2008 BMW 5-Series Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 BMW 5-Series was new.
The 5-Series is praised for its fulfilling combination of strong powertrain options and superb handling dynamics.
- "As for its driving characteristics, it is everything you come to expect from BMW." - AutoWeek
- "Great handling is mandatory for BMW, and the 535i sticks to the road with delightful balance." - Kansas City Star
- "There's simply nothing like stomping the loud pedal, hearing those turbos spool up and getting punched back in the seat by raw, unadulterated power, which in the 5 continues well into triple-digit speeds." - Edmunds
- "The BMW 5 Series earned its deserved reputation as the supreme midsize sport sedan almost on driving dynamics alone." - Kelley Blue Book
- "Well-balanced, agile, always composed, the kind of sport sedan rivals strive to match, though one test 528 was prone to sudden losses of grip when cornering on rough surfaces." - Consumer Guide
- "BMW, better than any manufacturer, manages to blend crisp handling with a smooth ride, and the 550i is no exception." - Orlando Sentinel
- The $50,000 535i "a blast to drive" that is "well worth the money." - Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power
While most reviews are ambivalent about the base 528's engine, the 535 and 550 are praised for being both smooth and powerful. According to BMW, the manual 550i can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The 528i, with a six-speed manual transmission, has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The 535i, with an automatic transmission, gets an EPA estimated 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The 550i, however, has a city/highway fuel economy of 15/22 mpg when equipped with a manual transmission.
- - "The 528i is powered by a 230-hp inline-six-cylinder engine. While its power is adequate, it didn't supply any of the visceral thrills that most BMWs offer. There is a slight delay in acceleration off the line or when trying to hustle out of slow-moving traffic." - Cars.com
- "Power delivery in the 535i is very linear, even with the turbochargers, meaning that you'll get the same response and acceleration whether the engine is turning 2500 rpm or 5000 rpm when you step on the gas. There's virtually no turbo lag in this engine." - New Car Test Drive
- "The test 535xi could zoom forward after just a hint of a lag when the gas pedal was slammed down. I found the car moving aggressively to claim openings in traffic and bound up hills." - Associated Press
- "The silky smooth power of the [535's] new twin-turbo six-cylinder is an enthusiast's delight. This is BMW's first production twin-turbo engine. It has direct fuel injection and an all-aluminum crankcase. Noise and vibration are minimal because an inline engine is inherently smooth." - Kansas City Star
- "With nearly 300 fewer pounds, we surmise that the rear-wheel-drive 535i would tie the V-8 model (which, by the way, isn't available with all-wheel drive) on the drag strip. The tie breaker? Fuel economy. At 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway, the manual-transmission 535i boasts a significant 2- and 4-mpg advantage, respectively, over the stick-shift 550i." - Car and Driver
- "All models get a six-speed manual standard, with a six-speed Steptronic automatic as an option. The rear-drive 530i and 550i can also be had with BMW's sequential manual gearbox (SMG), a sophisticated transmission that combines the control of a manual with the ease of an automatic." - Edmunds
- - An unusual dissent: "We did find the automatic perform with a bit of uncertainty at times, seeming to shift hard one moment only to smooth out nicely the next." - Auto Week
- + "While the 2008 BMW 5 Series is the most technologically advanced entry in the luxo-sport sedan category, the fact that it's the only one to offer a manual transmission more accurately captures the basis of its appeal." - Kelley Blue Book
Handling and Braking
Most critics agree that the 2008 BMW 5-Series offers impressive handling. In addition to a smooth ride, it stops confidently and easily conquers sharp corners.
- "If you can find a premium luxury sedan with better ride and handling, buy it." - Washington Post
- "Handling, as expected in a BMW, was exceptional. The car body was well-controlled in all maneuvers, giving the feeling of it hunkering down securely over the wheels even over some busy road surfaces." - Associated Press
- "An extremely balanced machine that can handle aggressive driving maneuvers on winding back roads as well as it dispatches weekday commutes on crumbling expressways." - Edmunds
- "Steering is about the best in the business, though it can feel a bit too heavy at low speeds for some folks." - AutoWeek
- "Although designed with a little understeer, the 535i handled hard corners well, with the rear end giving a satisfying kick out." - CNET
- "It's a rewarding car to drive, but not in the traditional definition of luxury. Rather than wafting around town on a cushion of Cool Whip, it feels more like a go kart that's been outfitted with leather seats and all kinds of crazy gadgets. It's bumpy, powerful, exciting and high-tech." - The Cullman Times
- The brakes "slow the car from high speed in sports car fashion, and they hold up under harder use than any driver is likely to dish out. Even after repeated stops that would smoke the brake pads on lesser cars, the 5's brakes show very little fade." - New Car Test Drive
- "BMW brakes are among the best around, and the 535i stops with authority." - Kansas City Star