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2012 BMW 528i xDrive

Posted Sep 7th 2012 11:57AM

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A new segment of four-cylinder luxury



As the grandfather of the Sport Sedan, the 5-series BMW typically didn't stray too far from the core product. There were a couple of six pots, a V8 and then there was the tweaked M5 mill. But like all cars today, the foundations are being shaken and the thought of anything other than a six, eight or later a 10 cylinder motor in the 5-series seemed off. Well purists have been in for a shocker for the 2012MY because the M5 is no longer an NA masterpiece and the straight-six can only come force fed as well.

Yes, our 528i xDrive was powered by a four-cylinder turbo, which on paper bests the outgoing 3.0L six in every way. This new 2.0L turbo was a natural to place in the new F30 3-series and we argued that it might be in fact a better buy than a 335i – more sacrilege! But what about sleeving the turbo-four into a luxury staple like the 5-series with its massive footprint and offered in cumbersome xDrive configuration? It seemed all so unorthodox.
Related Gallery2012 BMW 528i XDrive





With 241 horsepower and a broad application of 258 lb-ft,
the engine appears like it is up to the task.

With 241 horsepower and a broad application of 258 lb-ft, the engine appears like it is up to the task. They do have diesel versions in Europe after all, so it isn't all about the numbers but then again our market is still warming up to luxury diesels as well. However, this sedan tips the scales at over 4,000-pounds, coming in at 1,850 kg and one has to wonder if this model was going to leave any semblance of sport left in the sedan.

Exterior wise, the 528i xDrive is identical to the 2011 model. It is by all accounts, a great looking car and a return back to the soul of a BMW as opposed to the outgoing E60 model, which was a departure. Our tester came slathered in deep Carbon Black Metallic paint, which showed off some of the great sharp creases sculpted into in the profile, hood and front bumper of this F10 chassis. Our car was equipped with the $3,500 M Sport Package which included a rear spoiler and 18-inch M Wheels (Standard shown in pictures).




It is by all accounts, a great looking car and a return back to the soul of a BMW as opposed to the outgoing E60 model, which was a departure.

Crack open a door to the 528i xDrive and you are clearly immersed in BMW's world. The M Sport Package also includes the comfort seats, aluminum hex trim, as well as anthracite on the headliner and pillars. From there, five more packages and in this loaded sedan add a wealth of technology to the cabin of the 528i. The $3,900 Premium Package was selected, which blesses the Cinnamon seats with supple Dakota leather and lumbar support in addition to comfort access, a rear-view cam and rear-seat pass through. The $1,900 Technology Package added: high-beam assist, lane departure warning, active blind-spot monitoring and surround view cameras which definitely come in handy negotiating this large sedan around a dense city. Then there was the Premium Sound Package that added $1,200 to the price but amped up the beats with a Professional Hi-Fi sound system and included SIRIUS satellite radio. The $2,000 Navigation Package added even more on the total but it is a capable system that includes voice recognition and will receive all of the Connected Drive updates we profiled earlier this summer.

Our tester also had the $300 BMW Apps option that allows smartphones to connect seamlessly and interact with: Facebook, Twitter, Internet Radio and more. Yes, it may sound gimmicky but BMW is truly on the ground floor with this and we're eager to see where they take it. Slap on another $550 for heated rear seats and the tester has a load of money spent on the interior but hey, Bluetooth and USB connectivity are free of charge.




The M Sport Package also includes the comfort seats in, aluminum
hex trim and anthracite on the headliner and pillars.

Various packages, options and standalones aside, we were most interested in the core of this new 5er, the turbo powerplant. At first we thought there is no way this engine will push around a car that is larger than say an E38 seven series of yesteryear. Well, around town the vehicle doesn't seem all that eager to do much but mash the gas and the M Sport transmission charges through all eight gears quick-time. Once rolling, the acceleration is impressive but from a dig, it gives up ground to the rear wheel drive 528i, which does 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in only 6.2s whereas the xDrive does it in 6.6s... both beating the outgoing 7-second run of the N55-powered 2011.

At the same time, having the turbo-four under the lid of a car this expensive is well, unusual. We can't think of another car this expensive with a four cylinder at all, except for maybe a Lotus Elise? The 2.0-litre engine lacks the memorable sounds of the straight-six and for that reason alone, we'd like to see more sound deadening in the cabin. Then there is the extra vibration of the smaller motor translating into the headrest and other parts of the cabin that made us long for massive fluid-filled motor mounts and a harmonic damper. Again, this is just what we're accustomed to here in North America, in Europe (or in smaller cars) these traits are widely accepted meaning this is progress and the efficiency has soared to offset these changes.



Hit the Sport mode button and the 528i xDrive is ready to carve.

Hit the Sport mode button and the 528i xDrive is ready to carve pavement. The snappier throttle, shifts and stiffer suspension enables the car with decent handling characteristics and all that weight loss up front allows for a more neutral feel in this chassis. The xDrive system sends 40 per cent up front and 60-percent to the rear but will direct power fore and aft when there is wheel slippage.

During our lively tests, the sedan bit-in fairly well and cornered relatively flat thanks to the combination of chassis refinement and the capable xDrive system. The brakes of course are BMW and if you have written one review on them, you can always bank on solid, capable braking characteristics.



All said, we enjoyed our week with this fully jammed 528i xDrive.

All said, we enjoyed our week with this fully jammed 528i xDrive. But we have to note, the total package tipped the balance to $70,250 plus $1,995 for destination to really push it up there. What you get is a highly advanced, great looking sedan, a timeless and high-tech laden interior with fuel economy that doesn't even seem physically possible. The 528i xDrive will achieve 9.1 L/100km in the city thanks to Efficient Dynamics and a scant 6.2 L/100km on the highway with a combined of 7.8 L/100km -- for a large AWD sedan!

While the tiny four seems to be foreign in this hulking chassis, it can provide the driving dynamics worthy of the roundel but we did wonder if it could have been executed a tad quieter and smoother. BMW is clearly ready to usher in change, we'll just see if the market can come to grips with having their luxury car expectations rattled a bit.

Image Credit: Copyright 2012 Dave Pankew / AOL

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