slow and fast speed, while it is pulled towards the wheel to give combined washers and five sweeps of the wipers.

    Four Hella halogen headlamps are fitted, which give good range without coming quite up to tin standard we have come to expect of halogen headlamps. There is sharp cut-off when dipped, and the asymmetric lighting is appreciated when the car is taken to Continent.

    As with many German cars, the seats tend to be rather hard, although correctly shaped, and afford a high seating position to give a commanding view over the front of the car. Vertical as well to-and-fro and backrest adjustment is provided for driving seat, which — in lion with vertical adjustment the steering wheel — enables driver exactly to tailor the driving position to suit him. Upholster, a in nylon cloth on the wearing surfaces, with PVC on the sides and backs, and there are useful map pockets on the backs of the seats, as well as open cubby-holes on the insides of the doors. The lockable under-facia compartment on left also houses a rechargeable torch, though we noticed that try item had already disappeared from the demonstrator by the time in came to us for test.


    At the sort of price asked for the one has every right to expect a great deal in terms of performance comfort and refinement. On the first count no one will be disappointed, but we feel there is still room for improvement in respect a noise, especially wind noise, and td some further refinement. It is a one comes to like very much indeed, yet is not, unfortunately one of those cars which is already so good that one feels that it that manufacturers change anything there is a danger they may spoil it. In particular, we would love to try it with the higher gearing it so badly needs.

    Above; Rear seal belts are standard, and passengers have generous lee and headroom. The front seat headrests which are standard fittings, have been removed here.

    Left: There is ample room for "on voyage" storage, with a drop-down locker in front of the passenger's knees. The fit of the carpet is very good and neat.

    A neat switch under the door armrest controls the electrically-operated mirror.

    Boot capacity is generous, since the compartment is deep and extends well forward of the final drive. A lockable release button opens the boot lid, and there is a drop down tool set in neatly recessed slots.

    MANUFACTURER: Bayerischce Motoren Werke AG Munchen 13 West Germany
    UK CONCESSIONAIRES: BMW Concessionaires GB Lid 991 Great West Road Brentford Middlesex TWS9ED.
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