If you are thinking of buying a BMW read this

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The longer I have my 06 5 series BMW the more I regret the purchase. I have owned Lexi, Infiniti, Corvettes, Cadillacs, Volvos, Saabs and I have never regretted a purchase as much as I do this one.
It is fun to drive and admittedly handles better than any other sedan I can think of but the ergonomics, to put it simply, leave too much to be desired for a car in this price class. BMW has some of the best drive train/suspension engineers in the world, maybe the absolute best. Unfortunately BMW has absolute idiots, basically morons, designing the interiors and controls of the vehicle. One really need not go further than the cup holders, but it gets worse. At my height, 5' 11", it is impossible not to constantly bang my left leg against the rock hard faux wood hand rail on the door. This aggravates me more than anything. I feel like I get bitten every time I drive the car. Many necessary functions, including cruise control, are difficult to operate in their left of steering wheel location (it is a right handed world after all). The steering wheel heater button is utterly incaccesible unless you lean over the steering wheel and look for it hidden in the recesses of the left side of the steering wheel. Or is that the steering wheel up and down button? In and out? Setting the air conditioning requires navigating through the BMW version of the worst of Windows as well as using a traditional switch on the dashboard. There is no way to rapidly adjust fan flow without having to go through a complex ordeal that requires you to divert your attention from the road to use the computer screen. Unless you simply want maximum blasting of the air, which is available by a button on the dash. Switching radio stations is a major ordeal and an act of faith: it works blindly or you have to navigate through multiple computer screens using the Teutonic Wheel of Death. If not set on preprogrammed stations, which has an unrealistically limited number of settings, then if you are temporarily in an area where the signal is weak that particular station will not be recognized on the "all stations" settings. Did I mention that the "all stations" settings arranges all receivable signals in a non sequential order? Therefore pushing the up or down button on the steering wheel does not necessarily take you to the next station in order of frequency. The voice command system works about as well as any computer voice transcription system, which is to say not at all. Not even slightly. Not even a hiccup. Its sad when even the service technician shrugs his shoulder and says it is just another non-perfected gimmick. I do like the blue tooth. However if you have a Verizon but not a Cingular treo, the same frigging phone, only some but not all of your preprogrammed numbers will be available. Back to the computer screen and the Teutonic Wheel of Death. Once a destination programmed into navigation has been reached major reprogramming is required to stop getting directions. Also the directions are inaccurate: when the freeway veers left the voice tells you to exit the freeway to the left although there is really no frigging exit involved. It will tell you to exit the freeway to the right, if the freeway veers right, and if there happens to be an exit there you can guess the rest. My wife likes the car, at least.
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Didnt you take a test drive ?
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I own a 2000 E38 which is great to drive and the switches are well thought out and easy to use. However, on a 48-hr test drive in the new 7 series with the i-drive, I found much the same issues; having to navigate through loads of screens to do the simplest tasks. It seems that BMW removed all the switches to make a simple 'cleaner' one-control interface; but while I loved the way the car drives and the comfort and features, it was a relief to get back into my car with its simple interface. Just my opinion...
La Tercia Real
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On 13 Apr 2006 01:31:05 -0700, "La Tercia Real"

In a recent UK TV program, Top Gear, they did a 0-60 test on the new M6, they timed it at a 14 minutes... They included all the time it took to set the engine to maximum power, sort out the suspension and traction control settings using the i-Drive... LOL!
Dodgy.
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waffled on about something:> In a recent UK TV program, Top Gear, they did a 0-60 test on the new

It did look a bit crazy. Not sure why you would need 3 engine power settings: 400BH, 500BH and (I think) 500BH Sport. What's all that about? Do you save a tiny bit of fuel on 400BH mode?
I'm sure some M6 user will enlighten us.
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waffled on about something:

