IN 5 HOURS, Inquirer Motoring learns 5 things to like about the soon-to-be unleashed BMW 5 Series.
It was in the middle of the 5th month of the year, and the summer midday heat, on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is the oven and 1 is the fridge) was a hellish 5. Inquirer Motoring was given just 5 hours to give the new BMW 523i (the base model of the 5 Series with a tag price of P5.79 million) a spin. On a heavy-traffic Friday, we toyed around with ?5? concept. With the sprightly intro of the ?Sesame Street? jingle playing in our minds, off we went, hoping this lovely F10 body powered by a straight-six 2497cc engine that could take us from 0-100 kph in 8.5 seconds and managed by an 8-speed transmission would take us where we wanted to go, in time.
We were to work our way from the farthest target. So we went to the TV5 station in Novaliches. Once there, suspicious guards finally agreed to have the BMW photographed beside the big TV5 logo (Manny the TV owner would have been proud. Hey, Manny has 5 letters, a ?Twilight Zone? moment!). On our way from TV5, we drove by the Flying V gas station. Photographer Niño Jesus Orbeta and I said, ?Hmm, hindi bagay (they don?t match).? No offense to Flying V, but the architecture of the 523i, based on the opulent 7 Series, sticks out like a sore thumb beside the gas station.
At Valle Verde 5 in Pasig, the 523i just blended in. But there was no time to lose. We had to find three more 5s.
By coincidence, at Bonifacio High Street, we found ourselves in front of the B-5 sign. We also passed by 5th Avenue and went to Manila to look for the 5-km signpost from Luneta?s 0-km mark. At Osmeña Highway, we realized that some drugged out fool must have etched over the 5-km post to make it look like 6. But then, in another ?Twilight Zone? moment, we realized later on that this 523i was the sixth generation of the 5 Series. Creepy! Five hairs on the back of my head must have stood up.
Nevertheless, we were still short of two 5s. Running out of options (and time), Niño and I went back to Fort Bonifacio. Out of sheer luck, and timing, the Fort?s large street-level speed screen registered exactly 55 kph as we passed by. And Niño Jesus just happened to click the camera at the perfect millisecond. Thank you, Child Jesus!
The exercise was draining but fun, and revealed to us the many technological innovations and ride characteristics of the new BMW 523i. Here are 5 of them:
1. The 5 Series? more driver-oriented cockpit. The instrument panel is fully oriented towards the captain. The cockpit is inclined towards the driver at a 7-degree angle and the asymmetrically designed center console likewise emphasizes this clear orientation to the driver.
2. Unlike the old E60 body which made one feel like driving a big car, the 523i?s new F10 body felt a notch more responsive, more refined and with a more sporty drive (it?s like driving an M3). But then, its longer wheelbase translates to a more comfortable ride for passengers (which can be likened to a 7 series).
BMW tech guys would call this the most advanced drivetrain and suspension technologies that ensure supreme sportiness, and an even higher standard of motoring comfort all in one. The optional Dynamic Driving Control enables the driver to set the suspension individually to his or her personal requirements.
The 2,968 mm wheelbase is the longest in the premium car segment.
3. The shorter overhang on front and rear which may account for the more direct command of the steering and reduced body roll. The predecessor E60 has 856 mm in front and 1,111 mm at the rear while the F10 has 832 mm in front and 1,099 mm at the rear.
4. The fourth-generation iDrive, now more user-friendly (I give five stars for this, after experiencing the intimidating iDrive of the 7 Series a few years ago). There are shortcuts for radio, menu, back switch for previous display, to name a few. There?s a Bluetooth interface that allows you to make a command such as dial a number and call. A more user-friendly i-drive makes it easier to operate in motion. The Control Display featured on the iDrive control system, which is a standard, is integrated harmoniously in the instrument panel. The space between the electronic gear selector lever and the climate control unit offers enough room for two cup holders and a key box, with further storage box behind the iDrive Controller.
5 Energy savings (brake energy regeneration). The battery indicator shows heretofore untapped energies such as braking and deceleration now utilized in the new 523i. BMW Efficient Dynamics technologies are featured as standard in appropriate combinations on each model, with features such as Brake Energy Regeneration (BER). BER uses the kinetic energy generated by the brakes to augment battery charging. The smaller and lighter alternator transforms to more power and less carbon emissions.
Asian Carmakers Corp, the official importer and distributor of BMW vehicles, will initially launch the BMW 523i and the BMW 523i Executive which retails at P6.09 million.
Yes, like the Germans who pay attention to the smallest of details, this article has been written in exactly 5,230 characters. Bimmer!