Another consideration is torque. The 525i puts out 185ft-lb of torque;
the 530i puts out 220ft-lb. That a 35ft-lb difference. I know on my 90
E34 535i, 5spd, 105K miles, there was a big difference in torque (over
50ft-lb) over the E34 525i. You could definitely feel the difference
"off-the-line" between the 2 cars.
I would say drive both cars and see for yourself whether you notice the
difference. If not, get the "less expensive alternative"....
I think there are two factors to consider: 1. Transmission - manual or auto,
and 2. the type of driver you are.
Number 2 is probably more important. By type of driver, I mean do you like to
rev the engine to high rpms, or do you want an engine that pulls hard from
under 3k on the tach. I'm routinely castigated here for my advocation of 4K or
higher shift points with my 97 328, for mere casual driving over to the grocery
store - note that by shifting at 4K plus, it doesn't mean you have the throttle
floored - it just means you shift at 4K, usually under rather light throttle.
Now why is this important? Simple, moving the car takes horsepower (I can show
you from F=ma why it is horsepower NOT torque that determines acceleration).
There are two ways to get the horsepower (essentially) Large engine at low
rpm, so that torque x rpm results in the horsepower that you want, or small
engine at high rpm so that, again, torque x rpm results in the horsepower you
want. Thus, there is enough horsepower in the 525 for enjoyable driving - IF
you are willing to go get it - i.e. rev the thing a bit.
Some people don't like to do this - nothing wrong with that, but which type of
person are you? I think this is the biggest factor in your decision.
Number 1: Transmission. With a manual you will have to make the high rpm
shifts yourself - with an auto, it will do it by itself, based upon how hard
you step on the throttle - again, it's a personal preference thing. However, I
would expect that with a car as heavy as the 5 series, with the 2.5 liter
engine and a manual trans, you would really need to like 'my' above driving
style to enjoy the car. Again, the auto trans will shift at high rpm just by
stepping hard on the throttle, and you don't really have to pay any attention
to the shift points if you're not into that sort of thing.
Let us know which one you decide to buy.
While I agree with most of your comments (assuming the OP is in the US):
The 525i is not that heavy - only 150 lbs. more than the 325i and the 2006
525i does not have a 2.5 liter engine - it is a 3 liter with 40hp less than
You are correct. Temporary brain freeze - I knew it was a 3 liter engine - I
just went with BMW calling it a 525.
What 'might' be interesting is the fact that the rated torque spec of 185 lb-ft
for this engine yields a mean effective cylinder pressure of only 153 psi. This
is an extremely low value for a BMW engine (my M52 328 is 183 psi, for example)
- in fact you should not even need to use premium gas with this engine, as there
should be little danger of pinging with such a low pressure.
Makes one wonder - though maybe since it revs to 6250 rpm for max horsepower,
they did actually need to 'tune' the intake so much for the higher rpm that
considerable torque was sacrificed at lower rpm. In my opinion, it would be a
much better engine if tuned for more like 200 plus lb-ft of torque, and max hp
at lower rpm like the M52 - even if the max hp were less. Would give nicer
throttle response when cruising at 3000 rpm and you want to pull over some of
the mountain passes out here where I live.
Even though I like revving an engine, I guess I still like peak power to occur
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