FEW things impress my pal – but BMW’s parking assistance knocked him sideways. As you attempt to manoeuvre the 530d M Sport a colour display on the dashboard gives an overhead view of the car in relation to the space you are trying to fit into. This, combined with parking sensors and a camera, means that slotting this big beast into a tight spot is simplicity itself.
Despite being a veteran of top German executive models, my friend was blown away by the technology and thought that had gone into the system which is part of Parking Assistant Plus – an optional extra costing £1,095. The car can also be automatically slotted into a space while you stand outside.
It is this commitment to hi-tech solutions as well as an attention to detail and excellent driving dynamics that makes the latest incarnation of the mid-sized 5 Series so good.
The seventh generation of a model that has been around since 1972 could have become stuck in the mud, but BMW ensures this is not the case and the model I drove was a beauty.
Based on the same platform as the bigger 7 Series limo, the new 5 Series is a step up space-wise from its predecessor – but thanks to the use of lightweight materials actually weighs about 100kg less.
This, combined with well-weighted steering, the xDrive all-wheel drive system plus excellent driving dynamics, gives the racy M Sport the agility and balance of a ballerina as well as a surprisingly smooth ride for something sitting on 19-inch alloy wheels.
Three settings – Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro – alter the car’s responses accordingly as well as the large TFT display that replaces the traditional analogue dials on the wraparound dashboard.
Evolution rather than revolution is BMW’s ethos when it comes to the exterior with design cues taken from the 7 series. And there is no doubt who the daddy is as quad headlights and the double kidney grille can belong to only one motor manufacturer. The M Sport also gets a subtle bodykit as well as bespoke front and rear bumpers.
The interior is plush and spacious, with the high quality materials and finish you should get for a price-tag just short of £50,000.
Five adults can be catered for in comfort with a sunroof and climate control creating an airy, pleasant atmosphere making long journeys a pleasure rather than a chore. The boot is a decent size, easily coping with your golf bag and trolley when venturing out for that corporate round.
No noise is permitted into the cabin except the welcome throaty roar of the powerful 3.0-litre diesel which propels the M Sport from 0-62mph in a shade over five seconds on its way to a governed top speed of 155mph. Thankfully the brakes are similarly proficient in slowing you down. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is slick, with paddles behind the steering wheel offering manual changes if you prefer.
All 5 Series models are festooned with goodies including leather covered seats and steering wheel, as well as a top-notch satellite navigation system and a variety of online services. My motor featured the £225 full colour head-up display offering speed and sat-nav information.
The infotainment is accessed via a large colour screen featuring gesture control as an optional extra allowing you to change things like the radio’s volume with the swish of a finger in front of the display, while the intuitive iDrive controller remains on board the new 5 Series.
BMW have kept the new line-up straightforward with SE and M Sport trims available. Engine choices include an excellent 520d with a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel in addition to the straight-six 265bhp 530d tested, while petrol power comes in the form of the 530i and 540i models. The former features a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 249bhp while the latter offers 335bhp in a 3.0-litre unit. There is also a 530e plug-in hybrid.
When optional extras are added the 530d xDrive M Sport costs more than the result of my first foray into the property market – a three-bed semi purchased in the 1990s – but the latest 5 Series will undoubtedly prove a much better investment.
TEST DRIVE BMW 530D XDRIVE M SPORT
Model: BMW 530d xDrive M Sport Price: £49,335 Mechanical: 265bhp, 2,993cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving all wheels via 8spd automatic gearbox Max speed: 155mph 0-62mph: 5.4 seconds Combined mpg: 53.3 Insurance group: 41 CO2 emissions: 138g/km BiK rating: 29% Warranty: 3yrs / unlimited miles