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BMW 535i

Using the same turbocharged six-cylinder engine found in the smaller 3 Series, the BMW 535i saves on fuel but still offers solid performance and drivability. But if you want the best that BMW has to offer in this segment you should wait for the forthcoming 2011 M5. Now that images of the 2011 5 Series have surfaced and BMW’s Motorsport division currently works with a turbocharged V-8 engine, the almighty V-10 could be shelved soon. So for those with an affinity for V-10 power trains and penchant for performance, this is the last call. Until then, here’s a neat trick: Under normal operation, the Formula One–inspired V-10 engine puts out 400 horsepower; push the “M” button on the steering wheel, however, and output increases to 500 hp. To further differentiate the M5 from the lower rungs on the current 5 Series ladder, BMW also gave it a deeper front fascia, unique 19-inch wheels, and four tailpipes. Moreover, electronic damping control offers sport and comfort modes, and bigger brakes counteract the added power. The interior is distinguished with blue-and-red M badges on the doorsills, gauges, and seats. A 6-speed manual transmission is the purist’s alternative to the car’s balky sequential-manual gearbox, which tends to shift like a 15-year-old student driver at low, around-town speeds. The next M5 will undoubtedly be blessed with BMW’s ultrasmooth Dual-Clutch Transmission.

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