2011 BMW 5-Series
With sporty moves and room for a family, BMW’s midsize 5-Series sports sedan has long been a segment benchmark and a MotorWeek favorite. But the all-new 2011 5-Series is something of a renaissance. While still packing a technology and powertrain wallop, it appears less aggressive and more executive. So let’s see if this really is progress.
Right off the mark, our visual take on the 6th generation 2011 BMW 5-Series is that it reminds us a lot more of the current flagship 7-Series than its direct predecessor. Yes, the twin kidney grille is naturally still there, but the previous 5’s Bangle-ized eyebrows are gone.
On the profile, the look is smoother but the character lines are more defined, all stretched over a 2-inch longer body, with a more telling, 3.2 inch longer wheelbase. The L-shaped LED taillights mimic the 7, while the rest of the toned down rear also looks more business than pleasure.
Top and bottom power are familiar. The 528i dons a three-liter straight six, rated at 240 horsepower, a bump up of 10. The 550i borrows the 7’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo 400 horsepower V8. Our 535i has the new powertrain, BMW’s latest 3-liter that trades two turbos for one twin-scroll unit. Output is unchanged, however, at 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque.
A proper 6-speed manual is still standard on the six-cylinders, while optional with a six and standard on the V8 is BMW’s new gas saving eight-speed automatic.
Indeed, lots of Efficient Dynamics technologies have found their way into the 2011 5-Series, including regenerative brakes, electric power steering, and engine accessories that only produce engine drag when in use. Later in the year, x-Drive all-wheel drive will become available across the 5-Series lineup.
It didn’t take more than a few minutes at the track, however, to reassure ourselves that this more sedate looking 5 hasn’t dialed back performance one bit. Quick shifting our 535i’s manual delivers 0 to 60 in an impressive, and quite quiet, six seconds flat. The quarter mile mark came up in 14.5 seconds at 98 miles per hour. Both numbers getting close to the 5-Series GT V8 we tested last spring.
Just as laudable was our average 60 to 0 stopping distance of a very short 116 feet. The pedal wasn’t the firmest, but feedback was good, and fade nonexistent, from the all-wheel vented disc brakes.
Still, our handling test would be the big hurdle, an area where the previous 5-Series was a champion. Turn-ins are still quick, even if the electric power steering is a little numb. More curb weight means slightly more body roll, even in stiffer sport mode, but there’ s still little lack of poise, thanks to a new multi-link front suspension. So, when all was said and done, we were very happy.
I didn’t want to like the new 2011 BMW 5-Series. It got bigger, more luxurious, and less like the cars that I’ve always loved. Or so I thought. Sitting behind the wheel, it does feel like a 7-Series, and out on the highway it’s so smooth and quiet. But on back roads when you turn that wheel, well, everything I’ve always loved about a BMW sports sedan is front and center. My conclusion the new 5-Series is a great car.
Inside, the new 5’s interior also takes on the 7’s more luxurious appeal. Our 535i came dressed to really impress with optional wood trim. BMW’s sensible, classy, horizontal architecture now has well-integrated 21st-century touches like adaptive cruise control and a lane departure warning system.
The fourth generation of iDrive appears either on a seven-inch screen recessed atop the now canted center stack, or with optional navigation on a larger 10.2-inch screen.
Rear seat knee room improves very slightly, while comfort is still above par for second-row passengers. 40/60 split-fold functionality is optional, as is a center pass-through.
In Government Fuel Economy Ratings, our manual 535i is rated at a decently frugal 19 miles per gallon city/28 highway. We managed an average of 22.3 miles per gallon on premium gas. On sale now, the 528i starts at $45,425. Our 535i begins at $50,475, and the 550i has a base sticker of $60,575.
With equal parts thrill and finesse, BMW has clearly taken the right path with this thoroughly modern car. Moreover, the 2011 BMW 5-Series remains one slick-shifting, fine-driving, midsize German sports sedan icon.
