AT A GLANCE

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Pres­tige - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER

IT will take a ge­nius to get the best from the new BMW 5 Se­ries sedan.

The car is so loaded with tech­nol­ogy that it can do many of the mun­dane steer­ing­brakes-ac­cel­er­a­tor chores of driv­ing, pro­vide some of the best pre-emp­tive safety pro­tec­tion on the road and re­move the drudgery of touch­ing 20th­cen­tury but­tons in the cabin. Oh, and even park it­self.

So the good news for buy­ers of the sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion 5 Se­ries is that BMW has a crack team of Ge­nius tech­ni­cians on standby at its Aus­tralian deal­er­ships.

In case we’ve for­got­ten, the 5 Se­ries also drives sweetly for peo­ple who like some old-school mo­tor­ing and not just a lux­ury bus to get them from A to B.

“Some peo­ple will love all the tech­nol­ogy stuff and oth­ers won’t want all of it,” says BMW Aus­tralia head of prod­uct and mar­ket plan­ning Shawn Tice­hurst.

“So we will have a team of Ge­nius tech­ni­cians. There is a lot of clever stuff in the car and they can show peo­ple how to get the best from it.”

He says all hi-tech items serve a pur­pose, even if own­ers will switch some — or a lot — off. “Do we have tech­nol­ogy for BMW 5 SE­RIES PRICE $93,900- $136,900 WAR­RANTY 3 years/100,000km CAPPED SER­VIC­ING From $1600 over 5 years SER­VICE IN­TER­VAL Con­di­tion based SAFETY Not yet tested EN­GINES 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 185kW/350Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 140kW/400Nm; 3.0-litre 6-cyl, 250kW/450Nm; 3.0-litre 6-cyl turbo diesel, 195kW/620Nm TRANS­MIS­SION 8-speed auto; RWD THIRST 4.3L/100km DI­MEN­SIONS 4936mm (L), 1868mm (W), 1479mm (H), 2975mm (WB) WEIGHT 1540-1640kg SPARE Space-saver 0-100KM/H From 5.1 secs tech­nol­ogy’s sake? Well, you can turn it all off and just en­joy the drive,” he says.

The new 5 sits, as ever, smack in the mid­dle of the BMW fam­ily, but there is a big­ger body with more rear seat space and up­dated en­gines in the line-up: 530i and 540i petrol mod­els and 520d and 530d turbo diesels.

Styling is pre­dictably BMW and the prices are higher — by as much as $20,000 on the 540i.

The in­crease goes against the pat­tern of re­cent years but BMW Aus­tralia says the new 5 Se­ries mod­els are fit­ted with stan­dard equip­ment for which buy­ers pre­vi­ously paid ex­tra.

The lat­est starts from $93,900 for the petrol 530i and the flag­ship 540i opens at $136,900.

There is so much safety as­sis­tance equip­ment, in­clud­ing over­due speed-sign recog­ni­tion that’s taken five years to tweak for Aus­tralia, that it should eas­ily reach a fives­tar AN­CAP score.

Its pri­mary ri­val is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which has a lower start­ing price of $89,900 and gen­er­ally cov­ers the same strata, al­though there are among oth­ers the Audi A6 from only $80,355 and the Jaguar XF from $82,754. ON THE ROAD As we drive out of Ade­laide air­port, head­ing into the twisty hill roads that ring the city, I’m strug­gling to come to grips with the tech­nol­ogy. The 5 it­self feels fa­mil­iar, in the way it looks and the way it re­sponds to the steer­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tor, but I’m won­der­ing about all the “stuff ” packed into the car.

It won’t be for nearly a day — when Tice­hurst comes aboard as co-pi­lot and shows me how to set my favourite but­tons, tweak the sus­pen­sion set­tings on the go, get the best from the hands­free ges­ture con­trol and even use the ex­cel­lent speed lim­iter — that I start to feel at ease.

For now, I’m driv­ing the 530i and I like it. The tur­bocharged 2.0-litre petrol en­gine has good torque of 350Nm from low in the rev range.

Matched to an eight-speed auto with pad­dle-shifters, it’s en­joy­able to urge through the turns. The Dy­namic Dam­per Con­trol keeps the wheels well planted with good roll con­trol.

Into the 530d, and I’m sur­prised that I can barely de­tect the diesel en­gine in the nose. It’s a bit louder out­side but the torque is great and the only sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive is the ride — big wheels and low-pro­file tyres make it over-firm and gen­er­ate way too much road noise.

My third go is in the ba­sic 520i diesel, which — even close to $100,000 — feels like the starter car in the fam­ily. The ride is chop­pier, it seems nois­ier, and there is not as much tech on show in­side al­though it still has the lat­est im­pres­sive head-up in­stru­ment dis­play.

Then it’s the flag­ship 540i, which feels even chunkier and more re­spon­sive than the 530i, helped by the six-cylin­der turbo (250kW/450Nm) to cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.1 sec­onds. It’s sharply fo­cused and the driver’s car in the line-up, for peo­ple who have the need and the cash. VER­DICT I’m still over­whelmed with facts and fig­ures as we re­turn to Ade­laide but it’s clear that the new 5 is a con­densed 7 Se­ries with the driv­ing en­joy­ment that has been the brand’s sig­na­ture for decades.

My per­sonal pick is the 530i and I’m won­der­ing how it will line up against an E-Class, which looks and feels more lux­u­ri­ous in the cabin but is miss­ing the turn-and-go re­sponse and en­joy­ment of the new BMW.

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