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New technologies in 2004 5-series move BMW further ahead of the pack

They REALLY make a diference

BMW bristles with proactive technology

New 5 Series' features go beyond those of other cars

Highlights from the National Post article:

BMW's new 2004 5 Series has a list of active features that goes beyond anything offered on any other car.

The notion of turning the headlights relative to steering input makes a lot of sense, as it illuminates the road where the driver is, or should be, looking.

The benefit is found in the numbers. Conventional fixed halogen or xenon (high-intensity discharge) headlights illuminate the curve ahead for 53 and 65 metres respectively. Swivelling the new 5 Series' xenon headlights extends the useful sight line to 89 m.

Active cruise control (ACC in BMW's letter-laden lingo) is making inroads into most luxury cars. However, BMW's take betters most as it uses radar rather than laser to maintain a preset distance between the 5 Series and the car ahead.

While convenience and a reduction in driver fatigue are among its attributes, ACC betters the laser-based systems as it works in inclement weather.

Active Front Steering (AFS) is the first production foray into the complex world of steer-by-wire. The optional system on the 5 Series combines steering wheel input with that of an electric motor to reduce the driver's workload at slow speeds, while improving the feel at higher speeds. It delivers the best of both worlds in a single package.

Some manufacturers accomplish similar results by using a variable-ratio steering rack. While it helps the on-centre feel and the speed with which the wheels turn in, this is where its ability to help the driver stops. Not so with AFS.

While some, myself included, view a good portion of the stuff coming down the pipe as technology for the sake of a catchy line in a shiny brochure, the active items included in the 2004 5 Series are anything but.

Click here to read the full article
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