When we think about BMW, what most often comes to mind is a kind of effortless style, luxury, and performance. The very definition of the German ethos. The 5 series, however, is all about new technology. Upgrades are what makes the BMW tick, and this model has a wide range of options and add-ons available. The legendary car maker tweaks just enough to make it clear that there's something new in store for buyers, but the classic styling and image are as present as ever. It's a legacy model with touches of the future.
What's new in the 5 series?
The biggest revamp in the 5 series are at opposite ends of the automotive spectrum and come in the introduction of two engine packages. First, there is the 530e iPerformance, a hybrid plug-in that clocks a 29mpg combined (72 mpge) and a range of 16 miles on electric power alone. Pairing a turbo four combustion engine with an electric motor and a 9.2 kWh battery, the hybrid manages 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The M550i xdrive, on the other hand, is a 4.4-liter V8 powerhouse that churns out 456 hp and crushes 0-60 in under four seconds. It's 16/25mpg may not rival the hybrid, but it's the fastest 5 series sedan that BMW has ever produced.
What is the drive performance like?
The 5 series comes standard with AWD and rear wheel steering, making it an agile and responsive vehicle that delivers on performance as well as comfort. While the hybrid handles extremely well and the savvy of the design is apparent on the road, it's the V8 powered 550i that really showcases the sheer power and stellar engineering that defines BMW. With 4, 6, and 8 cylinder options available choosing a model can be daunting, and the rear wheel steering can start to feel laborious to those not accustomed to a performance type vehicle. But even in its most basic form, the 5 series is a marvel to drive with the luxury and silence of an interior cabin that reflects its high-end status.
How has the exterior changed?
With all the tech under the hood, BMW needed an exterior redesign that reflected the changes while retaining its classic look. The profile line is more streamlined with the classic kidney grilles even more pronounced, and lower front and rear bumpers. In addition, LED headlights are standard and can be upgraded to BMW Selective Beam anti-dazzle high-beams that enable drivers to see up to 500 meters ahead. There's not just looks involved in the redesign either: Air Curtains in the front apron and Air Breathers combine to cut turbulence in the wheel arches and make the car feel like it's gliding rather than driving. BMW was serious when they talked about tech, and wherever you look, someone has thought of it already.
What about the interior cabin?
Good looks are what make the 5 series tick, and the newest additions do not disappoint. Base models come in SenseTec synthetic leather upholstery, with the real thing available in higher trims. Aluminium and wood accents give the cabin an elegant, yet unintimidating feel. Seats in the sport version have larger wings to grip onto when you're testing out the engine, and seats can be adjusted in 20 different ways with heating, cooling, and massaging functions available. As a mid-sized sedan, there's ample room for drivers and passengers and 530 liters of trunk space or enough for three large suitcases. Oh and if you lose your keys or parking pass, don't fret: the ambient light system has 14 choices of colors available that illuminate the cabin without making you feel like there's a flashlight in your eyes.
Any new tech and safety features?
The new BMW series is the most advanced and connected yet, with state of the art tech throughout the vehicle. Most of what they've added won't be visible, but the infotainment is eye-catching and will wow pretty much anyone. Base models come standard with an 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster display in front of the driver, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen configured with BMW's Connected app menu as well as the option to integrate Microsoft Exchange calendar, email, and other entertainment features into the system. Safety features are just as impressive, with tech that can prevent accidents and even take the wheel for up to a minute in the event that the driver is incapacitated. Upgrades are available and numerous but can increase the price of a 5 series into the slightly astronomical range. But with a car that is literally years ahead of its time, maybe all of those extras aren't so frivolous.