FEATURE STORIES

Five at the Farm

Five at the Farm image

Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted December 15, 2005 09:32

A drive with the E60 5 Series

The 5-series is one of BMW's most successful models which have been running for more than 33 years dating back to its first release in 1972. The first 5-series, the E12 which was born on September 1972, sold a total of 700,000 units in its production life.

The E28 was introduced in June 1981 as a successor to the E12, the highlight of the E28 was the introduction of the very first M5, a 268-horsepower performance version of the 5-series handbuilt at BMW Motorsport. The E28 sold a total of 725,000 units, 25,000 units more than its predecessor.

In 1988 came the E34 which first appeared as a 4-door coupe and later in 1992 a sport wagon or "touring" version was introduced. BMW increased production for this model and sold almost double the number of its predecessors at 1,300,000 units. Then came the E39 in 1995, which is one of the most successful and lauded model series in BMW history. The E39 M5 was the first M car to be equipped with traction control. It received numerous awards and is the best-selling 5-series so far at approximately 1,400,000 units.

The recently launched E60 model is a proof of its commitment to making the car the ultimate driving machine. It inherits the design mould of the 7-series, which is part of BMW Chief Designer Chris Bangle's protege designs. The E60 uses modern car building methods, making extensive use of aluminum evidenced by its body front sections and all-aluminum suspension.

BMW Philippines recently made us experience the new E60 by letting us drive it. How well do you expect to review a car unless you drive it yourself? As they say, you don't judge a book just by looking at its cover. This particular model was the 530d. Yes, the "d" stands for diesel, and no, don't get the misconception that this is a slow car.

Under the hood, a modern technology 3-liter diesel engine with turbocharger. The fuel delivery system utilizes a Common Rail Diesel Injection system for efficient delivery of fuel resulting in better performance and cleaner emissions. The variable boost turbocharger spools up to give the car that extra kick in overtaking and high speed driving. The 218-horsepower engine is mated to a fully electronic STEPTRONIC 6-speed automatic transmission.

The interior of the car features a combination of leather and wood trims. The luxurious feel of the interior is further emphasized by the well insulated interior which virtually filters out all unwanted outdoor noise. Electronically adjustable seats are also standard. Well laid out controls offer ease of use further improved by the i-Drive feature which integrates several controls which include entertainment, climate control, mobile phone, etc.

Innovative safety features include Active Front Steering (also known as steering assist) which compensates steering to the speed of the car through an electronic sensor. Brake Force Display enlarges the brake light area when the driver brakes sharply. When the driver applies the brakes hard, or upon activation of the ABS, the rear taillights join the brakelights at the same intensity to warn the vehicles behind that hard braking is taking place. This technology uses Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology and offers an extra split second for the driver behind to react to heavy braking ahead. Adaptive headlights are also standard which automatically adjust the light to match the direction of travel for ease of driving and safety as well. A 6-channel parking sensor is also standard for ease of parking and tight street driving. SRS airbags, side impact beams and crumple zones are also standard.

The drive was conducted from the Bonifacio Global City to The Farm in San Benito, Batangas. For the first half of the drive, this writer was given the feel of being a passenger to study all the features of the car. As we reached the STAR Tollway in Batangas, a driver change was made. As the new driver, I excitedly hopped into the driver's seat and made the necessary seat adjustments for my driving experience. As I slowly accelerated to the highway, I immediately felt the responsive throttle as I stepped on the accelerator pedal. After a few seconds I suddenly realized we were already running 200km/h. Steering response with the help of the Active Steering System was very good as I navigated through slow cars on the highway. Brake feel was very responsive as it translated my foot pressure on the pedal to slowing down the car.

Interestingly, the interior feel was just how I expected it to be. Everything was just in the right place. I found the i-Drive control to be quite useful coupled with the OSD from the LCD monitor. With the impeccably low NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), it was stress free driving towards The Farm. Overall, the car is truly an ultimate drive. The looks however are a little too much for me, nontheless, the performance makes up for this. Now my dilemma is where to get 4-million pesos, so that I can get myself one of these.