January 10, 2010

BMW 535 Sport Wagon: Axis of Practical Update.

Some of you may remember I had acquired a BMW 535 Sport Wagon as the family car last year. It's been so far the best car I have owned. I won't bore you with a review of a car that is now essentially out of production but suffice it to say that it is fulfilling it's mission remarkably well. Case in point, the family ski trip after Christmas...

I don't understand why people have it in for wagons these days and would rather own a crossover type vehicle. Perhaps towing but it certainly cannot be for lack of usable space because the amount of stuff I was able to pack in the 5 wagon literally stunned me: we were 3 adults and two kids with booster seats, Skis, boots, three large suitcases (soft but with wheels), one carry on type suitcase. one 12x12x18 rigid plastic box, a case of wine, a computer bag, assorted bags of food and toys, coats and more assorted crap. Picture two hotel type carts full...yup they all fit. Couldn't see a thing behind me but it all fit, I just wish I had taken a picture.

Key of course was the split opening rear hatch, with my old Audi S6 I would invariably fit stuff in and then the hatch would not close, with the window hatch you can put the big stuff in and then stuff it from the smaller opening, brilliant.

You might imagine the car all loaded like that felt weird to drive? Not at all, the self leveling suspension kept everything straight and normal, verynice! Milage over the trip, with "healthy" highway speeds, was well over 20 mpg.

The trip was to Lake Placid NY, a place normally known for cold temperatures during one of the coldest spells in years. Temperatures the first day hovered around the -5F (-20 C). Car started right up and for the first time I really appreciated the heated steering wheel!.

We also had heavy snowfall and here I have to set the record straight... You may have seen the last episode of Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson trashes the X6 ....

I'm not especially a fan of the x6 but, aside from the obvious that 20" wheels and 315/30 summer tires are going to be pretty bad in snow, I can tell you I had no issues whatsoever going up a snowy hills steeper than the one in the Top Gear clip with the "performance" summer runflats that come on on the 535. Certainly not the tire of choice if I had to drive in snow daily, but I was not anywhere close to being stranded, ever. Don't pay too much attention to old JC there, Xdrive works much better than that.

If you are car shopping for something practical and nice to drive, you might want to check out any 2010 sport wagons left, I'm sure you there must be phenomenal deals. Maybe give a call to our tracktard friend Chris Chang at BMW of Greenwich, you won't find a better deal if you say you are an AOO fan!

end of post


  1. AC - is Touring one of something like 10 U.S.-spec 5er wagons with a manual transmissions or is it steptronic?

  2. Nice!
    I actually liked Clarkson's review of the X6. Its a BIG endorsement for Touring Wagons.
    AC, you are optimistic about the Summer tires in the snow. You were probably lucky you got the right type of snow to allow some grip with that tread/compound. Our M Sport Pack X5 just slides off the driveway while being parked!!!
    Winter Tires coming on this week, or otherwise I would hate myself if something happened to the the wife and Kids...

  3. Hang on though, your driveway is at a 45 degree angle! :)

  4. Seriously, AWD might help you crawl smoothly up roads you can't on a RWD with Summer Tires, but what about stopping?
    Perf Summer Tires are useless in real snow...

  5. no argument there, but it's not as bad as JC made it look.

  6. Having just driven an E90 M3 back to NY from Detroit thru 4 inces of snow / slush / ice on fresh PS2's I can attest to the NEED for snow tires. Of course I knew this before, but when a friend hands you a mission to get his new (to him, 2500 miles on the odo when I left MI) prize car home in 1 piece you have to rise to the challenge, especially when the alternative is to wait out the weather in suburban Detriot Holiday Inn Express. To bolster the case that BMW making some fines road cars, I did 650 miles in 10 hours, that includes a few stops for gas / bladder relief. Avg MPG when I hit my driveway was 20.2, not bad for a 4 liter making 420 hp. Fukes

  7. need snow chains for the X6. lol.

  8. I once drove the caged up, mufflerless Boxster home from Summit Point in a blinding snow storm in November on Route 80 on worn NT-01s. That was the most excruciating almost 10 hours of my life.

    Wearing the wrong shoes sucks.


nRelate Posts Only