The 2011 BMW 535i (F10) is an extraordinary car. It's fast, sporty, and luxurious. If I won it on The Price Is Right, I would gladly take the keyless fob. But...
I pine for a simpler, lighter car.
I close the door to the 535i and sit in the cockpit. I immediately notice the whine of the little electric motor to my left. It's the "soft close" door, which makes sure the door is properly closed. There are, of course, four of them in this car.
The driver's seat is snug. Everything is close to me, almost hugs me. It's very communicative and driver-oriented. A true cockpit. Then, I am overwhelmed by the buttons, controls, hard-to-decipher icons, and high resolution screens in front of me. Despite the sterile yet calming leather and wood trim, my mind is on overload. It takes me more than a minute to figure out how to operate the toggle transmission lever and put the car in reverse. The transmission, by the way, has EIGHT forward speeds (and five clutches).
I understand that cars are a lot safer now. They not only help in avoiding accidents, but they also reduce injuries when you crash. But just look at the progression-- in power, weight, and roominess-- of 535i's through the ages:
Notice the trends:
- Power has increased by about 50% since the E28.
- The car has become slightly faster over the decades.
- The F10's wheelbase is more than a FOOT longer than the E28's.
- Interior room is for the most part unchanged; and rear legroom is still nothing to brag about.
- The F10 is more than 1,000 pounds (half a TON) heavier than the E28.
We are over-coddled. There are simply too many performance sapping, and unnecessary, comfort features now. Imagine what the E28 would be like if it had a 300 horsepower engine. I'm not asking BMW to bring back the E28, but what if we just added stability control and maybe ten airbags to a 3,200 pound car?
Modern sports sedans need to go on a diet. Just think of the newfound agility (and improved fuel economy) that would be possible.
F10 photos via Autoblog.