Last post on Feb 16, 2013 at 11:05 PM
You are in the BMW 5-Series
What is this discussion about?
BMW 5 Series, Sedan
#3509 of 12737 Snagiel
May 02, 2002 (7:08 am)
Don't give up hope yet, according to a study I read somewhere, the number of cars sold with a manual transmission in 2001 actually went up to over 10% in the U.S. for the first time since the late 1980s or early 1990s.
I have always maintained that given the "Keep up with the Joneses" mentality here in the U.S. that there was only one sure fire way of making folks want a Stick Shift more than an Automatic transmission, simply, make the Manual transmission an EXTRA COST OPTION! Gasp, what am I saying? Relax, hear me out, I have told this story here at Edmunds before, however, I think it is relevant once again.
In the mid 1980s there was a period where the only 5-Series available here in the U.S. was the anemic 525e, which, if I remember correctly, was a low HP peak, high torque (relatively speaking) motor, and not too much fun to drive. BMW finally got the message that the “e” motors were not very well received by the enthusiast crowd, so they started offering the 533i, with an honest to God, high revving BMW motor in it (I am giving BMW the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe some old Rambler I6 motors were put in the “e” cars by accident ).
I was on a business trip to Los Angeles shortly after the 533i was released, and much to my delight, a friend of mine who I had made lunch plans with, showed up in his brand spanking new Black/Black 533i 5-Speed. This car was fully decked out with every other option that BMW offered on said car, and when I came out of my clients’ office, he simply tossed me the keys and said, “Let’s go!” Needless to say, “Away we went”. I drove up to the “Valley” and then down Mulholland Highway into the town of Malibu. Wow, what a great car that was, easily as great as the 525e was mediocre.
Once in Malibu, we found the restaurant that he wanted to take me to, and as we were turning into the parking lot, there, right in front of us was another brand new Black 5er, however, this one was a 525e (further examination revealed this to be a 525eA). The lady driving said 525e parked, and I parked right next to her, and as we were all getting out of our cars, she looked over at me with a very haughty, disapproving look, deliberately walked past the 533i giving it a quick once over in the process, turned to me and said, “Couldn’t you afford the Automatic?” My friend and I were so stunned that all we could do was laugh at her, so hard in fact that we almost fell to the ground. Wow did my stomach and smile muscles hurt after that.
Anyway, long story short, if the auto manufacturers make the manual transmission an extra cost option, then folks couldn’t say “Yep, I got her fully loaded, every option”, unless the popped for the third pedal as well.
May 02, 2002 (7:28 am)
Interesting theory; I haven't heard that one before, although I've certainly been puzzled over why the auto fetches a premium. I wonder if simply making the auto a no-cost option would have an effect as well.
Your story about the woman in the 525eA is hilarious, if only because I had a somewhat opposite experience last year. I had a nice meal at an upscale restaurant here in Atlanta, and as I was waiting to hand over my valet ticket, I heard a distinctive rumble from around the corner. I gazed over and spotted a gleaming 911 Turbo pulling up to the 40-something guy and his trophy wife. As the valet opened the door to exit, my reverent awe quickly gave way to disgust and horror as I spotted the automatic gearshift lever. I just shook my head and--probably the only person amongst the small crowd that was drooling over the car and its fortunate owner--actually felt sorry for him.
#3511 of 12737 Snagiel
May 02, 2002 (8:03 am)
When I was in school in San Diego, a friend of mine and I would always notice the choice cars tooling around with the "Take your breath away" type of young lady driving it. Our standard comment was, "Rag, as usual".
As I was building a mental image of what you saw in that 911 (the good and the bad), there were just too many snide comments that came into my head to even keep track of them all, much less write them (not that any of them would have been acceptable to our most generous hosts here at Edmunds anyway). Great story.
May 02, 2002 (8:52 am)
I might be able to add a little insight here (although as others have correctly stated - you have to drive them both yourself to decide). I currently own both a 2002 525iT and 1999 528i, with manual transmissions. The 525 has the sport package, while the 528 does not. Note that the wagon is slightly heavier (I don't know how much) than the sedan. For day to day driving around town there is very little difference. When driving hard, you will notice that the 525 is just slightly slower, but for the most part I find that I just end up running it at higher RPMs and have not really found it lacking. The fact that the 525 has the sport package actually makes it the preferable car to drive due to the vastly superior handling.
