How Chris Bangle Saved The World: The 2006 BMW 5 Series
What makes a car perfect for one person, and hopelessly inadequate for another? The 2007 BMW 5 Series balances the needs of the family with those of the sports car minded driving enthusiast. Combining mind boggling good looks, with class-leading luxurious cabin, and sports car handling/driving characteristics, the 2007 BMW 5 Series enables you to take the entire family to Disneyland without feeling claustrophobic or compromising driving.
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He’s mad, they all said. Then they all started copying the BMW design chief’s ideas. Whether you like his work or loathe it, Chris Bangle is the most influential car designer of the 21st century. His ‘visual energy’ was a hallmark of many of the new cars at the recent Frankfurt and Tokyo motor shows. Before Bangle, premium cars followed the lead of Mercedes and more recently Audi – were organic, clean, simple designs. Modern cars are fussier, busier, multi-angled, sharper edged. That’s the Bangle influence.
Bangle himself won’t comment on his favorite BMW, but claims the new 5-Series “is the most avant-garde product we have ever done.” The previous BMW 5 Series was an elegant car, surmising the evolution of the classic BMW look. However, it was not penetrating the luxury car market. With the changing demographic of China and Asia emerging as major car buyers, BMW needed to do something new, something big. Under Bangle’s tutelage, BMW’s design philosophy has encompassed the modernistic approach: form should always follow function. Such philosophy is not something new to BMW – it has been the brand hallmark since the beginning 90 years ago when the infamous “kidney” grille was introduced at the 1933 Geneva Auto Show.
The essential shape of the 2006 BMW 5 Series, with its long snout and short overhang, is the result of the quest for perfect harmony in design, to achieve an ideal 50:50 weight distribution for better road performance. Even the battery is placed towards the rear to distribute the weight more evenly. Look beneath the surface and you won’t be disappointed. The 2006 BMW 5 Series has an all aluminum front end and suspension, rather than steel. As a result, this spacious 4-door, 5-passenger sedan with an assortment of comfort features weighs just 3428 lbs. (165 lbs. lighter than the previous model). The resulting performance gives better fuel efficiency: 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, while offering a degree of athletic agility not usually associated with larger luxury cars.
The unsullied splendor of the 2006 BMW 5 Series is found inside the car. The easily visible dials and the uncluttered cabin enhance the art of driving. The car also features an improved iDrive control panel which has been upgraded for easier personalization of comfort and convenience features. The wheelbase is longer at 113.7 inches (2.3” increase) and length is up by 2.6 inches. This translates into a larger trunk, and a roomier cabin, especially in the rear where two adults can peacefully sit. The two front seats are equally supportive and can be adjusted in 20 directions. The lumbar enhancement and thigh support on both the front passenger and driver seats will keep you comfortably focused as you enjoy the joy of driving.
Passion fuels success in the 2006 BMW 5 Series. The all-new engine is 40% lighter than last year’s model. Made from a magnesium block with hydro-foamed camshaft, it’s equipped with 215 horsepower in 525i and 255 horsepower in the 530i. The resulting 0-60 times are 7.3 seconds and 6.4 seconds for 525i and 530i, respectively. Additionally, the 550i features a 4.8-liter V8 power plant with 360 horsepower. The 550i can cover 0-60 mph in a scant 5.4 seconds. At the top of the BMW 5 Series lineup is the sensational M5, featuring the refined Formula 1, V10 engine with 500 horsepower. The engine is mated to a 7 speed sequential manual transmission producing a gargantuan 409 pound-feet of torque at 6100 rpm, redlining at 8250 rpm.
Going fast is only half the battle; the car must also protect the inhabitants in case of an accident, and maintain its composure in all sorts of road conditions. As such, there are numerous safety innovations integral to the 2006 BMW 5 Series. For example, the Xenon Adaptive headlights automatically swivel to follow the curves of the road. Data from light sensors determine the car’s direction and projects the light so the driver can see the road ahead with less strain. For enhanced handling, BMW’s xDrive™ distributes varying power between the front and rear axles, ensuring agile, neutral and forgiving handling during spirited driving. Additionally, the Dynamic Stability Control™ provides further tenacity on slippery road surfaces.
Sales and profits at Bayerische Motoren Werke AG have grown as the Bangle cars, including the 3 Series, Z4 and the 7 Series, have come on stream. Rival design chiefs, who were once Chris Bangle’s most vociferous critics, have tempered their language. Renault’s Partick Le Quement, possibly the world’s most respected car designer, says: “There are some really strong designs;” Nissan’s Shiro Nakamura prefers BMW 5 Series clear design language: “It’s challenging and unconventional.” The combination of strong visual sensibility, sublime engine technology, a luxurious cabin, and advanced safety features have contributed to making the 2006 BMW 5 Series the benchmark in the mid-luxury market. Of the six iterations of the new 5 Series, the MSRP ranges from $41,800 for the 525i sedan; $51,100 for the 530xi wagon; and $81,200 for M5. Like the madness of a misunderstood artist, Christopher Bangle has indeed improved on BMW’s bottom line.