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TheCarConnection.com's editors have prepared this preview of the 2011 BMW 5-Series sedan and wagon from information and photos released by the manufacturer. TCC's editors will update this 5-Series preview as BMW releases more data, and will bring you their Bottom Line road test summary as soon as vehicles are provided for test drives.
Say auf wiedersehen to today's BMW 5-Series. A new lineup of sedans and wagons is brewing, and BMW has released the basics on the new four-door sedan due to arrive in the U.S. next year as a 2011 model. The new version shares running gear with the 2010 BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo driven by TheCarConnection.com earlier this year; it also has some close relationship with the latest BMW 7-Series, which was new for 2009. Though it's new from the ground up, the latest 5er still competes against the sedans you'd expect: the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Audi A6, the Lexus GS and the Infiniti M.
As it did with the latest 7-Series, BMW's left the oddly proportioned themes championed by former design chief Chris Bangle on the drawing-room floor. This time, the 2011 5-Series reacquaints itself with classically BMW proportions-lean glass areas, a steeply raked windshield, and a long-hood stance that's much more muscular than today's car. The 5-Series' wheelbase has grown longer, giving BMW chief designer Adrian von Hooydonk more expanses and surfaces to give the mid-size BMW a distinct identity. BMW says the 5's forward-tilted grille, tightly cornered Hofmeister kink (the curve at the roof and the rear pillar), and the gently curves shoulders create a standout shape that's scented with coupe-like appeal. Inside, the 5-Series benefits from a fresh take on function: the old car's dark, overstyled shapes have been smoothed out and cleaned up, with handsome expanses of wood trim outlined in delicate metallic lines. Four large gauges have an LCD sub-panel that can indicate navigation and secondary displays. It's a "fresh ambiance," BMW says, and TheCarConnection.com's witnessed in the Gran Turismo, the 5-Series' new interior is more open and instantly appealing than the prior car. Per the BMW philosophy, controls for the driver only are to the left of the steering wheel; shared controls for driver and front passenger rest in the center stack and console.