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October 2007 Roundel article on 550i sport

Old 11-11-2007, 06:20 PM
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I happened to notice an article today in the October Roundel (November's just came today but for some reason I picked up last month's issue) where they do a quick review of the 550i with the sport package called Sporting Goods.

Although the author, David Haueter, seemed to like the car and called it "almost an M5", it's clear that he was a bit uninformed about some of the finer details of the car. The car he tested was pretty loaded but was built before the SAT was available so it had the steptronic automatic. Mr. Haueter mentions that it "didn't have the paddle shifters, since it was produced before June, but I would just as soon do without them, as they are more a fashion statement than an effective driving tool." He went on to say that "If BMW wanted to do it right, they would use the paddle arrangement from the M models in all the cars, with more upright paddles and one each dedicated for upshifts and downshifts." So what's he saying, that if they're not "done right" then they're a fashion statement? Give me a break! As many of you know, I prefer the "wrong way" of doing the paddles. I've said a million times before, it makes way more sense to do it that way. No need to even think about what paddle you're touching and you can up or downshift with the left hand while using iDrive, etc. with the right. (It also makes perfect sense -- the paddle is moved in the same direction as the shift lever -- forward for downshifts and rearward for upshifts.) Paddles aside, did he not read the press kit to understand that the SAT offers more than just paddles or did he just go to some random BMW dealership and ask some random salesperson about the "paddle shift transmission?"

He goes on to slam Active Steering (which is one of those love it or hate it type of things) and PDC since he feels it should only turn on when he wants it to.

The clincher for me that this guy didn't do his homework was when he said that the active cruise and lane deviation warning systems use a "camera mounted inside the front air dam." He then proceeds to say that "camera lenses get dirty so neither technology is failsafe." I know I'm preaching to the choir here but come on, ACC is camera-based? Sure, I could understand if he wasn't aware that there were two radar systems used (one long-range and one short-range), but I think pretty much everyone else knows that the system runs on radar, not a camera. And, if the guy wasn't burying himself enough, to say that the lane deviation warning camera is in the air dam and susceptible to dirt is just plain ignorant. As most of you folks probably know, the lane deviation warning system camera is mounted between the rear-view mirror and the windshield (near the rain sensor) in a place where it can not only get a better view of the lane itself, but also be constantly cleaned by the windshield wiper. I have to believe that somewhere, there are BMW engineers who read that article and were personally insulted!

In his ACC test, he doesn't mention that the following distance is adjustable (in fact, he implies that it's fixed at one car length for every ten miles per hour) and he doesn't even mention the most useful ACC feature -- stop and go!

His evaluation of Night Vision is typical for someone who hasn't used it for any length of time. I understand that most people don't immediately understand that you need to learn to use the display just like a mirror or like your speedometer. You just glance at it from time to time as part of the driving process. It takes time but you start to condition yourself to know not only when to glance at it but also what to look for when you do. (I've recently found that night vision is becoming very useful to me. At this point, I'm starting to think it's a must-have option -- in my limited time with it, I've already been able to see some deer and some pedestrians in advance of my headlights and in both cases, the advanced warning made a huge difference and allowed me to slow down early and not slam on the brakes at the last moment. I'm also now finding that I miss having it when I drive other cars! Also, now that we've turned the clocks back to standard time, I'm even more likely to benefit from using it.)

Oh well, I just had to vent a bit -- I expect this sort of irresponsible journalism from the mainstream car magazines but not from the Roundel! Satch Carlson ought to require these guys to follow the lead of Jonathan Spira and make them do some research with the real BMW experts -- us!
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:48 AM
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I would recommend you e-mail this as a letter to the editor as is (ja, you can leave my name it).

I agree with your points btw.
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:13 PM
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I read this article on the plane on the way to Munich. I tended to discount his opinions due to the factual errors.

It certainly didn't add to the excitement of my impending delivery.
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:59 PM
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i agree, bad review and writer. i don't have that issue with me anymore, but iirc he didn't do his homework on the technology and options. it seemed a bit like he just wasn't all that interested in the car to begin with.
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