Fashion meets performance

2010-02-19 14:38

THE tailored suit – a design art form requiring precision of aged

hands to turn the ultimate cut into the right fit.

More than a rash of measurements, tailoring must also take into

account the fabric, the textures, the draping of the material and the final

touches that mark out a quality suit from a cheap and nasty knock-off.

The tailor-made suit was also the image that Jacek Frohlich had in

mind when penning the lines of the all-new BMW 5-Series sedan.

And, like the slow matured process of cutting good cloth into a

great suit, BMW’s big 5 has been a work in progress, its design and engineering

squad moulding and tweaking it into the final presentation – a luxury sedan with

a lively attitude and ­performance to match.

BMW 5-Series was revealed to the South African media in the wet and

clammy Lisbon, capital of ­Portugal, recently. An extended driving through

highways and coastal countryside on winding, narrow roads offered just the right

platform for the 5 to show off its nimble, athletic nature.

Aided by the ­inclusion of active steering, less input was needed

to steer and underneath you the rear wheels work against the steering angle of

the front wheels. End result is a car that is almost intuitive, with stable

handling characteristics and front and rear wheels that can steer in the same

direction to scrub off any hint of slide or loss of control.

It’s an engineering feat made possible also through the double wish

bone suspension set-up in the front and integrated V-shaped rear axle.

Built on the chassis platform of the larger sibling 7-Series, the

new 5-Series has steered away from any hint of controversy that the previous

incarnation attracted. In Sardinia, Italy, some years ago, former BMW chief

designer Chris Bangle showed off the then-new 5-Series as a car of innovation

and character.

In its latest guise, however, BMW has gone for a less offensive

look, perhaps prompted in part by extensive “character workshops” to identify

the key personality traits they wanted in the new car.

It was at these workshops that words like “assured elegance” and

“assertive modernity or self-evident sportiness” emerged as the car’s spiritual


The car has a more purposeful and planted look. Its grille has

dropped even lower and the expansive ­bonnet gets a wonderful concoction of

surface lines to create detail and add to that meaty design up front.

Even from the side, it means business with the short overhangs and

subtle but exquisite detailing like the integrated door handles into the upper

profile line.

There’s a combo of coupe-meets-sedan, sport-meets-luxury and all

equal performance par excellence.

A spin in the straight six petrol engine 535i aptly captured the

dynamic sensation that is the new BMW 535i, a derivative that will sell here in

South Africa for about R646?000 when it launches later this year.

The acoustics from this car offer a hint of the power band and

superb torque or pulling power and the bum-in-seat experience is sublime.

Plant the pedal to the floor and its hammer time. Play with the

gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel and the car and driver feel

connected, moving at high speed.

Like a tailor-made suit, BMW’s new 5-Series is high fashion with a

gritty, performance edge.

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