The BMW 5-series puts an emphasis on the driving experience. Now in its sixth generation, this mid-size luxury car remains a true sports sedan by delivering aggressive styling, precise handling and outstanding safety.
Available in rear-wheel, or xDrive all-wheel drive, the 528i features a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic with Steptronic. Standard features include leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control with active micro-filtration, a 12-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, HD radio, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloy wheels, electric power steering, and iDrive control system with integrated owner's manual. Safety is provided by six airbags, active anti-whiplash front head restraints, electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring and BMW Assist telematics and bi-xenon adaptive headlights.
For 2014, there are subtle styling changes inside and out, a navigation system with real-time traffic and a new touch-pad is now standard, and LED headlights are now an option.
Less is more with the Mini Roadster, at least for anyone who prioritizes top-down driving fun over passenger capacity. Like its Coupe sibling, the Mini Roadster is a 2-seater thanks to its elimination of a rear seat—although the 8.5 cu ft. of cargo capacity is more than you’ll find in the standard Mini Cooper. The Roadster’s lowered stance and sleek roofline look great from most angles, even more so with the top stowed away. The top itself is manually operated and features a glass rear window. A reinforced windshield and twin stainless-steel rollover bars are present for extra chassis rigidity and safety. There are three levels of performance for the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine: the 121-bhp base Cooper, the 181-bhp Cooper S, and the 208-bhp John Cooper Works. The last is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission, while the other models also can be ordered with a 6-speed automatic.
The 5 Series may be the middle child in BMW’s lineup, but it doesn’t suffer from the always-forgotten middle-child syndrome—situated between the smallish 3 and gigantic 7, these sedans and wagons offer just-right sizing. The 528i starts things off with a 3.0-liter 230-bhp inline-6 that works hard to move the 5’s 3500-lb. mass. Things pick up with the twin-turbo 535i, which, although less powerful than the 360-bhp V-8 550i, handles better due to its almost 300 lb. lighter curb weight. All-out performance junkies should look to the legendary M5 and its 500-bhp
V-10. Although the 2010 5 Series is carry-
over (save for an upgrade to the latest 7-button iDrive system), an all-new 5 Series will arrive in the second quarter of 2010 as a 2011 model.
Mercedes’ AMG-built CLK Cabrio gets a steel-top garage-mate this year, in the form of the near-race-ready CLK63 Black Series coupe. The closed car not only promises to weigh less than its topless counterpart (it has no rear seats), but boasts an additional 25 horses—bringing its output to a nice, round 500 bhp, funneled through an AMG-massaged 7-speed automatic. In either car, AMG’s home-built 4-cam V-8 sports impressive credentials, including variable valve timing and intake, and all-aluminum construction. Composite brake rotors spin behind staggered-width 18-in. wheels, with sport-tuned suspension in control. AMG also improved the interior with specific sport seats front and rear, Nappa leather, aluminum trim and a special steering wheel. Navigation, active ventilated seats, Keyless Go and a Designo interior are among the several options.
Like its big brother the X5, the raked-roof X6 enters 2012 with little change, but the expectation of a freshening for 2013. Separating itself from the slightly less expensive X5, the X6 gives up practicality for its swoopy styling. This unfortunately, limits rear seating to only two, making the X6 positively inefficient. The X5 gets identical fuel economy numbers and is larger. What's more, the X6 doesn't offer a diesel. Instead, there's an ActiveHyrbid model that combines its twin-turbo V-8 with dual-electric motors to produce 575 lb.-ft. of torque while still retaining a respectable 17/19 mpg. When it comes to sitting behind the wheel of a sporting behemoth, no vehicle defies physics as well as the X6 M.