- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The latest iteration of 5-Series Sport sedans from BMW features new styling and lots of innovative high-tech mechanical developments that enhance not only the car’s appearance, but its performance prowess as well. The new 5-Series comprises three distinct models, each powered by its own specific engine.

• The 525i, base-priced at $39,995 (including destination charge) gets down the road with power from a 2.5-liter, 184-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine.

• The 530i sedan, starting at $44,995 is powered by a 3.0-liter straight-six pumping out 225 horsepower.

• The top-of-the line 545i, offered in two versions, both powered by a 4.4-liter, 325-horsepower V-8, first introduced in the 7-Series. The difference is in the choice of transmission and packaging. A 545i with a six-speed automatic gearbox and luxury appointments is priced at $54,995 while a 545i with the six-speed manual shifter and Sport equipment bases at $57,600. The latter example also offers the SMG (sequential manual gearbox) as an option. All engines reside beneath an aluminum hood.

New features and equipment for the 2004 5-Series four-door sedans include active steering, active roll stabilization and run-flat performance tires as part of a new performance package; optional heads-up display; optional active cruise control; optional rear-seat entertainment package, with video monitor, multimedia changer, wireless remote control and external source input jack; iDrive control system; available Sirius satellite radio; BMW ambient lighting; intelligent safety and information system for safety systems control; integrated front- and rear-seat head-protection system; available heated rear seats; and voice command system (included with the optional navigation system).

There’s even an adaptive brake-light system that increases the intensity of illumination with the force of brake application and an adaptive headlamp system that aims light in the direction steered.

Perhaps the most significant and impressive new feature is the active steering, which is exclusive to BMW in the U.S. market. The system varies the steering ratio, based upon vehicle speed and other driving conditions via an electromechanical process, thereby reducing the physical steering effort required in normally taxing situations.

The new 5-Series adopts many of the 7-Series design cues, though in a somewhat more conservative manner. It skillfully blends the practicality of a sedan with BMW’s legendary sportiness. Overhangs are short and the stance gives the appearance of leaning dynamically forward. Concave and convex surfaces are based on the subtle yet complex interplay of line and form in what ultimately becomes a display of clean and simple expression.

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