ALL-ROUND BRIL­LIANCE: TECH-LADEN NEW BMW 5 SE­RIES TEST DRIVE

BMW has just un­veiled its new sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion 5 Se­ries ex­ec­u­tive sa­loon. With four decades of his­tory hang­ing around its shoul­ders, it has much to live up to. Paul Con­nolly checks it out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY PAUL CON­NOLLY

WHAT’S NEW? All and noth­ing, in some re­spects. BMW has over­hauled its sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion 5 Se­ries, the car that many say de­fines the mid­dle to up­per ech­e­lons of the busi­ness mar­ket with sales of al­most 8 mil­lion to date.

It’s got a sharp new look, lost weight and gained a sack full of tech­nol­ogy and driver as­sists.

It is, in fact, a huge step for­ward to­wards the nir­vana of car com­pa­nies th­ese days: au­ton­o­mous driv­ing.

What hasn’t changed is the sim­ple fact that it’s the best-in-class ex­ec­u­tive sa­loon. Whether that changes in the near fu­ture, well, we’ll have to see what ri­vals like Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar do next. But don’t hold your breath.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE There’s no deny­ing the new 5 Se­ries is a hand­some thing, grace­fully evolved from its pre­de­ces­sor. From the front, twin cir­cu­lar head­lights con­nect to the fa­mil­iar BMW kid­ney grille.

From the side, the pas­sen­ger cell is set back when viewed in re­la­tion to the wheel­base, and there’s a flow­ing roofline to the rear end. The front over­hang is short­ened.

The new model is ever so slightly larger than the sixth-gen­er­a­tion model: 36mm longer (at 4,935mm), six mil­lime­tres wider (1,868mm) and two mm taller (1,466mm). The wheel­base mea­sures 2,975mm, an in­crease of 7mm.

The ex­haust tailpipes, now ar­ranged sym­met­ri­cally on both sides on all mod­els, are cir­cu­lar or trape­zoidal de­pend­ing on the engine and trim level.

My re­view car, a 520d xdrive M Sport sa­loon pro­vided by the folks at Pren­tice BMW in Por­ta­d­own, was a highly-specced (although still cam­ou­flaged) model. In­cluded in the op­tions list were the M Sport Plus pack­age, Com­fort pack­age, En­hanced Blue­tooth with wire­less charg­ing, and BMW ges­ture con­trol.

The car was ex­cep­tional, the drive

su­perb and the ex­tras were a great ad­di­tion apart from ges­ture con­trol, which I found rather dis­ap­point­ing. Pre­sum­ably I would get used to it.

PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY AND SPACE As you’d ex­pect for such a pre­mium car, the new 5 Se­ries has been in­fused with BMW’S lat­est tech­nol­ogy. There is an im­press ar­ray of driver as­sis­tance tech­nolo­gies de­signed at re­duc­ing hu­man work­load.

Th­ese in­clude op­tional Re­mote Con­trol Park­ing as first de­ployed in the 7 Se­ries. This uses a spe­cial hand­set and soft­ware to al­low own­ers to ma­noeu­vre in and out of for­ward-park­ing spa­ces with­out any­one at the wheel; bril­liant for those with a tight park­ing space or nar­row garage.

There are also op­tional Park­ing As­sis­tant pack­ages for au­to­mated park­ing in par­al­lel and an­gled park­ing spa­ces. Added to Sur- round View and Re­mote 3D view means that, in the­ory, it should be next to im­pos­si­ble to prang the thing when park­ing.

Other tech­nolo­gies like Lane Change As­sis­tant are de­signed to pri­or­i­ties safety out on the roads and as I men­tioned, are an­other mile­stone on the road to driver­less driv­ing.

There’s more head­room, legroom and knee-room on of­fer, and boot ca­pac­ity is now 530-litres. The boot sill has been low­ered com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor, and the aper­ture widened – both wel­come ad­di­tions over its pre­de­ces­sor.

IN­SIDE THE CABIN Build qual­ity is ex­quis­ite, with leather and soft touch ma­te­ri­als ev­ery­where and a lovely blend of sport and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Ex­tra at­ten­tion has been paid to re­duc­ing in­te­rior noise lev­els; and you’ll par­tic­u­larly no­tice this at 70mph on the mo­tor­way, which feels like 55mph and can be quite de­ceiv­ing.

As stan­dard on the BMW 5 Se­ries, the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of the Pro­fes­sional Nav­i­ga­tion system boasts a fast start-up, faster route cal­cu­la­tion and more re­al­is­tic 3D graph­ics in cities.

Nav­i­ga­tion, phone con­nec­tively, en­ter­tain­ment, ve­hi­cle in­for­ma­tion and much more is dis­played on a high-res 10.25-inch screen us­ing BMW’S bril­liant idrive con­troller.

A neat touch for ex­ec­u­tives is that BMW is now the first car­maker to of­fer Mi­crosoft Of­fice 365 users a se­cure server con­nec­tion for ex­chang­ing and edit­ing emails, cal­en­dar en­tries and con­tact de­tails thanks to the car’s builtin Mi­crosoft Ex­change func­tion.

UN­DER THE BON­NET The new gen­er­a­tion of Eu6-com­pli­ant Twinpower Turbo en­gines pro­vide per­for­mance gains and ad­vances in re­duc­ing fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions.

The petrol units em­ploy TwinScroll tur­bocharg­ing, High Pre­ci­sion In­jec­tion, DOU­BLE-VANOS vari­able camshaft con­trol and Val­vetronic fully vari­able valve tim­ing.

The diesels have a tur­bocharger with vari­able tur­bine

“IT’S (BMW 5 SE­RIES) GOT A SHARP NEW LOOK, LOST WEIGHT AND GAINED A SACK FULL OF TECH­NOL­OGY AND DRIVER AS­SISTS. IT IS, IN FACT, A HUGE STEP FOR­WARD TO­WARDS THE NIR­VANA OF CAR COM­PA­NIES TH­ESE DAYS: AU­TON­O­MOUS DRIV­ING.”

ge­om­e­try and lat­est-gen­er­a­tion com­mon-rail di­rect in­jec­tion.

The vol­ume en­gines avail­able at launch can be spec­i­fied with BMW’S xdrive in­tel­li­gent all­wheel drive system (20d, 30d, 40i).

BE­HIND THE WHEEL The car han­dles in­cred­i­bly well; sporty yet el­e­gant and re­fined. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is seam­less, and cor­ner­ing su­perb. The car feels in­cred­i­bly well planted in the road, aided by the xdrive four-wheel system which is mak­ing its first ap­pear­ance in the 5 Se­ries.

There’s a choice of Com­fort, Sport and eco modes, with each gen­uinely re­flect­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate per­son­al­ity by ad­just­ing the sus­pen­sion and throt­tle ap­pro­pri­ately.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? Busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives, BMW fans, folks from well-heeled fam­i­lies or those with highly-specced sa­loons to trade in will love it. My 520d M Sport auto trans­mis­sion with pad­dles is sim­ply the finest BMW I’ve had the plea­sure of driv­ing. Prices for the5 Se­ries range start from £36,025.

BMW 5 Se­ries is avail­able to or­der now from Pren­tice Por­ta­d­own (www.pren­ticebmw.co.uk) and other BMW deal­ers.

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