Well, I don't have the M6, but do have an '06 M5 that has the same engine, transmission and overall setup as the M6. Here's my impressions so far:
At first, the i-Drive system drove me crazy, but in time it became second nature. I am not sure it's really necessary for it to control and access everything, but some unique features of the M5 and M6 are a natural for i-Drive. You don't have to use it, BTW to control basic functions of the car.
Why two horsepower settings? Why three suspension settings? Why six throttle response settings and six shift speed settings? Again, at first it seems ridiculous .... I think there's a matrix of over 200 different combinations of programmable setups for the car.
But, after a while getting used to it, I began to understand the philosophy of the design. BMWs are supposed to be fun to drive. The wide range of performance programs in the M5 make it even more so. You basically have several different cars, with different performance characteristics all in one vehicle. In the 400 hp, comfort suspension mode and level S2 selected, the car performs and handles like a fast family sedan. The SMG transmission can even shift itself like an automatic. But, using the i-Drive, you can pre-program a whole set of selectable performance options that can be instantly engaged by simply pushing the "M" button on the steering wheel. In an instant, the sedate, 5 passenger family sedan changes into another vehicle altogether, know to us that own them as the "Beast". Depending on what you programmed, the engine suddenly develops 100 more horsepower, the suspension changes to that of a race car and the throttle response becomes instant. Shifts in the manual shift mode are lightening fast, especially up around 7000 rpm. (redline for the engine is 8,250 RPM). You can change the Dynamic Stability Control from standard (limits wheel spin and engine throttle if you start to lose traction) to an intermediate mode called "MSC" (or something like that) that allows a bit of drift, wheel spin and higher lateral G forces without backing off the engine or applying braking to stop wheel spin, but will save your ass if things get out of control.
Then, you can select S6 mode --- the highest level of raw performance. I've only tried it once, and will not likely do it again unless I am on an empty track and with a bit more experience. In this mode, the M5 is very fast, the shifts are almost violent and it is easy to get into a powered drift, even in 3rd or 4th gear. I tried a full bore acceleration once and was at 130 mph as I shifted from 4th to 5th gear then backed off ... with two more gears to go.
So, that's how I've adapted to the M5. It took some time. Usually I adapt to a new car (as do most people, I suspect) within a day or two of driving. It took me about 3 weeks just to feel comfortable with the 7 speed SMG transmission. Now, after four months of ownership, I still am still enjoying trying all the different driving personalities of this car. They may be ugly, but man, they are a blast to drive!
RCE
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Dodgy wrote:

That is funny...
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Yes. I saw that. It was funny, but I wonder if a dollop of Clarkson exaggeration was applied... After all, you may not have to go through all the settings the next time.
DAS
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Giving an alternative viewpoint I own a Roadster S (which has the Z4 interior) and really, really like the whole package. Perhaps it is just a 5 series 'thing'?

I'm 6" 1" and find the cabin very comfortable to get into and out of - I am surprised that the 5 is so awkward.

I'm right handed and find that controls for cruise on the left are more sensible as I prefer to keep my right hand on the wheel. But that's just a personal thing.

That sounds posh. Us poor Roadster S users can't have heated steering wheels. Would be useful in a softtop too.

I can't comment on that as the Z4 doesn't have iDrive. Instead we just have an old-fashioned dial as well as the cold blast button.

I can imagine that to be very annoying - again we don't have iDrive just a normal radio system. Even with the pro sat nav computer stuff it works just as well as a 'normal' car radio.

That surprises me. Voice activation in the Roadster is excellent - even though it is a soft-top and you would expect the extra engine noise to interfere. I find it necessary when dialing numbers as otherwise you have to look at the sat nav screen and dial the radio to select numbers - very dangerous.

I agree the Blue Tooth integration is superb.

Just two clicks required on the pro sat nav without iDrive. Guess iDrive doesn't have much going for it?

Now this is something I can sympathise with. It does it here in the UK too - even on b roads. You come up to a sharp left turn and it tells you it's a junction. Doesn't do it all the time but it is annoying when it does.

So does mine. Not necessarily a good thing when she won't give you it back. ;)
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I remember the good old days, when BMWs were drivers cars and didn't have most of the facilities you moan about. Cars are for driving, not gadgets. BMW seems to have forgotten that.
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It is concerning that manufacturers think we want more buttons to press when at the end of the day we just want to be able to drive - with as few buttons as possible! What else do we buy a car for?
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waffled on about something:

Actually you've got that round the wrong way.
We want lots of sensible buttons, in sensible places that do just one thing.
Not a twisty pressy i-Drive button that does 27 things and requires you to take your eyes of the road to check that you're turning the radio up and not disengaging traction control and engaging the nitrous injection!
Dodgy.
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:)
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With all due respect, it just ain't so. You can control most everything normally, without using the i-Drive, including turning up the radio with an old fashioned, dash mounted knob.
RCE
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In that case, order voice control, it is easy to use and accurate (only occasionally misunderstanding commands). Regretably it doen't understand irony, sarcasm or profanity - but other than that its excellent!
Roger
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waffled on about something:

Other than the profanity it sounds just like an American :o)
*ducks*
Dodgy
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Careful... that's the point of iDrive, isn't it?
;-) DAS
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So sell it and go buy another brand
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Unfortunately some other manufacturers have started going down the iDrive route, incl. Mercedes.
DAS
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

Well, God forbid that you be seen as technically inferior to your competitor, even if if the technology is STUPID. Just imagine the market death if you didn't have an LCD screen in your dash!
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