- Engine: 3-Liter Turbo
- Horsepower: 300
- Torque: 300 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 6.0 Seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5 Seconds @ 98 MPH
- 60-0 MPH: 116 Feet
- EPA: 19 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
- Mixed Loop: 22.3 MPG
2024 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Bringing Supercar Performance To The Street…American Style
What happens when you let enthusiasts and engineers worry less about tradition and allow them to do what they do best? You get cars like this Chevrolet Corvette Z06. What happens when GM let’s us borrow one for a few days? That’s what we’re about to find out!
While the Z06 package first became an option for the Chevrolet Corvette back in 1963, it wasn’t until the C5 that it describe the ultimate track-focused ‘Vette. And while since then every Z06 has gotten more extreme, if we were plotting things out on a graph, this is where the line of performance progression goes from a steady incline to almost vertical. Yes, the latest C8 Z06 is all that.
It starts with a brand new LT6 5.5-liter DOHC V8 that outputs 670-horsepower and delivers 460 lb-ft. of torque. It sounds great too, the very aggressive nature of its flat-plane crank design has it sounding, and feeling like it’s trying to shake its way out of the engine bay unless you unleash some of its furry.
This dual-cammer featured a dry-sump design from the get-go and is more racing engine than souped-up small block, being developed originally for the C8.R race car.
It made short work of Roebling Road Raceway’s long front straight, able to reach 160 by the end of it. With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
But, as you can imagine, Chevy has done much more than just plop a bigger motor into its rear-midship engine bay, which was easier to do since they didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing over it. They’ve addressed just about every part of the car to ensure it puts that power to best use for coming out of corners like few other cars on the street.
That includes upgrades for the short/long arm double wishbone suspension setup that can be further enhanced with an available Z07 Performance Package that adds more aggressive tuning for Magnetic Ride Control, and Michelin Sport Cup 2R tires. Which can be mounted on 20 and 21-inch carbon fiber wheels with carbon ceramic brakes nestled behind.
It all translated into more grip than a semi’s worth of industrial strength Velcro through Roebling’s 9-turns.
With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
Like most Corvettes, the Z06 can be as wild or mild of an experience as you care to make it but will most likely be the fastest car to show up at most track days. Yet, the same magnetic dampers that void all body roll on the track, provide an almost plush ride quality for the drive home, though not quite as plush as the standard Corvette.
We’re struggling to find something non-fan boy to say; sure the 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t deliver shifts with the brutality of some exotics, but really, they’re just as fast, and the shifts are much smoother.
Believe it or not, almost all the body is unique. So, rather than just tacking on some fender flares, Chevy made the entire car wider to cover the 345 rear tires, yet keep the same uniform look in place.
The optional Carbon Fiber Aero Package adds a front splitter, rocker extensions, front dive planes, and a huge rear wing. We’re not sure if the multi-level nature of that rear wing was done for functional or aesthetic reasons, but it doesn’t block your rearview, and that is much appreciated.
We always talk about torque being more important than horsepower when it comes to acceleration, and the Z06 works with almost 200 fewer lb-ft. of torque than horsepower, but you sure wouldn’t know it when you mash the throttle.
Easy to use programmable launch control allows you to dial in your preferred RPM for launching; we found 4,500 was just about perfect for Roebling’s front straight, allowing for just a tiny bit of slip before rocketing us to 60 on a 40 degree day in just 2.6-seconds.
Power continues to pour on hard as the engine quickly hits its 8,600 RPM redline, and gear changes happen often. The sound inside the cabin in intense, and when the ¼-mile came to an end in 10.7-seconds at 130 miles-per-hour, it felt like it was just getting started.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a low 12-City, 19-Highway, and 14-Combined.
For the Z06 there are 3 LZ pricing points to land on, starting at $114,395; but you can go with the top-of-the-line Z06, add 50-grand worth of options, and still come out half the price of anything you can compare it to.
Call us home teamers all you want, but America’s only exotic does it yet again, not only is it the best Corvette ever, but it is also easily one of the greatest American cars of all time, arriving at a particularly poignant time culturally as we mourn the potential loss of internal combustion engines altogether. So, come for the spectacular engine and stay for the complete performance package, and experience, that is the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
- Engine: 5.5-liter V8
- Horsepower: 670
- 0-60 mph: 2.6 seconds
- EPA: 12 City | 19 Highway | 14 Combined
- Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch auto
- Torque: 460 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 10.7-seconds at 130 mph