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
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.