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Re: GS400 vs. 540i in snow (archive)

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Posted by Peter G. on January 09, 1999 at 00:44:42:

In Reply to: Re: GS400 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' posted by BMan on January 09, 1999 at 00:10:23:

: I currently own a GS400, and am very disappointed with it. It has to be the worst car in the snow. I can not even drive this car in 1 inch of snow. The traction control is useless. How is the 540 in the snow?? Any, responses will be appreciated.

When I picked up my '99 540iA Sport in Germany last month, it was equipped with California-spec summer performance tires (Dunlop SP Sport 2000's; see below for a picture taken when they were brand new and still furry). They're far from snow tires, but we spent a lot of the trip on snow. In fact, the BMW delivery center didn't even want me to take the car the first day because there was so much snow on the roads in Munich. I took it anyway (though I waited until after lunch and the fortuitous appearance of the sun). I've lived in Denver, so I had some experience with snow, and it all worked out okay.

I thought the 540's traction control worked quite well in snow, even deep parking-lot snow. It seemed to give me about as much control over the car as physics allowed. It worked well in heavy rain, too, and we experienced a lot of that as well.

By the way, I test-drove a GS400 twice before buying the 540. Objectively, the GS400 is a fast car, but subjectively it feels no faster than my '92 Maxima SE. The GS400's response from a green light was disappointing, and its turning behavior was even worse. I really wanted to like it, because I knew it would save me $15,000 or more vs. a fully-equipped 540, but I just didn't feel like it was an upgrade from the Maxima. The '98 540iA non-Sport car I test-drove was substantially better than the Maxima, and the '99 Sport model I ended up with is much better than that.

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