2008 BMW 5-Series Performance

9.0
Performance

The 2008 5-Series has brilliant engines and smart transmissions. Avoid the active steering and you'll find its dynamic profile is world-class, too.

Edmunds calls the engine lineup "confusing" since the engine displacement doesn't correspond to the badge numbers anymore. The 528i has a 3.0-liter 230-hp inline-6; the 535i supersedes that with twin-turbocharging and output of 300 hp. The 550i gets a V-8 with 360 hp. In terms of power, Edmunds adds that the new six-cylinder engines shared with the 3 Series offer more power than the outgoing units, especially the 300-hp 535i that exhibits virtually no turbo lag. Car and Driver calls the six-cylinders excellent and the V-8 superb, but feels the twin-turbo six renders the V-8 obsolete, especially since the V-8 version is very expensive. The 528i feels capable of matching BMW's claimed 6.5-second 0-to-60-mph huff, they add. The New York Times agrees, reporting like the bears ' proverbial porridge, it delivers just-right heat, and adding that while the turbo six accelerates to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, the V-8 is only slightly quicker at 5.5 seconds.

The 2008 BMW 5-Series thrills with its turbocharged six and great road manners; the other engine options are almost obsolete in comparison.

Each engine can be combined with a 6-speed, either automatic or manual. On some models, the automatic has paddle shift controls; on others, all-wheel drive is an option. Car and Driver agrees that the smooth auto transmissions shift even faster now, though the New York Times says it adopts a spacey looking (and somewhat spacey acting) console shifter that is clumsy to press the shifter 's side button to toggle forward for reverse, back for drive. But the lever works beautifully when you use it to shift gears manually. Edmunds says it 's an unnecessarily different and complex way of doing a fairly straightforward thing.

Gas mileage ranges from 28 mpg highway on manual 528i sedans to 15 mpg city for V-8 manual sedans.

In terms of handling, the 5 Series "feels so natural that you barely notice turning the grippy, well-designed steering wheel," according to the New York Times. Car and Driver feels that The fine chassis is happiest with the six-cylinder engines, since the V-8 feels surprisingly ponderous and much larger than the smaller-engined cars 'still a gratifyingly fast and powerful four-door, but no longer a sports sedan. The available Active Steering trips up its driving demeanor, though; as Car and Driver adds, the schizophrenic steering is curiously twitchy and numb just off-center. Without the option, Automedia notes, relatively heavy steering helps impart utterly confident feel.

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