Before purchasing the 525, I did drive the automatic version and found it to be unacceptably slow feeling - much worse than the numbers would suggest, and much slower than my 528.
#3513 of 12737 Shipo
May 02, 2002 (9:54 am)
We live a few towns away (Closter) and are familiar with Chestnut Ridge Rd. from the Tice's Farm days. Just recently took a Sunday drive that way and passed by BMW HQ. Why don't you work there...you could walk to work!
#3514 of 12737 Power requirements
May 02, 2002 (10:16 am)
Its interesting that in Euro the rental cars Shipo posted you can get a 725i! And yet most here want more than a 2.5 liter in a 3er.having not been to Europe yet, i would speculate that high speed crusing and fuel mileage is the determining factor not 0-60.
#3515 of 12737 Good Comment
May 02, 2002 (10:43 am)
I'm never really enticed on the bigger engined version. For example,if I had more to spend than a 325i,I'd not consider a 330i;I'd go right to a 525i. And before I put a lot of money on a 5-series,I would want a 7.
#3516 of 12737 Auto vs. stick - Philosophical ramblings
May 02, 2002 (10:50 am)
Despite predictions of the demise of manual transmissions for at least the last 20 years, they continue to be sold in a variety of cars. I agree with Shipo and Snagiel that a stick is the preferred way to go, especially in a car of sporting character like a BMW. It enhances the driving experience from the standpoint of connectedness and control. Therefore it is that my 530i is. . . an automatic.
Why? I could invoke the blame-the-wife factor, but that would be copping out. My wife can drive a stick, but is of an age where she'd rather not. If I wanted to sell her on the idea of bringing a BMW home from Europe as a nice vacation souvenir, her condition was that it would have to be an automatic. In the end, I accepted that condition.
My Minimum Standards for Accepting an Automatic Transmission are that the car not be (a) small, (b) 4-cylinder, or (c) a sports car. Especially Standard C; my feeling is that a sports car without a stick is not really a sports car. As a former Corvette owner, it drives me nuts that most Vettes are sold with automatics. When shopping for my midlife crisis Vette a few years ago, it was hard to find one that met my requirements (good shape, low mileage, and cheap as hell) that didn't have an automatic. But since a 4-speed was also a requirement, I persevered. As a former Porsche owner (many years earlier, but same requirements), it drives me nuts that ANY Porsche is sold with any form of automatic.
A BMW 5 series is not a sports car. It is a sedan, albeit the finest mid-size sports sedan on earth. Although I would prefer a 530iM, I thoroughly enjoy our 530iA. If BMW didn't offer the choice, I would have no bimmer at all.
I also have my venerable '82 Datsun 280ZX 5-speed to fall back on. I have had at least one manual transmission car in the motor pool for 33 of the 36 years I've been driving -- including the last 30 straight -- and intend to continue doing so until my left leg atrophies.
#3517 of 12737 Re: Speeding Tickets in Germany
May 02, 2002 (11:20 am)
Haven't read the board here for a few days, but 20 or 30 posts ago there was talk about photo radar in Germany. I set one of those off on a secondary road last year (on my ED trip); didn't know what it was until too late.
Never did get a ticket. Thought it would be a cool souveneir (sp?) if I did. They may have figured out via the temp tags that I was a foreigner and didn't bother to send it.
Re: high speed testing on the autobahn: You really do need a long stretch of 6-lane autobahn... the fact is that people don't move over as quickly as they should. There's a good stretch just south of Mannheim (SW part of the country; A-5 or A-6, I can't recall). My friends in Frankfurt find excuses to go there for a test run when they get their new cars...
May 02, 2002 (12:59 pm)
Actually, that photo was seen on another board couple of weeks ago, and most agree that the photo is more than likely to have been photshoped. It is pretty good, but there a details that just does not fit from one picture to another, like the rear light assembly. Then again, maybe it is the real thing.