NEW BMW 5-SE­RIES

ANA al­lur­ing blend of lux­ury, per­for­mance and re­fine­ment - this is the new 5-Se­ries.

Nam Wheels - - Front Page - Text Richard Wi­ley Images Var­i­ous sources

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.”

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