NEW BMW 5-SERIES
ANA alluring blend of luxury, performance and refinement - this is the new 5-Series.
I guess that in a world of metric measurements it is not that kosher to describe the new generation 5Series BMW as a “mile muncher” but that alliterative description does fit the bill.
If you’re familiar with previous BMW model nomenclatures (such as E28 or E39, for example), you might be rather puzzled as to why this newlywrought model carries the new G30 moniker... but that is not nearly as relevant as what lies in store for motorists looking to get their hands on a thoroughly convincing luxury sedan endowed with typically BMW sporting genes.
The G30 clearly spent some time in the gym during its gestation as it’s shed up to100kg compared with its predecessor. You can thank the use of more aluminium and stronger steel for this just as you can thank the BMW styling studio for making the newcomer look a fair bit sleeker than its mildly portly predecessor.
Sadly though, the world is moving away from sedans, and that even includes premium iterations such as this, so the marketing people will have their work cut out to convince potential buyers that the new “Five” really is the way to go.
On launch, four models were listed, these being the 1,995cc 520d, the 1,998cc 530i, the 2,993cc 530d and the range-topping 2,998cc 540i.
The first two models listed are each propelled by four cylinders which mean that lovely BMW six-cylinder thrum is a thing of the past thanks in part to the clean air merchants.
But for traditionalists, 530d and 540i retain the famed BMW six-cylinder configuration albeit that their turbocharging stifles the glorious exhaust note we all drooled over in the past!
Our first on-road acquaintance was with the 200kw twin-scroll turbocharged 530i, which only betrayed its four cylinder layout at very high revs..
Power delivery is linear which tells you that turbo lag is not an issue and for the most part, there is more than adequate muscle on hand to deal with all terrains... including steep mountain passes. Next up was the more sporty 540i (250kw) which put its 50% greater displacement to good use with real surging acceleration and a delicious yet restrained thrum from under the bonnet. The penalty is extracted at the pumps but our average figure of 12.2L/100km isn’t too bad.
Without a doubt though, the star of the G30 show is the 195kw 530d. The likely demise of the turbodiesel engine within a decade is rather hard to stomach when a power plant like this one delivers such a convincing performance while consuming fuel at just 7.7L/100km even with rather liberal use of the throttle.
Here’s a compression-ignition motor that masks any knocking uncannily successfully at low revs while also delivering a pleasant if subdued hum at higher revolutions. And no-one can sneeze at a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds.
All models feature the familiar and smooth-acting ZF eight-speed auto which sees service in the 5-Series’ competitive makes too, albeit that each manufacturer tweaks software to suit.
Refinement too is top class. Wind noise is beautifully masked and mechanical commotion for the most part is non-existent. On some older, coarse tar surfaces, road roar can make itself heard but given the size of most wheel/tyre combinations, this is hardly surprising.
Two issues though did surprise us to some extent. The variable-ratio steering for example, even with Integral Active Steering (rear-wheel steer) on board, feels a little woolly around the centre position and for me, a little too light at all times.
Many drivers will probably like the easy feel but for a sporty BMW, it feels just a tad disconnected. In the same vein, I have little doubt that the majority of drivers will like the slightly soft suspension set-up which enhances the long-distance comfort with no loss of control.
Let’s just say that the new 5-Series has moved more in the direction of the 7 Series in terms of dynamic feel which could just account for the “Business Athlete” tag bestowed on it by its makers. Open the door of any model and you will be greeted by a classy interior finished to very high standards and equipped with all the latest gizmos, the extent of which is dependent on how far you wish to dip into the nearendless options list.
Its cabin material selection (with the small exception of the mostly-hidden steering column shroud that looks and feels plasticy) is impeccable and the car’s seat comfort / adjustability, including any rear passenger space, is nigh on perfect.
The new dashboard design however, lacks the modernity and drama of that in the E-class while the overall execution doesn’t match the subtle yet classy simplicity delivered by an Audi but the cabin still feels really good and sports an amazing array of modern niceties.
The configurable virtual instrument display is very clear and informative while the 5-Series’ updated central infotainment screen will keep you entertained for an eternity.
When it comes to tech, this Beemer takes second place to no-one. For example, the list also includes a night camera, on-board wi-fi, a concierge service (which successfully passed our test), as well as such niceties as massaging seats with configurable side bolsters.
Further, and I’ve only hinted at how many options are available in terms of the car’s dynamic configuration, the number of comfort and aesthetic combinations such as wheel / tyre and colour / interior demands that you visit a BMW website such as you’ll find at www.bmw.co.za
The new 5-Series is a hoot to drive and to be driven in. It has morphed into something of a compact 7-Series through offering a raft of luxuries and a relaxed drive underwritten by peachy refinement levels. Under the skin, there’s a sporting BMW waiting to be unleashed when the mood takes.
So, the latest G30 iteration may not be the plushest of the luxury middle weight sedans, nor is it the outright sportiest, but this new BMW blends the two attributes better than any of its rivals so it retains its crown as the best all-rounder, full stop.
“The new 5 Series is a hoot to drive and to be driven in.”