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November 14, 2002
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What's new for 2003 BMW 5 Series


 


More standard features for 525i and 530i, new Sport Packages for 540i models

Photo: BMW

For 2003, the 5 Series benefits from a range of evolutionary and thoughtful changes. Key points include:

  • The available BMW Onboard Navigation System has been re-engineered. It now uses a DVD database that encompasses the entire U.S.; does its computations faster than before; and has other functional improvements.

  • A rear-seat Head Protection System (HPS) becomes standard in all sedan models.

  • Pre-wiring for an auxiliary input has been added to all audio systems.

  • A power moonroof becomes standard on the 525i and 530i models.

  • The 525i models' optional Premium Package adds rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlight control.

  • 525i models also get a new Radial Spoke standard wheel design.

  • The 540i sedan offers a new, more extensive Sport Package that includes 18-inch wheels and tires, the first offered in this Series. (The 540i sedan with 6-speed manual transmission, which comes standard with sport equipment, gets corresponding content.)

  • The 540i sport wagon's Sport Package is also greatly expanded, though this model retains 17-in. wheels and tires.

"At the risk of sounding like a broken record," began Automobile Magazine in its February 2001 issue, "we will say again what we have been saying for the past four years: The BMW 5 Series is the finest mid-price luxury sedan in the world." BMW is grateful that this authoritative publication put it this way; we would not like to sound like a broken record ourselves.

There is a risk of that. Even though a spate of new contenders has added to BMW's competition in this class, the 5 Series remains the widely accepted leader among luxury sport sedans and sport wagons. Declaring the 525i sedan and sport wagon "best luxury car under $40,000," Automobile Magazine (February 2002) explained, "Although the 525i is first in the 5 Series lineup, nothing at all about it feels entry-level. The magic of the 5 Series family - of every BMW product, perhaps - is that each variant has a distinct and compelling personality. So choosing the 525i, with its smaller engine, can be justified by something greater than its smaller price tag."

Looking toward the other end of the 5 Series price and performance spectrum, Car and Driver's September '01 issue compared the 540i sedan with six of its competitors and declared it "a perfect 10." The magazine raved about its "Dream Street powerplant" and "sensational balance between handling and comfort." That same month, Road & Track compared the 540i with three rivals and concluded, "If you're in search of a satisfying, performance-flavored do-it-all sport sedan, any or all of these four belong on your shopping list. And so far, the BMW 540i Sport remains at the top of ours." ["Sport" refers to the Sport Package, which the C/D test car also had.]

These examples of the extensive critical praise garnered by the BMW 5 Series capture the essence of its masterful blend of luxury and sporting performance. Once again for 2003, the 5 Series consists of five models:

  • 525i sedan - the most accessible model, with a 2.5-liter 6-cylinder engine.

  • 525i sport wagon - powered by the same engine as the 525i sedan.

  • 530i sedan - upgraded, higher-performance 6-cylinder model.

  • 540i sedan - V-8 model, available in two forms: Automatic and 6-Speed.

  • 540i sport wagon - the ultimate in performance and cargo versatility; surely one of the sportiest sport wagons on the globe.

(Nov. 11, 2002)


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