It is incumbent for new-generation cars to be more spacious, more efficient, more feature-packed, and better to drive than the cars they replace. The new BMW 5-Series ticks a lot of those boxes; however, its rivals have stepped-up their game as well. Jaguar has brought in its all-new XF, Volvo now has the majestic S90, and not to forget, there’s the stretched-out, new Mercedes-Benz E-class Long Wheelbase that offers one of the most pampering back seats in the business. So yes, the new 5-series has a lot to live up to. But where the new model is likely to outmatch the competition, and also its predecessor, is in terms of driving pleasure and handling prowess. But is this the most athletic business-class sedan you can buy?
On the outside
You could very well mistake this for the old 5-series, despite that it’s slightly longer, wider and taller than the car it replaces. Its wider headlamps and tighter skinning also help mask its size. It ditches the cab-rearward design that is typical to BMWs, and instead, its roof slopes and stretches a lot more fore and aft. As a result, the bonnet and boot section don’t look as long as they used to in old BMWs. This design, however, allow for improved headroom.
The diesel 5-series comes in two distinct flavours. There’s a 520d that is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel. It is available in two variants – Sport Line and Luxury Line – and it is likely to form the bulk of the 5-series’ sales. The second version is the 530d M Sport, offered solely with a 265hp 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engine. It also gets a sportier body kit, 10-spoke wheels and fatter tyres that make it stand out from the humbler 520d variants.
Another standout feature are the mechanical louvers in the 530d’s grill that open and close to optimise aerodynamics and engine cooling.
Extensive use of aluminium in its construction has also allowed the new car to be about 100kg lighter than the older car, which has helped efficiency. It’s got a marginally longer wheelbase, and this time around, the 5-series comes with adjustable suspension as standard. As before, sending power to the rear wheels is an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
On the inside
If you have been in the new 7-series, the interior of the new 5 series will be a familiar affair. The centre-console is slightly tilted towards the driver, and the dashboard has an asymmetric layout with a central wooden panel (textured, grey plastic on the M Sport) tapering away towards the left. The switchgear too is similar to that on the 7-Series, but the metallic, brushed silver bits have been replaced by black plastic ones; they are of good quality nonetheless. The 5 also gets the 7’s touchscreen control for the air-con, and the single plastic button for the drive modes. These feel a bit cumbersome to use, and at times, don’t work with the first press. That aside, all controls work with a nice, damped feel, and overall, the cabin is quite plush. It particularly looks good with the optional tan leather, although the 530d M Sport uses higher-grade Nappa leather.
About the seats, they depend on the variant you pick. The Sport Line variant gets sports front seats, which surprisingly offer more support and adjustment than the ‘Luxury Line’ seats; the latter’s don’t even offer lumbar support adjustment. The ‘M Sport’ offers huge, well-contoured seats with host of adjustments, including those for the side bolsters and squab length. All the seats are wide enough for big frames and are quite comfy, but the 530d’s seats are undoubtedly superior.
The rear seats too are generous and comfortable, although some may find the backrest a touch upright. That said, once you’re on the move, you won’t complain. Unlike the last 5-series, you also sit higher than you did in the old 5-series, and the large window area makes for a good view out. Legroom is impressive, and the roof too has been scooped out for better headroom.
There’s a 530-litre boot that accommodates a spare wheel and a tool-kit. While the wheel eats a bit into the luggage space, it’s tucked under the boot-floor, and as a result, you get a flat loading area. Plus, you can easily load a couple of suitcases back here.
BMW has left no stone unturned in packing the new 5 series with features and equipment. While the base Sport Line may miss out on some features, the 520d Luxury Line (Rs 53.60 lakh) and the M Sport (Rs 61.30 lakh) come quite loaded; all prices ex-showroom, Delhi.
The list of features include adaptive dampers, four-zone climate control, paddle-shifters for the automatic gearbox, adaptive LED headlamps, powered front seats with driver-side memory, automatic headlamps and wipers, powered steering column adjustment, a 600W Harman Kardon hi-fi system, auto-parking assistant, a wireless mobile charging mat, 360-degree surround cameras, and a sunroof. There’s even the BMW Display Key – a touchscreen-operated key fob that allows you to pre-heat or cool the car and, also use the remote parking function. This feature lets you remotely move the car fore and aft out of a tight parking spot. The 530d M Sport additionally gets launch control, a heads-up display, split-folding rear seats and a rear-seat entertainment system among a host of other features.
Under the hood
There are two turbo-diesel engines to choose from – a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder motor in the 520d or a 3.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder unit offered in the 530d. The smaller, 2.0-litre unit makes 190hp and 400Nm, while the bigger engine makes a more impressive 265hp and 620Nm.
Starting with the 520d, it is impressively refined. This engine is also found in the 3-series and the new X1, but is comparatively a lot smoother here. It is really punchy when you extend it, but you need to drive it enthusiastically to extract the most out of it. Else, the gearbox shifts to higher gears at the earliest to optimise mileage. However, this still remains one of the most rev-happy 2.0-litre diesel engines around, and it will give you a strong hit of power when you put your right foot down. It feels even better in Sport mode, in which, it can crack the 0-100kph dash in just 7.74sec.
However, if outright performance is what you want, the straight-six diesel is the one to go for. Just like previous iterations of this engines, it is smooth and quiet. It grumbles a bit at idle, and makes a little noise at medium revs, but it’s quite a pleasant growl that coaxes you to push harder. With a 0-100kph time of 5.74sec, it is nearly sportscar-quick. The engine is supremely responsive, and the automatic gearbox does a brilliant job of selecting gears, depending on your driving mood. It could have been a bit quicker when swapping cogs during in-gear runs, though.
There are three driving modes to choose from – ‘Eco Pro’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’. Eco mode is the one to use for maximising fuel-economy, ‘Comfort’ offers decent amount of performance for everyday driving, while ‘Sport’ is the mode best suited to spirited driving.
From behind the wheel
Where the last 5-series was infamous for being too ‘soft’ a BMW, the standard Dynamic Damper Control on the new car has helped its driving manners a lot. No matter which driving mode you are in, the car never feels uncomfortable. You can feel the road and all its imperfections, but without any unsettling movement inside the cabin.
Even at high speeds, there’s very little wallowing or heaving over undulating roads; the car feels even more hunkered-down in Sport mode. Road and wind noise too have been impressively locked out of the cabin.
Although the new 5-series is a better handler than its immediate predecessor, it isn’t as scalpel sharp as the 5-series of old. It keeps things a bit relaxed, but will reward you with its handling abilities when you push it hard.
Both, the 2.0-litre and the 3.0-litre diesels are decent in terms of fuel-efficiency. The 520d returns 11.2kpl in the city and 14kpl on the highway, while the 530d delivers 10.2kpl in the city and 13kpl on the highway. Impressively, the figures are a lot better than the old car’s 10kpl (520d) and 7.9kpl (530d) in the city. Clearly, the new car’s lower weight and better aerodynamics have played a part in the improved efficiency numbers.
Is it worth the money?
The ₹50-60 lakh luxury sedan segment has undergone a sea change in the past one year, most significantly in the form of the Mercedes-Benz E-class LWB. Nevertheless, BMW’s latest crack at the segment is nothing short of impressive, and it’s evident that the Bavarian carmaker has given its latest everything it’s got. It is a much better luxury car than its predecessor, and in its latest avatar, drives like a BMW should, without compromising on comfort. This definitely is an all-rounder that keeps the drive in focus.