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BMW 5 Series first drive

By raccars Published

BMW 5 series

BMW targets class leadership with its new 5 Series executive car. Nobody is going to be disappointed

BMW 530d xDrive SE

Price: £45,965

Engine: 0-litre straight-six turbodiesel

Power: 265hp

Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

0-62mph: 4 seconds

Top speed: 155mph

Fuel economy: 2mpg

CO2: 138g/km

On sale: February 2017

Three 2017 BMW 5 Series facts

1. The new BMW 5 Series offers semi-autonomous drive. At speed, you can take your hands off the wheel for up to 30 seconds at a time, leaving the car to drive itself

2. BMW fits a touchscreen to the new 5 Series, which can also be controlled by gestures

3. The new 5 Series can integrate with Microsoft Office 365, so you can check and dictate emails on the move

What is it?

The BMW 5 Series is the longest-running BMW model line of all. It is the heart of the German brand’s line-up, meaning a new 5 Series is a big event indeed. This seventh-generation car arrives in the UK in February 2017, and is targeting executive class leadership.

BMW has clearly spent a fortune developing this car. It’s packed with new-era technology – it can even drive itself on the motorway for short periods, and will connect more fully with your smartphone than almost any other car on sale. It’s extremely advanced, and very clever.

Some things are more familiar. It still looks like a 5 Series, and has a familiar range of engines: 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre turbodiesel or 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre turbo petrol. Take it in rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive. You can only have it with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The BMW 5 Series has two obvious rivals: the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. The Mercedes-Benz is the most competitive of the two, as the Audi is ageing. There aren’t many alternatives – no mainstream brand sells an executive-sized car in the UK – but the Jaguar XF, Volvo S90 and Lexus GS also target the BMW.

Styling of the BMW 5 Series

Styling and interior

At first glance, the seventh-generation 5 Series looks similar to the current car. The silhouette is deliberately familiar. No sensible car manufacturer revolutionises in this sector. There are clear advances, though. The sides of the car are more sculptural and look less heavy. And the front has glass-covered headlights and a richer appearance.

There are some nice details, too. The roofline at the rear is a bit more coupe-like, which, when you sit it alongside the current car, makes the new one look sportier. There’s more precision in the lines, and the technical look to features such as the air outlets in the bottom of the front wings is very advanced.

Inside, it’s superb. The dashboard is lower, reflecting the fact this new 5 Series is up to 100kg lighter than the old one. The widescreen infotainment screen is now free-standing, and beautifully high-res. Plus it’s also a slick touchscreen, and you can get gesture control as well.

Space is ample, the boot is a decent size and the front seats are terrifically comfortable. Again, the interior is brilliantly well-built from high-end materials, giving it an extremely plush feel. Jewel-like details make it feel genuinely expensive and, if you’re prepared to spend extra, the rear-seat infotainment screens and epic Bowers and Wilkins premium stereo are hugely impressive.

Performance

We tested the 530d turbodiesel 5 Series. The 520d will sell best, but this model is also an important one in the UK, particularly with the optional xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which guarantees winter-weather traction and ability.

The engine makes a deep, powerful and creamily smooth noise, which reflects the performance it delivers. It has huge depths of drive and will sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds. That’s as fast as a Porsche from just a few years back.

Because it has so much pulling power, it is an engine that feels like it has plenty in reserve. It surges forward to a lightly-pressed accelerator. If you want even more, press harder and the eight-speed automatic will seamlessly downshift (and the engine will growl sportily).

The weather during our first drive was appalling. The 530d xDrive did not flinch. There was no wheelspin or uncertainty, traction and drive out of corners was ultra-assured and, at speed, its iron-fisted bite on the road was hugely confidence-inspiring. For £2,130, we’d thoroughly recommend considering the xDrive model.

Handling

BMW bills itself as the brand that makes the ultimate driving machine. The new 5 Series certainly lives up to that. It is an exceptionally accomplished machine on the road, easily becoming the best executive car on sale. Its blend of ride comfort and handling is unparalleled, making it hugely satisfying to drive.

Ride comfort is actually the standout. For a sporty car, it is very absorbent and supple around town, ironing out gritty surfaces extremely well. It is smooth, measured and quiet – you may flinch at what you see on the road ahead, but the 5 Series rarely delivers the crashes and thumps you expect. This is on 18-inch wheels: on 19-inch wheels, it’s a little less good, but still decent.

The 5 Series is very tight and agile through corners, with a strong front axle that lets you steer it tightly around bends without hesitation or roll. Body control is excellent and the steering is weighty and precise. It feels great, and is very rewarding. Those who think executive cars are soft and soggy need to try a new 5 Series.

Styling of the BMW 5 Series back seat

Price and value

BMW is selling the new 5 Series in SE and M Sport specifications. The 520d is the entry-level engine, and costs from £36,025. M Sport is £3,000 extra. All engines apart from the 530i petrol are offered in regular rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive.

The new 5 Series can easily nudge over £40,000 once you start adding options. Most UK models are expected to have M Sport trim, for starters. BMW does ensure even the stock SE is good value, though – all models have widescreen sat nav, parking sensors, cruise control and heated leather seats.

Fuel economy

The regular BMW 530d will average 60.1mpg. This xDrive version manages a little less – it’s down to 53.2mpg – but that’s still good for a car with such all-weather ability. CO2 is 138g/km, while the normal 530d emits 124g/km.

The most fuel-efficient BMW 5 Series will be the 520d, which will average 68.8mpg. Later, an EfficientDynamics version of the 520d will follow, which will likely average over 70mpg. BMW is also offering a plug-in hybrid 5 Series, called the 530e iPerformance.

Verdict: BMW 5 Series

The new BMW 5 Series is a class act. It’s staggeringly good to drive, offering the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz and the handling prowess of a Jaguar. It’s packed with tech gadgetry and is available with a baffling amount more. It also looks modern and feels fantastic inside. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new executive class leader.

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