The seventh generation BMW 5-series makes a compelling case as the executive chariot to be seen in – while seeming almost 7-series like in some quarters
Author: Raj Warrior
Ever since the new E-class surfaced, the traditional rivalry between the two premium midsegment sedans seemed to have shifted towards the stalwart from Sindelfingen. It isn’t as if the 5-series is a lightweight. During the entire previous generation on the F10 derived platforms, it presented a very strong case. But the technologies available to the manufacturers seem to have peaked at the right time for Mercedes-Benz and all of a sudden the E-class not only was feature rich and luxurious, it even drove better.
That is a challenge that BMW is not likely to ignore and this new generation addresses any shortcomings. Yes, it’s a new platform that’s been evolved on from the F. the G30 takes a modular approach, but uses more high strength steel and tailored blanks, while using light weight aluminium for the bonnet, boot lid, roof, doors and some body members. The structure underlying the dashboard is made from cast magnesium.
This highly contemporary method of creating the body using mixed metallurgy should have also stamped its mark on the design of the car. However, here the feeling is more of an opportunity lost, with the fascia carrying over the thematic cues of the 3- and 7-series in a very family look. Head of Design, Karim Habib says, “The new BMW 5 Series makes a mature, confidently stylish and dynamic impression at every opportunity. The formal and precise design combines presence, aesthetic appeal and functionality in equal measure.” We just wish it deviated some more from the pattern.
The BMW 530i gets the familiar double kidney grille flanked by dual headlight pods, with this generation also offering full LED lights that do all the tricks like selectively lighting patches of the road, avoiding blinding oncoming drivers. The LED light signature comprises the eyebrows and twin roundels of the lamps. The body panels seem to be sculpted off from the fascia, with a rising hood, a nicely balanced profile and a nicely raked rear windshield, which stops just short of being fastback.
While the car comes with standard 17″ wheels, the 530i is sold in the region with either the M sports or Luxury line package, both of which get 18″ wheels, although with different spoke arrangements. The M sports package adds just that slight touch of appeal, with M branding on the brakes and doorsills to match with the badges on the car. And that slightly aggressive skirting is also a result of the M package
The inside carries over the M package, with sporty seats for the front occupants, M Leather steering wheel and an anthracite roof liner. So too is the choice of the wood trim that keeps your attention glued on the metal inserts.
There is no overt attempt to bring in a sports car like feel. The dashboard takes the modern BMW dashboard treatment and bases it around a large central hexagonal bit that includes the central louvres and the air-conditioner and audio unit. The new 10.25″ high resolution central display is mounted above this. Some of the stand out elements of the new arrangement are the integration of the gesture recognition from the 7-series, as well as more holistic approach to comfort elements. For instance, if you touch the power seat controls, the graphic shows up on the display, showing you what you are doing. It does still take some getting used to swirling your fingers in front of the unit to get the volume up, but then the interface also takes in voice and controller input too.
The driver’s side of the dashboard is fairly taken over by the M steering wheel, through which the lowered position of the IP is visible. The cowl is far more meaty and covered is soft touch leather. To our mind, the new driving position is instinctively better suited to a more experienced driver.
Rear seat comfort is good, although that raked rear section does make getting in a head dipping manouevre. The tan leather interior makes the car look roomier, while the boot volume increases to 530-litre.
The 5-series comes to market with the 530i as the base version. The engine is a two-litre 4-cylinder unit with turbocharging that produces 252 horsepower and 350Nm of torque. The engine next up is the 540i which is the newest generation of the venerable i6 BMW unit, albeit with turbocharging thrown in for good measure. This 2.0-litre is also new, replacing the 528i. It uses direct injection coupled with turbo to optimise power delivery and a new type of acoustic isolation to lower engine and powertrain noise in the cabin.
The engine is coupled with the new generation of 8-speed steptronic gearbox coupled to the rear wheels. However, xDrive is being made available on all engine variants although we don’t get that in the region immediately. Even the new M5 gets xDrive.
The car’s 2,975mm wheelbase is longer than before and optimises the available suspension layout with its double wishbone front and five-link rear. The rear suspension is better tuned than before with a far better response on bumps and speed humps. It feels a lot tighter, yet avoids being jarring. The steering remains electromechanical, with the possibility of even ordering active steering that brings the rear wheels into play too. The regular steering feel is spot on – after a period you don’t even realise that you are trying to find a flaw with it, the unit grows on you.
You also get M brakes with the M sport package. This offers a two-piece four piston calliper at the front instead of the regular single piece and goes well with the slightly lowered M sport suspension.
Keep it coming. The BMW 5-series does seem to bring together the best in terms of chassis dynamics and throttle response and that steering, as we said before is worth every penny. The small volume of the 4-pot engine may seem a deal breaker to really push the car, but that’s just till you get it in the performance band of around 3 to 4,000 rpm. You can use the gearbox to keep the revs just where you want it and the available drive modes compensate for the chassis response. Sports mode is well tuned, you can get the tail out on hard cornering, but never to a level that you feel the car will run away from you.
Acceleration is sprightly, not blistering, but then the four-cylinder makes up for it in its ability to rev happily, while the larger wheels and tyres help keep you steady through the corners. If you get dynamic damper control on your car, the programming allows you to use the iDrive controller to fine tune your handling.
The question would be whether BMW have put enough into the G30 platform to keep relevant against the resurgent E-class as well as the A4 that brings its mix of lightweight platform and feature pack to bear.
Our reading is that the BMW 530i stands that test. it is still a very interesting car to drive, brings in a very handy feature pack and builds on the lighter weight of a redesigned platform and a tighter chassis. Although we must admit that the appeal of driving the larger i6 engine will tend to skew our judgement, the entry level 4-cylinder does more than deliver on its promise.
|Length Width Height (mm)||4936 x 1868 x 1479||4936 x 1868 x 1479|
|Engine||2.0-litre inline 4, TwinScroll turbocharger, Di with Valvetronic||3.0-litre inline 6, TwinScroll turbocharger, Di with Valvetronic|
|Power HP@RPM||252 @ 5200-6500||340 @ 5500-6500|
|Torque Nm@RPM||350 @ 1450-4800||450 @ 1380-5200|
|Gearbox||8-speed Steptronic||8-speed Steptronic|
|Fr Suspension||Aluminium double track control arm axle with separate lower track arm level||Aluminium double track control arm axle with separate lower track arm level|
|Rr Suspension||Five-link axle in aluminium lightweight construction||Five-link axle in aluminium lightweight construction|
|Brakes||Fr Four-piston fixed-calliper disc brakes / vented Rr Single-piston floating-calliper disc brakes / vented||Fr Four-piston fixed-calliper disc brakes / vented Rr Single-piston floating-calliper disc brakes / vented|
|Wheels||7.5J x 17 light alloy||7.5J x 17 light alloy|
|Tyres||225/55 R17 97Y||225/55 R17 97Y|