AT A GLANCE
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.